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LaFargeville family owes $35K in back taxes on farmland; county on threshold of foreclosure action

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LAFARGEVILLE — A family owes Jefferson County $34,573 in unpaid property taxes since 2010 on 1,084 acres of farmland off County Road 15 in the town of Orleans.

If the Thompson family fails to pay back taxes by March 15, Jefferson County will start the foreclosure process on 11 farmland properties with back taxes owned by Orleans Fields LLC, 18669 County Road 5. A family member, Donelle L. Thompson, is listed as a resident at that address.

In total, the assessments of the 11 properties show an estimated market value of $571,000.

Records show the former owner, Connie J. Thompson, sold the 11 properties for $10 each to Orleans Fields LLC on July 20, 2012.

Calls made to several members of the Thompson family on Monday seeking comment were unreturned.

If back taxes aren’t paid, the Orleans farmland will be on the docket to be sold by Jefferson County at auction June 7.

Property owners are given until three days before the auction to pay back taxes and retain ownership, Jefferson County Attorney David J. Paulsen said. To do that, an administration fee of $500 per parcel would be assessed.

Owners are allowed to bid in the auction, but the winning bid must be above the full amount of back taxes owed, Mr. Paulsen said. If the sale price is less than the back taxes owed, the owner will be responsible for making up the difference to buy the property.

It’s not the first time Thompson farmland has been involved in foreclosure action. In 1997, Thompson Farm Quarry filed for bankruptcy after it failed to pay back property taxes on 67 parcels in northern Jefferson County. In 2000, 54 of those properties were foreclosed on by the county because of unpaid taxes. The Thompson family was able to avoid a county auction, however, by making an agreement to pay off all property taxes. It later became evident to the county, though, that the family would be unable to do that.

The county decided to sell parcels individually to people affected by the foreclosure, rather than on the auction block. During the foreclosure process in 2000, the county allowed 15 parcels to be bought by residents who lived on properties and had lease arrangements with the Thompson family.

Most of the remaining 39 parcels involved in the foreclosure action were sold individually by the county in 2011 to Thompson family members and various people who lived on affected land. Four properties in the town of Lyme were sold to the Nature Conservancy, which in turn sold the land to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

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