County waiting for tax sale on motel

Staff writer

Marion County Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman told county commissioners that there is an out-of-state buyer interested in the Florence motel.

She said she has talked with him at least every month for the past year and wanted to know what was the commission’s plan for the building.

“He wanted it up and running by now,” she said.

The problem is Marion County still does not own the building. The Florence Motel still needs to go through a tax sale. After the previous owners could not be found, the deed to the building went to the South Central Kansas Economic Development District, which wants to quickly relinquish any interest in the property.

If a buyer is not found in a tax sale, ownership goes to the county. In that case, the commission could negotiate with the prospective buyer. Between $30,000 and $40,000 is owed in back taxes, interest, and penalties — the commission said this figure would have to be paid by the buyer, but a gradual payment time table could be negotiated.

Holub specifically wants the building to return to a working motel.

“My theory is: it’s nothing now. If the wrong people get it, it will be a warehouse and nothing,” Holub said. “Sixty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing.”

Huffman asked about tax breaks for materials and Holub responded that the prospective buyer need only apply to neighborhood revitalization. Neighborhood revitalization would provide a five-year tax break after the project is completed, saving the owner from increased evaluations after construction is completed.

Still, the commission was not sure when the tax sale would commence. They needed to consult with County Attorney Susan Robson.

In other business:

  • William Case and Ethan Hett were hired for $10 an hour as part-time help for the Road and Bridge Department. Bridge specialist Theo Turk was given a raise to $2,179 a month after a year and a half.
  • The county received a refund of $25,202 from Blue Cross/Blue Shield for Health insurance. The last time the county had a refund, 2006, 18 percent of the sum was distributed to employees.
  • The Countywide Single Stream recycling task force was announced. It includes Francie Mueller representing USD 397, Traci Werner of Florence, Larry Smith of Goessel, Larry Paine of Hillsboro, Joe Vinduska of Lincolnville, Doug Kjellin of Marion, Eileen Sieger of rural Marion, and Adam Stewart of Marion.
  • French Frank’s Santa Fe Trail Segment, near Lehigh, was listed on the National Register of Historic places.
  • The Commission met in 10 minutes of executive session to discuss personnel.
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