Common Council mulls veto override for property sale
KINGSTON, N.Y. >> Common Council members may vote Tuesday to override a veto of the sale of a house at 416 First Ave. to a city employee who owns nearby property.
The proposed sale was discussed during a caucus Monday, with officials saying the $15,000 sale was approved by the council despite a process they acknowledged was apparently flawed.
Corporation Counsel Kevin Bryant said opinions from the state attorney general advise against sales of property to city employees without a competitive process.
“It recommends and states that there’s a conflict of interest and this type of property should not be sold to a city employee,” he said.
In the Dec. 28, 1978, opinion provided to Port Jervis officials, the attorney general wrote that “even an authorized sale of city real property at private sale tends to produce speculation as to whether there was collusion in reaching an agreement on the sales price. We feel that it is preferable to avoid a private sale on real property acquired by a city at tax sale unless and until it has been demonstrated that the property cannot be sold for a satisfactory consideration at public auction or by sealed bids.”
Among disputes over the proposed sale was whether all council members had information that $26,430.84 in back taxes is owed on the property and that the property has a $95,000 assessed value.
Officials said the property had been acquired through tax seizure in March and never offered for sale through real estate listings.
Alderman at Large James Noble said that the proposed sale was pushed through the Commmon Council because officials wanted to avoid further damage to a house that had recently been vandalized. “That’s the urgency to always try and get rid of property before winter comes,” he said.
Allen Nace, who has been a city employee for 15 years, said he had been following the fate of the property during the two years since it was abandoned by former owners George and Anne Conley. He told council members that he would like to renovate the property for use by either his daughter or mother-in-law, but could not compete with people who might submit bids at an auction.
“At public auction, if it’s just a matter of (an additional) $5,000 ... (to) $20,000, I’m not going to get it,” he said. “I don’t have the money that people who come to these auctions have, I don’t have financial backers that are willing to outbid the little guy sitting next to them.”
Megan Weiss-Rowe, spokeswoman for Mayor Steve Noble, said the veto was taken because of “purely a procedural issue.”