Bennington country club owes $100K in back taxes
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 25,2013
Patrick McArdle / Staff Photo
The Mount Anthony Country Club is shown Friday. The owner of the club is more than $100,000 behind on property taxes, according to town officials.
BENNINGTON — The owner of the Mount Anthony Country Club is more than $100,000 behind on property taxes and town officials say if it’s not paid by the end of the month the country club could be sold for back taxes.
Joan Pinsonneault, director of collections for the town of Bennington, said Thursday the amount of taxes owed on the property was $102,139.55, which is all of the property taxes from 2011 and 2012 and part of the taxes from 2010.
Pinsonneault said the owner of the country club, David L. Griffin, had been notified that if the taxes are not paid by Feb. 28, the matter will be turned over to the town’s attorney to begin the process that could result in a tax sale.
Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the town would work with the owner first to try to bring the payments up to date before resorting to a sale of the property.
Staff at the Mount Anthony Country Club said Griffin was on vacation this week and couldn’t be reached.
Griffin purchased the country club in December 2006 for $2.6 million though the company Down to Earth Golf Course Development Inc.
Along with the country club’s main building, which has a restaurant and banquet room, the property also has an 18-hole golf course on its 110 acres. According to its website, the country club was established in 1897.
The country club is one of Bennington’s most well-known meeting places. Congressman Peter Welch has hosted several roundtable events with local business owners there, and earlier this month it was the site of a meeting to look at developing Bennington’s artistic community.
When Griffin purchased the country club, he was given a tax stabilization agreement by the Select Board. Hurd said the agreement expired in 2012 but he doesn’t believe the town will take action over the agreement even though it was violated because property taxes weren’t paid on time.
“We could have ended the agreement, terminated the agreement, I suppose, but I don’t think, looking back (with) hindsight, that really would have changed anything. Obviously, they have been struggling for the last couple of years to meet their obligations on their taxes. Terminating the agreement wouldn’t have solved that problem,” he said.
Bennington’s policy says that when the owner of a property is delinquent for two or more years, the property can be sold to pay those back taxes.
Hurd said he had already signed letters that were sent to the country club, explaining the delinquency and asking that the taxes be paid or an agreement be made with the town. Town officials will attempt to negotiate a deal with the property owner based on the owner’s ability to pay.
“Our goal, obviously, is not to go to tax sale,” he said.
In cases like the delinquency of the country club, the problem can grow for the property owner because once the property gets referred to the town’s attorney to prepare it for a tax sale, legal fees will be added on top of the overdue taxes.
However, even if a property is sold through a tax sale, the owner has a year to redeem it.
Hurd said that with the time the process takes to complete, he expected a tax sale wouldn’t take place until May or June.