Facing the threat of having their property sold at auction, more than half the delinquent Fairfield taxpayers on a list released in March have paid up, with the town collecting $975,900 in back taxes through Monday.

But a still-to-be determined number of properties among the 32 initially listed in March for sale remain on the list and will be auctioned off July 26 at the town's first sale of tax-delinquent properties.

Property owners on that list continue to pay off the taxes and penalties owed to avoid having their holdings auctioned off, according to officials.

Criteria set by former Tax Collector Stanley Gorzelany, town Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller and First Selectman Michael Tetreau in March when the first list was posted for the auction included properties on which more than $50,000 is owed and all properties owned by corporations, businesses or LLC that owe more than $20,000.

Hiller said all of the properties on the auction block are "developable, buildable properties."

The money the town plans to collect from property owners includes principal, interest and lien fees, according to Hiller. Any legal or title search fees are paid by the property owner to Pullman & Comley, the law firm handling the auction.

"We have no cost in this," Hiller told the Fairfield Citizen.

About $850,000 in unpaid taxes is still outstanding on the listed properties, though he said a few more delinquent properties were "redeemed" since a list of 15 properties remaining on the list was printed in local papers last week.

"Obviously a lot still remain" delinquent as of this week, Hiller said, such as the home at 418 Harbor Road owned by Jonathan James and Claire Bailey, which has a delinquent tax bill of $199,389.

Also still on the list are seven commercial properties owned by Fairfield Redevelopment Associates II LLC in the Kings Highway area of town. Total taxes owed on the firm's properties total $211,340.

"It's a procedure that we've never used before," the fiscal officer said of the property auction, although it is a common practice in other state municipalities.

The city of Norwalk, Hiller said, holds a tax-delinquent auction every year, and Adam Cohen, a property auction lawyer from Pullman & Comley, has handled similar sales for 60 or 70 other communities.

The idea behind the sale isn't necessarily to sell the properties, Hiller said, but to get the owners to pay what they owe to the town. "That was the intent," he said. "Obviously, we've collected over half of it and we have roughly seven weeks until the auction. A lot can happen before then."

The properties are being auctioned "as is" at the sale, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 26 at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, 785 Unquowa Road.

Bidders must present $5,000 in cash or certified check per parcel, payable to Pullman & Comley, Trustee, on the day of the sale, with the balance of the winning bid within five day or the deposit is forfeited.

Purchasers will take title to a property six months after the auction unless the owner pays off the delinquency prior to that.

For more information about the auction, email ajc@pullcom.com.