Investment company moves to sell lead house

March 24, 2019

LEAD — The abandoned home at 602 W. Main St. of Lead continues to cause contention between all parties involved.

The city was set to move forward with plans to raze the building and turn the property into a temporary parking lot, until it was discovered that a third party tax lien investment company located in Lincoln, Neb., INA Group, LLC, also had a claim to the property.

“We finally managed to visit with the representative from INA, which is the group that acquired the home with the payment of back taxes through a tax deed,” City Administrator Mike Stahl said at Monday’s commission meeting.

Stahl explained that he had been in contact with Tom Beckius, broker, and managing member of INA Group. Beckius proposed to Stahl that he be given a period of six months to sell the property in order to recoup the investment his company had made by paying the back taxes on the property since 2013. Stahl then brought the proposal to city commissioners.

“If it’s not sold within the six months, or what ever period you decide, (then) he would quit claim the tax deed to the city of Lead,” Stahl told commissioners.

Stahl said that if the city were to take ownership of the property, the property would have to absorb approximately $6,000 it spent cleaning the property in order to mitigate the public health and safety problem it posed.

“It’s a sunk cost for us. Sometimes you can’t recover that stuff,” Stahl said. ”We did get some good out of it, we did clean it up.”

The house was deemed a public health hazard in March 2018.

Stahl said that if the property were to be sold within the given amount of time, the new owner would be given 30 days to bring forward a plan for the property to the commission and the process would be started all over again, just as it was nearly a year ago while the property was under the ownership of Nicholas Hoffman-Yeager.

“If we allow (INA) to have some time to sell it, then most likely we’re going to be at the same place with a new owner,” Mayor Ron Everett said. “Then we probably would proceed with condemnation.”

Hoffman-Yeager offered to give up ownership of the property to the city in July 2018 rather than go through the process of condemnation.

Commissioners ultimately decided to allow INA Group a four-month window, giving the company through July, to sell the property and recoup its losses. If not sold by that time, Stahl said the city would then ask INA to quit claim the property back into its possession, or the city would move forward with condemning the property.

After being presented with the commission’s decision, Beckius contacted the Pioneer to give his account.

“The city intentionally did not pay the taxes on the property and then they let it get foreclosed on by me and then say that (they are going to file an) old lien back from when Yeager owned the property,” Beckius accused.

Beckius explained that part of what his company does is to purchase, at auction, a tax deed on properties where the owners have fallen behind on their property tax payments. In December 2013, INA purchased such a tax deed for 602 Main St., with a deed transfer date of Dec. 27, 2018.

“What happened in this case is that in the middle of this process, the city of Lead became the owner of the property and became aware that the back taxes were due and chose not to pay them,” he said.

INA contacted the city in December and informed Lead it was the lien holder and demanded that Lead cease and desist any demolition plans. The city gave INA 30 days to present a plan for how it would fix the home. INA missed the deadline and chose to sell the property instead of repair it.

Beckius said he feels that the city is forcing his company to comply with an unfair condemnation process. He has informed the city of Lead that his company will not offer a quit claim deed for the property without compensation from the city.

Stahl said there will be an executive session held at the next Lead City Commission meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, April 1, in which city officials will discuss taking legal action.

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