News10NBC Investigates: County auctions Greece home over $67 in owed taxes then rescinds the sale
GREECE, N.Y. — A woman in Greece nearly lost her home after Monroe County put it up for auction because of back taxes. You know how much she owed? $67.
Karen Lessard has lived in her home for 30 years. It is full of family collectibles and memories. “This painting was painted by my mother,” she said as she gave me a tour.
But it almost came to and end when a bidder at the foreclosure auction, who did not buy the house, came to her door last Thursday to say her home was sold at the county’s tax lien auction.
“And you think what? ” I asked.
“Oh my God,” Lessard said. “What am I going to do?”
It was a shock to Lessard for two reasons. First, she didn’t know she owed taxes. And second, she only owes $67 from 2019. Otherwise all her taxes going back to 2001 are paid up.
“Did you have any warning that your house was on the auction block?” I asked.
“No, not at all. Not at all,” she said.
“So you don’t recall getting a letter saying, heads up! Because of this $67 we’re going to put your house on the auction block?”
The only warning is in the bottom left hand corner of her tax bill that says “taxes from prior year levies are unpaid.” But it doesn’t say who she owed and how much.
“This is incredible,” I said.
“It’s unreal. Unreal,” Lessard answered. “I’m beside myself. I’m sick to my stomach.”
The auction happened last Thursday. I’ve been working on this since Monday. Wednesday the sale was rescinded.
The county says it’s not the policy to foreclose on a home for this amount of money, $67. County Spokesman Gary Walker wrote “In this case the auction contained a backlog of properties due to COVID related cancellations of the 2020 and 2021 auctions. The county has reviewed the current procedures and has begun implementing additional measures to safeguard against similar issues moving forward.”
The county refunded the deposit to the winning bidder. Karen Lessard still owns her home.