July 26, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 174

Brothers lodge complaints to board about loss of parcel to unpaid taxes

BESSEMER — Two sons of an elderly Ironwood couple who lost a parcel of land containing a camp because they didn’t pay taxes approached the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners with complaints Wednesday.

The property will go up for auction at a sale of tax-reverted parcels on Aug. 3 in Watersmeet.

“It’s out of our hands,” county board chairman Dan Siirila, of Ironwood, said.

Richard and Tom Pallin said their mother had offered to pay the 2010 taxes with a personal check, but the county wouldn’t accept it.

They said their elderly parents were overwhelmed by the process.

County treasurer Sue Pertile said checks aren’t accepted for back tax payments because too many bounced in the past. She said that’s a standard practice among Upper Peninsula counties.

Richard Pallin said either himself or his brother should have been contacted about the overdue taxes on the Ironwood Township Lake Road parcel, but another more distant family member was contacted instead.

“We would have paid the taxes,” Richard Pallin said.

He said another employee within the treasurer’s office treated him rudely and he charged a different courthouse employee had “harassed” him about purchasing property.

Pertile said she had devoted extra time to trying to get the situation resolved and she had met with elderly couple. No payment was received for the back taxes, although a notice of tax foreclosure had been published in the Daily Globe.

Richard Pallin said he doesn’t read the newspaper.

The Gogebic County tax foreclosure notice was published on Jan. 7. It listed two hearings where people could appear and object to the listing of tax-reverted properties.

The notice listed 2010 taxes due from Jeanne and Richard A. Pallin at $1,550.

The Pallin brothers were told their only option to get the property back now is to successfully bid on it at the auction in August. The cost of the back taxes will be included in the minimum bid price.

“It’s too bad, but our hands are tied,” commissioner Tom Gerovac, of Ironwood, said.

Commissioner Robert Orlich, of Wakefield, said the auctions where tax-reverted properties from U.P. counties are sold are well attended and there could be as many as 150 people there seeking to bid on various parcels.

Commissioner Jim Oliver, of Ironwood, said the employee should not have called about the property and the treasurer’s employee should not have been rude, if that was the case.

“It’s unfortunate this happened,” he said.

On a motion by commissioner Dennis Jacobson, of Bessemer, the county board referred the complaints about the employees to the personnel committee.

Commissioner George Peterson, of Watersmeet, said the Pallin brothers don’t live in his district, but he had encouraged them to voice their concerns at Wednesday’s regular board meeting.