The city foreclosed on 22 properties this week, up from six last year. Unpaid taxes ranged from $215 to $6,943 per property.

Tax records suggest that 16 of the properties were the owners' residences. Among these, eight were mobile homes or other structures sited on rented land.

Four properties had owners with different mailing and property address, including two mailing addresses outside Belfast.

Speaking to the City Council March 7, City Manager Joe Slocum described selling off properties for unpaid taxes as "the worst thing that can happen," and said he would rather see them redeemed by the original owners.

In cases of poverty, this is no small matter, since delinquent property owners must repay all that they owe. But the city gives them more time than in past years, Slocum said.

"We used to take the property in January and put it up for bid in March," he said. "Before April 1 it was back in private hands, whether to the former owner or someone else, through a bidding process."

Today, the city waits until July 1 to put foreclosed properties out to bid.

But Slocum said the goal of the foreclosure process remains the same, to keep properties on the tax rolls.

"We're basically saying, Belfast doesn't need these properties as city properties; let's get them out to bid," he said. "And for those people who can afford to redeem their property, we'll get it back in their hands as quickly as we can."

City records show that one of the property owners on the foreclosure list has done that, paying $1,000 in back taxes.