Main & Sky pays outstanding taxes to settle dispute, avoid auction
The Summit County Council refused to grant relief for five years’ worth of unpaid property taxes on Wednesday to Argentum Sky LLC, the owner of six delinquent commercial properties in Park City, and, instead, ordered that the properties be sold in a tax auction later this month if the outstanding sum was not paid.
As of April 24, Argentum Sky LLC owed the county $419,765.74 in unpaid taxes, penalties, interest and administrative fees dating to 2013. The six properties are tied to Main & Sky, a hotel at the intersection of Main Street and Heber Avenue. Argentum Sky LLC proposed payment agreements where the total would be paid either in one lump sum or in equal monthly installments of $22,000. Both plans requested the county waive the outstanding penalties and interest totaling $66,506.17.
The county could have granted Argentum Sky LLC relief from penalties and interest on Wednesday, and has occasionally done it in the past. But, after a brief discussion, County Council members rejected both proposals.
Argentum Sky LLC paid the outstanding balances in full Friday afternoon, according to Corrie Forsling, Summit County treasurer. The properties were listed for sale at the May 17 tax auction at the County Courthouse, but they were automatically removed from the tax sale once the payment was received, she said.
County Council Chair Kim Carson said the county has only elected to provide relief for property owners who are facing extreme hardships, such as the death of a loved one. She added, “We are usually only talking hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars in relief.”
“These funds have not been able to be put to use for the citizens of not only Summit County, but for other entities, such as the school districts,” she said. “This amount has a big impact. I’m disappointed it has gotten to five years and up to the last minute before any attempt has been made.”
Carson said Council members also received several letters from citizens urging elected officials not to support the proposals.
“That further reinforced my decision,” she said.
The properties are considered some of the most high-priced real estate in Park City, according to Michael Howard, Summit County auditor.
Nick Frost, an attorney appearing on behalf of Wrona DuBois to represent Argentum Sky LLC on Wednesday, admitted the situation was “entirely Argentum’s fault and not the county’s.” Frost attributed the delinquent taxes to an ongoing divorce between Kenneth Abdalla, manager of Argentum Sky LLC, and his wife. Abdalla has been a well-known figure in Park City’s Main Street real estate for at least a decade.
“As these things go, neither party has wanted to pay property taxes until it was resolved,” he said. “I think they are now at a point that they recognize that this needs to be paid. They are prepared to do that.”
County Council member Roger Armstrong echoed Carson’s statements that relief is only granted for hardships. He added, “I know them both (Abdallas) and know they have not been divorcing for five years.”
“The decision of whether to pay it or not has been made on a year-by-year basis and they chose not to pay it,” he said. “I cannot find the hardship.”
Glenn Wright, another County Council member, said the decision not to pay taxes was egregious. He went as far as to request additional penalties be imposed against Argentum Sky LLC. However, penalties and interest amounts are governed by state statue.
Howard suggested the county collect the entire lump sum, including interest and penalties, before the tax sale, or a payment plan where the outstanding fines are paid in equal $22,000 monthly payments beginning in August, with a balloon payment in month 20. The Council rejected that solution and insisted the total sum be paid before May 17.
Forsling pushed the Council to strongly consider a payment agreement. She said she supported the auditor’s recommendation, but added that the Council has granted reprieves before.
“If we look at the Council’s history and, I’ve been doing this for eight years, we generally give the property owner one chance and extend a payment agreement,” she said. “During the final period before properties get to the tax sale, I work with property owners to help them understand what their options are. Part of that understanding is what the Council is going to do and how they will apply the law. What I’m asking for is that we are consistent and we do what we have done in the past. It was mentioned as egregious, where it is actually common practice.”
Argentum Sky LLC had until 9:59 a.m. on May 17 to pay the taxes. Otherwise ownership would have been transferred to Summit County. If the total had not been paid, the auditor would have been required by law to sell the properties.
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