Luzerne County Courthouse
                                 File photo

Luzerne County Courthouse

File photo

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Luzerne County Council is set to discuss the sale of 35 delinquent-tax, repository properties during Tuesday’s work session.

Repository parcels did not sell in past back-tax auctions and are available for purchase at any time.

Sales are encouraged because the county has amassed approximately 1,000 repository properties that are in limbo, with no active owners to maintain and pay taxes on them. While batches are sold each year, new ones are added after each sale.

Most repository properties have a minimum bid of $500 for vacant lots and $1,000 for parcels with a structure, although those newly entering the repository after auctions may sell for more.

That’s what occurred with the highest sale price on the list now before council — $40,000 for a residential structure at 352 Blackman St. in Wilkes-Barre, according to tax-claim operator Elite Revenue Solutions.

The 1,266-square-foot single family house, with an estimated 1910 construction date, had attracted bids at the final-stage, free-and-clear auction last August, but the winning bidder did not pay.

Following standard procedures, Elite promptly posted a report on its site specifying which properties did not sell due to bidders failing to pay.

After a five-day waiting period following the auction, the county’s policy requires tax claim to accept bids on such properties for five days. These sealed bids must be above the starting bid at the auction, which in this case was $3,306 for the Blackman Street property.

Seventeen bids were submitted, and Cindy Lainez Cruz submitted the high bid of $40,000 that is recommended for council approval.

If this bid is accepted by council, the proceeds would first cover the $32,980 in delinquent taxes collectively owed to the county, Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes-Barre-Area School District by the prior owner, Elite Revenue said.

Council is scheduled to discuss the repository sales at its Tuesday work session, which follows a 6 p.m. voting meeting at the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre. A vote would be necessary at a subsequent meeting for the sales to proceed.

Twenty-one of the undeveloped parcels would be sold for $500. One is listed at $700, and three are $1,000.

The other proposed purchases, with the buyers and county-listed property addresses and purchase prices: Denice Melendez Landaeta, $1,300 each for parcels on Appalachian Way and West Pebble Beach Drive in Hazle Township and 172 Chestnut St. in Shickshinny; Mario Santana, $4,680 for a property at 238 Center St. in Plymouth; Ricaardo Chacon Rodriquez, $1,300 for a parcel on Grassy Pond Road in Ross Township; and Simplicio De Souza, $1,800 for a property at 83 Nicholson St. in Wilkes-Barre Township, $3,100 for one at 42 W. Hollenback St. in Wilkes-Barre, $3,000 for a property at 284 Blackman St., in Wilkes-Barre and $3,600 for a structure at 157 Waller St. in Wilkes-Barre.

Council members have periodically discussed eliminating the minimum bids to see if buyers would offer more, but no policy change has advanced.

A list of available repository properties and information on all tax auctions is posted at

Prospective repository buyers can perform more research on where these properties are located by using the Property Identification Number, or PIN, on the online repository report.

The county’s GIS/Mapping Department offers a free online map containing all parcels within the county, and the public can search using the PIN number. A link to this map and more explanation is posted on the department’s page at

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.