County selects new auction company, losing bidder not happy

Montgomery County legislators voted Tuesday to retain Collar City Auctions Inc. of Delanson to conduct its real property foreclosure auctions, prompting an angry reaction from another bidder for the service.

The county’s contract with Haroff Auction and Realty Inc. of Schroon Lake is at an end. Legislators solicited requests for proposals (RFPs) and three companies responded: Haroff, Collar City Auctions and Auctions International of East Aurora. Legislators heard presentations from all three last week and awarded the contract Tuesday to Collar City.

The resolution awarding the contract originally called for a three-year agreement, but legislators amended the measure to include a one-year deal with a two-year option after that. District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler proposed the amendment, saying Collar City was a new vendor for the county. District Legislator Thomas Quackenbush, who sponsored the resolution naming Collar City, said he was “okay with the change.”

The resolution also included a charge of $500 to taxpayers redeeming their property.

Rich Klisiewicz of Auctions International gave a presentation at last week’s meeting and returned Tuesday to address legislators again.

“Last week I gave a proposal which I felt was complete and detailed all the services that the county requested,” he said during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting. “I’ve also given a 7 percent buyer’s premium, which I believe is going to be five and a half percent lower than the other competitive auctioneers. In addition, I put a one-year contract, which gives you the opportunity to try the auction company. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew the contract for the next two years.”

The lower “buyer’s premium” would allow bidders to pay higher prices and would result in more money coming to the county, he said.

When legislators voted to award the contract to Collar City Auctions Inc., Klisiewicz interrupted the proceedings, continuing to speak despite Legislature Chairman Martin Kelly’s warning that “public comment has ended” and repeated pounding of the gavel.

“It’s obvious to me that none of you read the proposal that I gave you,” Klisiewicz said to the legislators. “It’s obvious to me that you’re going to charge the taxpayer $500 to redeem their property when they can hardly pay their taxes. You’re all insane. I am protesting the bid tomorrow, legally. Thank you very much.” He then left the meeting.

Later during the meeting, District 3 Legislator Roy Dimond said his decision came down to Haroff or Collar City. Haroff handled the most recent foreclosure auction, in which three properties in the town of Glen, including the site of the former Poplars resort, were supposed to be combined and sold as one but were sold separately by the auctioneer. That situation took several months to resolve, but Buanno Holdings Inc. of Fort Johnson eventually paid $185,000 for all three parcels.

“The thing that was very discouraging was that we had an issue with the property in Fultonville and [Haroff] didn’t even take time to address what went wrong,” Dimond said. “Their remark was, as I remember, ‘Well, it’s been 2,000 properties since that auction and I don’t really know what went on.’ And I’m thinking, if you want our business, you should give some answers.’”

John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.