Acquisition negotiations in process

Published 2:23 pm Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mower County Auditor-Treasurer Doug Groh received the Mower County Board of Commissioners’ approval to cancel outstanding warrants.

The approval came at the Dec. 4 county board meeting.

It is an annual “housekeeping” duty for the auditor-treasurer to erase from the county’s financial records checks that haven’t been cashed.

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More troublesome to everyone involved was the necessary action on tax forfeited properties.

Twenty-seven property owners have signed “confessions of default” as required by law.

With the commissioners’ approval of the default list, the auditor-treasurer’s staff will mail official letters of notification by Dec. 31. That will set into motion a process leading to the sale of the tax-forfeited properties.

The amounts of back taxes owned Mower County range from $78.84 to $1,229.

The delinquencies are only for one year, 2008.

Groh and county commissioners discussed the situation of Adrianus “Jim” Struyk, who has not paid property taxes for his Anytime Fitness property for the last four years.

The amount has now risen to more than $39,000, according to pubic records.

In mid-November, a Mower County District Court Judge ruled the Anytime Fitness property could be taken for public purpose.

The property, located at the corner of Fourth Avenue and First Street Northeast, is being sought by the city of Austin to make way for Mower County’s new jail and justice center project.

According to Groh, the property will be moved to the tax-forfeited status in 2009 unless it is resolved by the city to make way for the new jail and justice center facilities.

Mower County has given the city of Austin $2.7 million to acquire private properties in a two-block area (Fourth to Second Avenues, First to Second Streets Northeast) to build a new $36 million jail and justice center.

KKE Architects, Inc. will receive a check for $183,994 for services rendered the county on the jail and justice center project.

In approving the latest contracted payment, the Minneapolis firm is now 40 percent complete with its work on the jail and justice center construction documents.

It has already received $824,000 from the county and with the latest payment will pass the $1 million mark en route to a contracted fee totaling $2.1 million.

The county is still negotiating with Kevin Soiney, owner of George’s Pizza in the Robbins block.

According to county coordinator Craig Oscarson, Soiney wants to remain at his present location through Dec. 30.

He plans to move to a new location in the former South Central Athlete building along North Main Street by the year’s end.

Other tenants of the block — Robbins Furniture and Design Gallery and Thoroughbred Carpet — have vacated the building along First Street Northeast across from the Mower County government center and courthouse.

A week ago, the county commissioners agreed to allow Soiney to remain in the Robbins block beyond the Dec. 15 deadline if he would pick up all expenses, including creation of a two-week lease agreement with the county, utilities and other costs incurred by the county.

Soiney has received $30,000 from the county and is owed $20,000 more as part of a relocation allowance to move the business.

If he agrees to a lease agreement to remain at the Robbins block location for two extra weeks, those expenses will be deducted from the $20,000 still to come from Mower County.

Also last Thursday, the commissioners approved final payment of $353,000 to Rich Huffman, owner of Thoroughbred Carpet. Huffman has moved his business to the Lakeside Center shopping plaza along 11th Street Northeast.

The owners of the Robbins Furniture and Design Gallery business received $427,000.

County official have not set a time-table for demolishing the Robbins block buildings.