|Tellico Village delinquent lots issue settled?
Jeremy Nash news-herald.net
A years-long dispute between Loudon County and Tellico Village Property Owners Association over delinquent properties could soon come to an end.
Loudon County Commission on Monday held a special called meeting and voted 10-0 in favor of the agreement. Commissioners Henry Cullen, a Tellico Village resident, and David Meers motioned and seconded, respectively.
The TVPOA Board of Directors in April, during an executive session, approved in principle to move forward with an agreement pending approval from the county. Bruce Johnson, Tellico Village POA board president, anticipates the board will make a final vote at its Wednesday meeting.
“The property tax sales are generally an every two-year prospect but with the death of Terry Vann that bumped it this time to a three-year in between, so it doesn’t happen all the time,” Van Shaver, county commissioner, said. “So it’s not something that’s just continuously hanging there that you can’t do anything about, but it’s just one of many things that needed to have a resolution to it. Hopefully this will finally put it to bed and get the properties, again, back to where they need to be where they can be on the tax rolls and be a productive part of the county.”
The agreement says any Village properties that divert to Loudon County will be sent back to the POA through a designee called TV Holdings LLC.
Loudon County is released from “any and all obligation (whether contractual, statutory or by court order) to pay to TVPOA any assessments accrued on all Tellico Village lots,” according to the agreement. The POA will pay real property taxes on the lots until ownership is transferred to a non-affiliate, non-subsidiary or non-associated third party.
“In consideration for TVPOA’s agreement to accept transfer of all Tellico Village lots located in Tellico Village from Loudon County, through its designee THL, ... Loudon County will set the minimum bid for all Tellico Village lots that became delinquent before 2012 inclusive of taxes owed for tax years 2007-2016,” the agreement reads. “TVPOA covenants that while during such time as TVPOA, THL or any associated entity owns said transferred lots it will be liable as a personal debt, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-5-2101, for any real property taxes accrued on the transferred lots from Jan. 1, 2017.”
Officials call the document a “win-win” for both sides.
“It’s a win from our perspective because we have — there will be some 500-plus lots ... that come back into our inventory that are encumbered, meaning there’s no back taxes on them, no penalties, because the people that had these lots let them lapse and go back to the POA,” Johnson said. “Now the county is going to run them through that tax sale and if no one buys them then, under the law, they are able to transfer those back to us.
“So once we get those back in our inventory then we have additional inventory of lots that obviously we can sell to people who are wanting to relocate or move to the Village and it’s helpful for us because it’s additional revenue that we get through the assessments and it just helps us as a Village to continue to grow,” he added.
Johnson and POA attorney Kevin Stevens met with Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw in March to work toward a solution. Johnson said each side looked for “sticking points” before Stevens and attorney Joe Ford, representing the county, began drafting a document.
“We started working on some points and naturally some of the points were the taxes that we owed on some of the lots that were in our possession, back taxes we agreed to pay, and we did, we paid those and brought ourselves up and made ourselves current on those taxes,” Johnson said. “Then after that it was, OK, what we on the POA side wanted was to make sure that all of the lots going back the ‘14s, the ‘15s and the ‘16s of tax sales, that we included those in one big tax sale so that we could combine all those instead of doing the tax sale for the ‘14 lots and then another tax sale for the ‘15 and then another tax sale for the ‘16.
“We basically thought that the law provided the capability for us to do them all three at one time,” he added.
Commissioners credit the current POA board for helping arrive at an agreement.
“We had no success in the past with the previous board,” Shaver said. “If you’ll remember back in 2014 they even sued us and tried to force us to go forward with the sale at the time that we didn’t want to. That could have been very, very damaging and expensive to the county. So obviously the new board has brought a new perspective to it because we seem to be on the verge of settling what we absolutely couldn’t (do) anything with the previous board.”
Ford, who was present at the Monday meeting, said there are 450 lots within Tellico Village that will be part of the Oct. 16 tax sale.
Current lot assessment fees are $123.48 per month, Tellico Village POA Marketing Communications Director Beth Kuberka said, which would mean $666,792 in annual assessment fee revenues on 450 lots.
Tellico Village POA General Manager Winston Blazer could not be reached for comment.
“If we end up having to pay the assessments on the lots that ran through the sale and didn’t sell and the county got ownership of those lots then the assessments would total $700,000 annually,” Steve Harrelson, commission chairman, said. “And so I think this agreement that we’re able to work out with Tellico Village POA really helps us as far as not only saving that cost to the taxpayers of Loudon County, but hopefully get these lots in the hands in the folks over there that can market them and get them sold to private individuals who hopefully will build homes in Loudon County.”