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Times of Wayne County

Supervisors finalize Property Auction Bids, Sheriff has strong words on racial profiling

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, five homeowners appealed to the Board for an extension of time to keep from losing their homes. Although the properties were offered for auction by the county after three years of attempting to collect back taxes, some homeowners came to the County’s auction or sent letters saying they were now ready and able to pay. They requested that their homes not be put up at the auction, or that they be allowed to bid on them.

A proclamation was made by Supervisor Bob Plant of Walworth and Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts honoring Corrections Officer Norm Bargerstock for his 25 years of service to the community and the Sheriffs Department. Norm was a jailer from 1986 to 1988 and has been a corrections officer since 1988 until his retirement in June 2011.

Sheriff Virts was also authorized at the meeting to receive a Homeland Security Grant to be used for 22 mobile data computers and a lap top computer for a total of $89,312. Rose Supervisor Lucinda Collier asked if any of the funds from Homeland Security Grants will be used for racial profiling by the Sheriff’s Department.

Sheriff Virts appreciated the chance to respond to the question. He stated: “These funds have been used to secure computers which our patrols use in our department and some are shared with local police departments as well. As for whether we do “racial profiling”, let me say this – We treat no one differently. I go on the record that I have met with my staff and my deputies to assure that if you violate the law, we will use probable cause and the letter of the law to deal with you. There are no free rides! We uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of this State. I have met with Colonel Wagner from the Farm Bureau and Dr. Ghertner, and have been a member of the County’s anti-discrimination committee for a long time. We do not racially profile in this department. I cannot speak for any other agencies except this office, although that is not to imply that any racial profiling occurs there either. I state again, we do not racially profile. We treat everyone fairly and equally.”

The resolution on accepting the Auction bids was next presented for the public sale which occurred on June 22nd. The resolution was tabled, while the board called an executive session to discuss the contractual ramifications of the bids.
Prior to the executive session, the resolution was amended to allow the bid of Kenneth Bond to be included as a legitimate bid, after his outstanding tax on another property was paid. His auction bid and several others had been voided due to the bidders owing back taxes on other property they owned. A request from Galen Supervisor Steve Groat to have the unpaid taxes on a property owned by businessman Joseph Tavano, reduced by 85%, so that he would be allowed to have his auction property bid stand, was disallowed.

Following executive session, Butler Town Supervisor Dave Spickerman proposed that all owner-occupied residences on the auction list be allowed a 30 day extention to pay their back taxes or an acceptable resolution approved by the County Treasurer. Discussion ensued as to the fairness of the request. Walworth Town Supervisor Bob Plant asked if that would include ALL owner-occupied properties from the auction, or just the ones who sent letters or spoke at the meeting. Spickerman said that it meant all of the owner occupied properties on the list. Supervisor Groat called foul, since his requested for the property in Galen was voted down, but this new resolution with exceptions was being proposed.
Macedon Supervisor Bill Hammond called for a vote. A long roll call was requested. Ayes came from: Supervisors Spickerman, Groat, Manktelow, Collier, and Colacino. Nay votes were heard from: Supervisors Crane, Hammond, Bender, Kelsch, Miller, Lauderdale, Leroy, Park, Plant and Hoffman.

The weighted vote was 1320 ayes, but 2113 votes were needed to carry, so the proposition failed.

The original resolution, with the one amendment was then called to vote. The roll call vote was: AYES: Crane, Hammond, Bender, Lauderdale, Plant, Park, Hoffman, and Leroy. NAYS: Groat, Manktelow, Miller, Kelsch, Collier, Colacino and Spickerman.

The next County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for Thursday, August 4th at 9:00 a.m. at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Palmyra.

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