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Close inspection of last week's list reveals that of the $375,000 that people owe in 2009 property taxes, Marlow Timberland is responsible for nearly half of that amount -- $162,669.

Mike Creger: Yeah, that's a lot of taxes due

opinion Two Harbors,Minnesota 55616 http://www.lcnewschronicle.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/35/1205/taxlist.jpg?itok=epfYzg6Q
Lake County News Chronicle
Mike Creger: Yeah, that's a lot of taxes due
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

Just in time for spring and your new exercise regime came last week's 32-page paper. Quite hefty, I know. A few arm curls with that monster and you'll be sporting some beach-worthy biceps in no time.

Of course, half of that paper was dedicated to Lake County's delinquent taxes list.

Yes, it costs the county a pretty penny to run such a long legal notice. But don't worry, that cost is passed down to the people on the list. It's added to what they owe.

The list is a legal requirement, as is the one coming up with an update after people pay up.

No one at the county can recall a list this long when it comes to overdue taxes. It could be the economy. It could be Roy Marlow.

Close inspection of last week's list reveals that of the $375,000 that people owe in 2009 property taxes, Marlow Timberland is responsible for nearly half of that amount -- $162,669.

It shouldn't surprise you to know that Marlow is 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.

You can watch his pre-trial argument at the courthouse beginning at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

At issue, county attorney Russ Conrow says, is that Marlow wants to be taxed based on what he paid for the property, not on how the county assessed it. The county contends that it needs to assess each parcel on its own and not whatever bulk rate Marlow paid for his land. Conrow says there are about three petitions a year against the county and few if any end up going all the way to state tax court.

Marlow's attorney, Bill Burns, said he doesn't want to try the case "in the newspaper" but did say he's firm on the county being fair and assessing at the purchase price. In court papers, Burns contends his client has been "unequally assessed compared to other properties," that the estimated values are higher than the actual price, and the "classification is incorrect."

"I'm going to be forced to sell because of unfair taxing," Marlow told the county board this week.

Yep, he was at the board meeting Tuesday to describe a land deal he would like to make with some of his county property. The county has been trying to find more land to sell to make up for budget shortfalls and wanted to hear what he had to offer.

Marlow would sell the county 10,000 acres for $1.3 million, or $130 an acre. 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. The county would try to quickly turn around and sell the most buildable parcels to make some money.

County board members seemed interested. We'll see how it all shakes out, especially after the tax court wrangling next week.

Meantime, send a thank you card to Mr. Marlow for the useful barbells we're calling the News-Chronicle this month and next.

Mike is the editor of the News Chronicle. he can be reached at 834-2141.

news@twoharborsmn.com
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