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City Council will consider Fort Drum building, other bids on Monday night


The woman who wants to buy the former Fort Drum Vehicle Storage building should know tonight whether the Watertown City Council will approve her $125,000 bid for the West Main Street warehouse.

The council is expected to vote on whether to accept the bid by Ruby C. “Charlene” Williams, who is the chief financial officer of the vehicle storage company. Both Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith said they support the bid, which needs four votes to be approved.

“She has every legitimate reason to bid on it,” Mr. Smith said, adding that it does not matter if Ms. Williams has made a private arrangement with her boss, JoAnn Sanchez-Norquist, to purchase the building at 753 Rear W. Main St. on her behalf. Ms. Sanchez-Norquist lost the building because of back taxes.

At a public auction, Ms. Williams paid the 10 percent deposit, or $12,500, with a series of cashier’s checks from Key Bank. If the council accepts the bid, she will have to pay the remaining amount before Nov. 16.

In 2005, Fort Drum Vehicle Storage was formed to serve deploying soldiers in need of a safe place to store their vehicles. It had stored about 90 vehicles in the now-vacant West Main Street building.

In July, the city took the warehouse after Ms. Sanchez-Norquist failed to pay $17,776.37 in delinquent property taxes. She also owes $92,443 in back taxes on four small motels and another storage facility in Jefferson County.

At the auction last week, Ms. Williams said that her boss has not yet decided whether to move back into the warehouse. Ms. Sanchez-Norquist may move the vehicle storage company elsewhere, Ms. Williams said.

Tonight, the council also will consider bids for six houses, three vacant lots and two taxsale certificates when it meets at 7 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

If the council accepts all of the bids, the auction will bring in $294,200 in revenues for the city. The high bidder for a three-family house at 660 Huntington St. withdrew his bid of $9,000; the next highest bid is $8,000 by Keith Garrett, who has been contacted by the comptroller’s office and would acquire the property.

The city had budgeted $20,000 in revenue for those types of properties this year, Mr. Graham said.

The money will come in handy, he said, noting it may be used to demolish two deteriorating properties, a building that once housed a tattoo shop on Factory Street and a house on East Lynde Street.

Council members tonight also will discuss a proposal to allow residents to pay property taxes, city clerk fees and water and sewer bills with a credit card.

City Comptroller James E. Mills has selected Systems East Inc., a Cortland data-processing company, to handle the transactions. The City Council, which has been discussing credit card transactions in recent years, would have to sign off on hiring the company.

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