Too Late to be Rescued?

By Matt Porter

January 8, 2013 Updated Jan 8, 2013 at 8:04 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Broome County rejects an offer to fully pay back taxes for family home although its auction still months away.

Halyna Kurylo spent five decades taking care of her parents and disabled older brother in their childhood home, which was purchased in 1964.

Kurylo's brother Lubomyr was born in 1948 in a displaced person's camp in Germany as their parents escaped both the Nazis and Russians.

He now faces displacement again at the age of 64.

After three years of falling behind in her property taxes, Broome County foreclosed on her home this year.

"My brother, I think, he's going to have a very difficult time with this," said Helyna Kurylo.

In a last ditch effort, Helyna Kurylo's twin brother, Volodymyr Kurylo, has arrived from Oakland, Maine with more than $13,000 in hand, ready to pay the county in full for the back taxes.

"I arrived with a check to pay make a full payment on my sister's back taxes to secure my sister's and disabled brother's home, and that offer is rejected," said Volodymyr Kurylo, "It doesn't signal to me that the county doesn't want to own property."

Broome County's Real Property Director Kevin Keough said it's not the county's interest to own property, but due to a county rule, he cannot accept the money now because of the final 120-day amnesty period has closed.

"Right now, the law doesn't allow me to--that's the simple answer," said Keough, "But I think the bigger question is how long do you allow taxes to go unpaid in Broome County."

Trouble started in 2006 for Kurylo after the flood severely damaged her basement.

She had to leave her job to take care of her mother who died of heart disease March 2007.

Over the next two years, a breast disease caused Kurylo to continue to go in and out of work. She lost her tenant and only steady source of income for nearly a year.

After that, she fell behind in property taxes and never caught up.

She has tried working with the county including enrolling in one payment plan in 2010, but she wasn't able to make the payments after almost year into the agreement.

Now, Volodymyr Kurylo has reached out to county legislators because the rules do allow for an exception.

Legislators could vote to accept his offer as the county will own the house for at least another two months.

But so far they've said "no," even if it means Lubomyr Kurylo going into a county nursing home that could cost Broome County more.

County legislator and majority leader Ronald Keibel (R) said the family should approach the legislature with their specific problems.

"Those are all issues they should bring to us," said Keibel, "But I don't really want to discuss an individual case."

The Kurylos said they've also reached out to the county executive's office.

Bijoy Datta, deputy county executive, said the county has done what the law has required.

"That's the policy," said Datta, "And we're not going to comment on it. That's it."

As the family celebrated the Orthodox Christmas last weekend, Helyna Kurylo had one hope.

"My biggest wish is for us to be able to have our property back," she said.

The family is also appealing the foreclosure itself in an effort to stop the sale this March.

The attorney for the Kurylo's argues that the county should have done more to alert Volodymyr, also an owner, of the impending foreclosure.

His sister did not tell her twin brother out of concern for his health. He had been recovering from an aggressive skin cancer.

Unlike Broome County. dozens of counties in New York do allow people to settle debts weeks or days before a house is auctioned including in Delaware County where debts can be paid up until the day of the auction.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.