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Biomass has 90 days to pay taxes

The owners of a Nicholasville, Ky.-based company facing foreclosure on property in Lawrence County because of back taxes have gotten an extension to pay an approximately $50,000 bill.

“The owner of Biomass did show up and asked for a 90-day extension to pay the full balance,” County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said. “The treasurer agreed to, including all costs.”

However, the managing partner of Biomass says he never received the papers that said the company was delinquent in its property taxes in the first place.

“I was never served,” Mark Harris said. “You are trying to auction the company’s property off. We have had the same attorneys for 15 years. Why didn’t they get served?”

In November the county was preparing to put acreage owned by Biomass adjacent to The Point industrial park on the auction block because of its failure to pay its taxes.

Biomass purchased property that had been part of the site of the former Ashland Inc. Ethanol operation in South Point. It is a development company that has a permit to build a 200-megawatt power plant that would produce electricity that Biomass would then sell to power companies, Harris said.

“In 2008 everything came to a halt when there was the financial meltdown,” he said. “All our agreements with Wall Street firms got set aside.”

The company had been delinquent on all the parcels it owns in South Point. The last payment posted was on one parcel on a payment plan for $1,713.55 on May 22, 2012. The next earlier time the company had made a payment was on another parcel for $1,563.04 in November 2011.

Biomass was among a series of delinquent property owners targeted by County Treasurer Stephen Burcham and Anderson. Those 10 received letters from Anderson’s office that they owned real estate in Lawrence County and were delinquent for at least six months on their taxes. Representatives from eight of those companies came into Burcham’s office to pay their taxes.

The two that did not were Biomass with its property next to The Point and Deutsche Bank that has rental property in the county. Anderson was able to make contact with Deutsche Bank’s legal department with arrangements made to satisfy the delinquency.

However, Biomass did not respond to the letter until a foreclosure hearing was set up for July 2. Before that hearing Biomass owner Mark Harris requested a meeting with Burcham.

“During the discussion it appeared he had only received the paper 10 days prior to his coming in,” Burcham said. “The prosecutor’s office had trouble locating him. It appeared he only had the papers 10 days earlier.”

Harris requested a contract be set up whereby he would pay off the debt in a year.

“That’s not going to work,” Burcham told him.

In subsequent negotiations, Burcham agreed to allow Harris 90 days to pay in full all taxes and penalties.

“I think we have worked out some terms we can live with,” Harris said. “We haven’t had any income off that property. Our plans are still to build a plant. It is about timing. The economy is not as good as we would like it. The power market is coming back stronger. It has taken since 2008 to see any movement.”

Total amount of taxes including penalties is $45,078.63.

“We are going to pay it,” Harris said.