Land auction helps couple's farm take root  

Denise Richardson | The Daily StarRob Doyle of looks for bids in the crowd at the Otsego County Tax Foreclosure Real Estate Auction in Oneonta on Wednesday. 

ONEONTA — A New Lisbon couple bought about 40 acres for $45,000 in this week’s Otsego County Tax Foreclosure Real Estate Auction, a purchase they said will make a huge difference in their diversified organic farming operations.

Kyla and Gus Tafel said the newly purchased property adjoins about 2½ acres with a house that they own.

The Tafels, who have been renting nearby land for their farming operations, said the the land purchased Wednesday was crucial their small farm venture to raise organic meats, eggs and other produce.

“It’s what we want to do,” they said.

The Tafels bought the property during Otsego County’s auction of tax-delinquent properties held at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta on Wednesday. More than 200 people attended the sale of 71 properties conducted by, and officials reported there were 31 bidders online.

Dan Crowell, Otsego County treasurer, said the sale of 71 properties raised $923,450, a difference of $206,898.69 from the total taxes due on the properties of $716,551.31.

There were a few more properties for sale in the auction than in typical years, Crowell said, and this year’s auction, as usual, produces break-even results, considering costs to the county.

Crowell said the county doesn’t pay anything to the auction company, which charges a buyer’s premium. Property sales transactions are to close by Sept. 15, auction officials said. has returned more than 22,000 real properties to tax-paying rolls, with bidders paying a total of more than $145 million, according to the company website.

In recent years, a few sales in Otsego County’s auctions have been protested by former property owners.

This year, the deadline for tax delinquencies to avoid the Otsego County auction passed at the end of June, officials said, and properties in the sale had unpaid back taxes dating back to 2013.

The results of the auction can yield mixed results, with some purchasers pleased with their successes and other bidders leaving disappointed, Crowell said.

The goal of the sale is to put properties into the hands of owners who can do something with the parcels, Crowell said. The majority of properties in the sale are abandoned, for example when owners died and children decided not to pursue ownership, or when developers bought parcels that couldn’t be sold, he said.

The Tafels were smiling when they left the auction Wednesday. Gus Tafel said there had been a small bidding exchange with another party interested in the New Lisbon property, listed as Lot. 39.

The 2017 property assessment and full market value of the Lot 39 property were $71,000, according to Otsego County Real property records online.

Crowell said the county’s soft costs in connection with the auction include the county attorney’s time to review matters and the treasurer’s office efforts to contact property owners.

The county sends multiple mailing to owners. he said, and staff reaches out in person in attempts to notify owners about taxes due and how to recover ownership of properties in default.

“We help whenever we can,” Crowell said.

Denise Richardson, staff writer, may be reached at or 441-7213. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_DeniseR.