Following a request to reduce taxes owed on the failed Regency condo site, the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors are exploring their legal options.
According to the BV County Treasurer's Office, nearly $800,000 in penalties, current and delinquent taxes is currently owed on the property, purchased by Craig and AJ Smith, Sunset Bay Reflections, during a March 2011 sheriff's sale.
Craig and AJ have met with the Supervisors several times this fall, and have questioned the property's 2008 taxes. At the time of Regency's project, an agreement was ratified with the City of Storm Lake and passed by city council - the City consented to rebating a portion of taxes back in return for a minimum assessment agreement of $8 million, resulting in $325,000 in taxes.
When it was clear the project was going to fail, the minimum assessment and development agreement was rescinded, City Development Director Mike Wilson told the Board Tuesday.
"Based on the legal advice we have gotten, the legal agreements made in 2006 were legitimate---everyone knew what they were doing," he said. "It's not possible to go back, and say, 'Wait a minute, we didn't mean that; wipe that out,' but we desperately want to get this thing resolved."
On recommendation of County Attorney Dave Patton, the Board approved hiring John Danos, a Des Moines-based public finance lawyer.
In the past, the Supervisors have handled numerous tax abatements, but on a smaller basis.
Supervisors Chair Rhonda Ringgenberg said she was not sure if the Board can modify the property's back taxes or if BV County can claim the property if no resolution can ultimately be met.
The county currently holds a tax certificate for the sale.
"It's part of our questions (for Danos)," she explained. "We don't want to make a mistake."
Via email on Oct. 31, Danos told the Pilot-Tribune he had no comment on the situation.
The Supervisors appeared to be receptive to Wilson's request to hold a joint meeting with City staff, after receiving legal guidance.
"At this point everyone is pointing at everyone else," Wilson said. "Let's see if we can't figure out a plan."