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Pillager loses appeal to buy tax forfeited lots for unpaid tax amount

BACKUS — Pillager Mayor Gary Greenheck appealed unsuccessfully to the Cass County Board Tuesday.

He asked permission for the city to buy 30 tax forfeited lots in the Crossing development in that city for unpaid taxes rather than market value.

County Administrator Robert Yochum and Land Commissioner Joshua Stevenson indicated state statutes and Minnesota Department of Revenue require the county to sell tax forfeited properties only at current market value.

Even the county highway department has to pay market value to purchase land adjacent to a county highway garage, Stevenson said.

In this case, the 30 lots in the Crossing have $88,745.45 in back taxes and penalties due, while the current market value is $252,500. There are 14 residential lots and 16 commercial lots on the list.

The biggest reason the lots have not sold in earlier county tax forfeited property sales, Stevenson said, is because they also have special assessments due to the city that are five to six times the market value. These special assessments are due to pay back bonds the city sold to finance installing paved streets and city water and sewer for the Crossing development.

The city recently has arranged to refinance the bonds at a lower rate, which will help lower the amount due back in the special assessments, Greenheck said.

He also indicated the city had hoped to purchase the lots at an amount the city felt it could afford, so that the city might be able to more aggressively market resale to private ownership and possibly offer incentives.

This is the reason the city had offered to pay back taxes at a lower rate rather than the market value, he said.

The county has reappraised the lots since they last were offered for sale. Tuesday the board accepted the reappraisals, took the lots off the list of carry-over, over-the-counter sales and placed them on this summer’s new sale list at the lower priced.

Some lots will drop from a former $15,500 market value asking price to $10,000 on the new list.

The city still has first right of refusal until the June 28 sale date.

Cass County Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk pointed out there are additional Pillager lots expected to forfeit for nonpayment of taxes in the near future.

Other properties scheduled for sale June 28 include lots in Bena, Pine River and Remer city limits; Big Water and Wilderness Park developments; and in Powers, Birch Lake, Turtle Lake and Remer Townships.

Acreages are being offered in Wilkinson, Poplar and Byron Townships.

The complete list will be posted on the county website ( about May 15.