By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Hill County officials will forgive overdue taxes on abandoned mobile homes in order to allow trailer court owners to destroy them.
During a meeting with County Attorney Cyndee Peterson on Thursday, the Hill County Commission discussed a draft agreement that would forgive property taxes on four abandoned mobile homes in Smithville.
The commissioners drafted the document at the request of Trevor Smith. Smith, who has not reviewed the proposed agreement, could not be reached for comment.
The draft agreement would forgive the $1,500 in overdue taxes on the four trailers, but only if the lot owner provides proof that they have been destroyed.
"In this particular case with the trailers, they are a public health nuisance and a hazard and this is the only way to dispose of them without a further cost to the taxpayer," County Commissioner Doug Kaercher said.
Kaercher said the commission would make similar agreements with any mobile home court owner who requested the tax relief for the purpose of destroying abandoned trailers.
By forgiving the overdue taxes, the county would allow the trailer court owner to secure a travel permit to take the abandoned trailers to the dump.
Many people who own mobile homes lease the lot they occupy. Occasionally, residents abandon older trailer homes when they move out. In some cases, the owner does not continue to pay property taxes on the trailer, which can accumulate for years.
The abandoned trailers detract from the business of the lot owner, who can't lease the space to someone else because the trailer still occupies the lot, Kaercher said. Once a mobile home has been abandoned, the lot owner can petition the court for an order to destroy the trailer.
However, in order to transport the trailer to the dump, the lot owner must get a travel permit from the County Treasurer's Office, which by law cannot be issued until all the back taxes are paid on the trailer, Kaercher said.
To transport the trailer, the lot owner is stuck paying for both the cost of the travel permit, $50, and the cost of the overdue taxes, which in some cases is more than $1,000.
Because of this, some lot owners simply move all the abandoned trailers to a single location within the trailer court.
"It's a safety risk and an eyesore," Peterson said during the meeting.
"What happens is that if we don't do this, the county has to take the tax deed and then we have to dispose of them ourselves and the taxes get written off anyway," Kaercher said this morning.