Save the Force Farm
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about why we, Donna and I, are fighting to save the Force Farm.
In 1986 we bought 96 acres of land in Gilbertsville, NY. First thing we did was put a trailer on the property so we would have a place to spend our honeymoon. In the early 1990's we added another parcel of 14 acres to the Farm.
Over the years the Force Farm became our retreat. We cleared the land to build a barn, renovated the farmhouse and planted a grove pine trees just above the trailer. In 2010 our sister-in-law transferred the final parcel, a quarter acre of land, to us to complete our ownership of 111 acres of land.
The property was a place of many happy memories as our family spent many weekends there with friends and raising our daughter.
Since 2014 we have tried to regain our property. Our first lawyer, the former Otsego County Attorney, did not do anything to help our cause. He passed in 2015 and a new lawyer took over the firm. The new lawyer ignored our case...leaving the Farm in limbo. We then retained a Long Island lawyer, a former NYC and Federal prosecutor, who is currently handling our case.
Focus on County Policies: Otsego County Treasurer’s office and County Board members have NOT been following the County laws. Otsego County has been using aggressive foreclosure methods to steal properties from residents with the excuse they owe back taxes in order to fill their budget gap. Properties are put onto the auction block and sold to the highest bidder. Some property owners are unable to pay their back taxes, while others want to save their homes. The County refused to accept the Forces past due taxes prior to the auction date.
There are cases where the County allows some property owners to pay their taxes late. The County has also committed fraud by back dating receipts from late taxpayers. Then again, the County sold a parcel at auction and reversed the sale with a Board Resolution six months later when they realized they should not have sold the property. They play by their own rules, not their laws.
Since when did the rights of buyers at an auction become more important than the rights of the property owner? More important when did the Treasurer and the County Board become the judge and jury to change County Resolution and County laws that allow you to pay your taxes up to the day of the auction?
In June of 2012 (the fiscal year of 2011) the Forces tried to pay their 2011 taxes on time! They were at the Treasurer's offices in Cooperstown and were told they could NOT pay their 2011 taxes, they must pay their 2012 taxes first. The fiscal year for the 2012 tax due date began on July 1st.. The County REFUSED to accept their on-time payment for 2011 taxes; thus causing the Forces to look as if they were in arrears. We have a receipt for the 2012 payment in June of 2012.
On July 15th, 2014. Donna called the County Treasurers office to make payment on both 2011 and 2013 taxes only to find out that in January of 2013 the County had begun foreclosure proceedings and the property was on the auction block for August 20th, 2014. Donna had made a mistake thinking the payment due date was July 30th, not June 30th. Please note the tax year for Otsego County runs from July 1st to June 30. I, who was recovering from knee replacement surgery in June, tried to resolve this issue, but was told we had no alternative because when the County puts a property on the Auction block, it was a done deal. We retained a lawyer who put a stay on the deed while we fought to regain our Farm.
The County stated (on several occasions) it takes 4 consecutive years of back taxes and 5 years in order to foreclose on a piece of property. Additionally, County has several resolutions on file that state they, the County, MUST make all attempts and allow property owners to pay their tax bill up to the date of the Auction. County Resolution No 26 of 1981 and Resolution No 234 of 1985 states any parcel of land acquired by the County for delinquent taxes may be redeemed by its former owner by paying to the Treasurer the total amount of the taxes including interest, penalties and other costs. The County refused to follow their own laws and started foreclosure proceedings in 2013 on a property that ONLY owed 2 years back taxes.