The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

Tax delinquent properties action eyed

 

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF the Iron County Finance Committee listen to clerk Michael Saari, right, discuss tax delinquent properties Thursday morning. Committee members include Jack Prospero, chair Opal Roberts and Mitch Koski.

HURLEY - Enough is enough.

The Iron County Finance Committee took steps Thursday to prevent tax delinquent properties from showing up year after year.

There are around 13 properties in Iron County behind four years on taxes, dating to 2010. Three property owners have began paying, but the remaining 10 parcels may be taken by Iron County.

Each year, a deadline is set for people to pay the furthest year of taxes to keep their properties another year. Within the county, a final deadline is set when all unpaid property is taken.

Once the property is taken, the county has the ability to have the former owner sign off on it, so the county can sell it, otherwise the owner has three years to get it back. If a property owner wants tax-delinquent property back after it has been taken by the county, he has to pay all four years of taxes in full (2010-'13) and interest, in addition to a $500 surcharge.

"Sometimes, it wakes people up once we take their property," county clerk Mike Saari said. "If they pay everything up, and the surcharge, we cancel taking the property in the fall. We've done it before, and I'm sure we will do it again this year."

The committee unanimously approved a motion to allow property owners until Sept. 10 to pay 2010 taxes, on the condition if the property appears on the tax delinquent list again next year, Iron County will not make any special exceptions.

"We have to go through this every year, with a lot of the same properties," committee chair Opal Roberts said. "This has got to stop."

Saari said, "It is really putting all of us in a bad spot each year, having to deal with this."

Two properties on the list this year will be handled differently from the others because of strange circumstances. One property is part of a section of land that sold last year. According to Saari, the portion with a house was on last year's tax delinquent list, and Iron County took it and sold it to another gentleman. The other piece is on this year's tax list and has the garage on it.

"We are giving the garage portion to the guy who bought the house last year," Saari said. "The entire property is under one acre, and the garage is part of last year's sale. As to why it was separated in the first place, who knows."

The second property being handled differently is a house in Hurley that has been deemed "unfit for human occupancy."

County board chairman Joe Pinardi asked if the house could not be included in the other group being delayed until September, because the Hurley Fire Department will host a practice burn on the house.

"We don't want to sell it, we want to get rid of it," Pinardi said.

Committee members will receive an update on the remaining properties on Sept. 11. During that meeting, final recommendations to the full county board will be made.

Employee benefits

The committee briefly discussed possible changes to the benefits portion of the employee handbook. The discussion stemmed from Saari saying the matter should be looked into in case employees want to retire due to changes, and that any possible changes are reflected in the yearly budget. Some possible changes could be increased costs in health insurance or other benefits at the state level, forcing the county to require employees to pay a higher percentage.

While nothing may change, Saari said he just wants to make sure everything is in place. He said if anything were to change, he wants to "give people time if they want to retire on Jan. 1," and allow employees enough time to take the proper steps.

Pinardi said he believes the employee handbook should be reviewed yearly, and it was decided the committee will review the handbook over the next month, and present any possible changes for discussion during its next meeting.