County board scrutinizes land offerAccording to a recent delinquent property tax list, land owners in Lake County owe $375,000 with nearly half of that coming from Marlow Timberland at $162,669.
According to a recent delinquent property tax list, land owners in Lake County owe $375,000 with nearly half of that coming from Marlow Timberland at $162,669.
Roy Marlow is currently disputing the tax assessments on his nearly 40,000 acres in Lake County purchased from the Potlatch Corporation. Marlow has said he paid $15 million for the land and Lake County is assessing him for $45 million in value.
Marlow is trying to sell 10,000 acres for $1.3 million, or $130 an acre to the county. According to Marlow, he paid $380 an acre for the land. He would take advantage of some tax breaks to make up for the discount price and has also discussed a deal with the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council.
On Tuesday, the Lake County Board of Commissioners decided to form a committee to delve into the pros and cons of purchasing the land.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to maximize the value of our land,” said Rick Goutermont, county commissioner. “It’s not a three or five-year plan.”
Goutermont went on to say the county might look back on the possible deal 10 years down the road and say it was a good idea.
The county could sell some of the land that is more hospitable for home owners, while they could have plans for other parts of the land including using it for hunting and gravel.
County Coordinator Matt Huddleston said it could be a 15-20 year plan when everything is set and done, if the county were to go through with the purchase.
Marlow originally purchased 39,000 acres in what is believed to be among the largest forest land purchases by a private individual in recent state history. The purchase, which Marlow said took “years” to put together, makes Marlow among the largest individual landowners in Minnesota.
His Lake County land, in 40-acre parcels, is spread throughout the county in close to 1,000 chunks from Two Harbors to near Ely. Some parcels are clustered together into larger plots, some as large as 640 acres.
The board, along with county auditor Steve McMahon, discussed the possibility of dropping late property tax penalty fees as requested by David and Johanna Hecker, who owe a total of $36,415. The penalties they are facing total $2,844. Commissioners said they would “stand their ground” on the issue and make them pay the penalties. No action was taken at the meeting.
B.J. Kohlstedt, Lake County emergency management coordinator, discussed the possibility of making Lake County a Firewise community. The county has $187,000 that needs to be spent in specific areas, such as emergency management, between 2008-11.
According to its Web site, the national Firewise Communities program is a multi-agency effort designed to reach beyond the fire service by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers and others in the effort to protect people, property and natural resources from the risk of wildfires. Typically, residents are contacted about clearing trees and other flammable vegetation away from homes and other buildings.