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Board of County Commissioners seek follow-through by Treasurer on tax foreclosures

Board of County Commissioners seeks follow-through by Treasurer

As a part of the fallout from the recent boom-bust in speculative development in our community, the collection of back taxes is a growing problem in Teton County. County Treasurer Bonnie Hatch has never previously foreclosed on a property for failure to pay back taxes, but that is now going to have to change. On Monday, January 10th, she reported to the county that 98 parcels owing roughly $65,000 (plus 12% penalty interest) are still delinquent in taxes all the way back to 2007, and 27 of these parcels are owned by one person – the developer of Mahogany Ridge. As of December 20, 2010, state law requires an immediate foreclosure on all of these properties and delivery of the tax deed in favor of the county. There are also many more delinquent properties on the horizon: 1,052 parcels currently owe $725,000 (plus 12% penalty interest) from all the way back to 2008. These will become due for mandatory foreclosure on December 20, 2011.

So has the Treasurer begun the foreclosure process? When asked this question, Hatch argued to the Commissioners that she does not have the funds or staff to get moving on the process. Commissioner Rinaldi pointed out that there are reserve funds the county can give her if she would just request them. In addition, state law allows the Treasurer to recoup all administrative costs against the tax deed. This is in addition to the 12% penalty interest that is assessed on the taxes due. Hatch replied that other counties have also not begun the process, to which Bob Benedict presented the tax deed notices that have already been published by neighboring Bonneville County. Kathy Rinaldi requested an April 1st deadline for foreclosures, to which the Treasurer said she would try to get on it.

This ongoing tug-of-war between the Treasurer and the Commissioner is a critical issue for every single tax payer in Teton County. Tax foreclosures are absolutely mandated by state law, and the law requires immediate action by the Treasurer as of the December 20th statutory deadline. We will keep you posted. Click here to read our July 2010 meeting report on this same issue. Click here to read our July 2010 piece on the challenges of taxing zombie subdivisions.

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