Over the last three years, Linn County has aggressively put property that has been forfeited to the county for back taxes back in public hands.
County Commissioner Will Tucker said that nearly 100 properties have generated about $2 million in county revenue, but more importantly, added $10 million in assessed value back to the tax rolls.
On Tuesday, Tucker added another $1 to those figures, donating the buck so that the county can rid itself of a driveway off Terra Circle west of Albany.
According to Tucker, several years ago a property owner wanted to build a home and convinced two adjoining property owners to donate 10 feet each to create a shared driveway. The home would be built at the end of the driveway and the property owner would take care of the driveway's maintenance.
Over the years, the home at the end of the driveway has been bought and sold, and the last property owner failed to pay taxes. The county received the property on Oct. 1, 2015. The driveway was on the tax rolls as a separate tax lot.
“We don’t want a driveway and Roadmaster (Darrin) Lane does not want to take this into the county road system,” Tucker said.
The county sent letters to the affected property owners and Tucker met face-to-face with them. The two property owners or current owners who donated the land did not want to take over the driveway because they would then be responsible for its upkeep. Linn County General Services said the real market value of the driveway was $300.
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“I don’t want someone’s driveway,” Commissioner John Lindsey said. So Tucker offered $1 for the driveway; the driveway now will be part of the tax lot that includes the back house. The cash payment was required because county property cannot be donated to private parties.
In other business, the commissioners:
• Heard from Linn County Expo Center Director Randy Porter that income for the year thus far is solid. Income so far is about $1.14 million and he projects that by the end of the month it will be in the $1.16 million range. Porter said June used to be a slower month, but now it is very active, with activities including a national dog show this weekend and the annual Black Sheep Gathering the week before the county fair in mid-July.
• Approved closing portions of First Avenue and Broadway Street for Mill City's annual Fourth of July parade.
• Approved modifying terms of a legal services agreement for the appeal of a lawsuit in which Linn County is challenging a state law regarding mandatory sick leave. The county essentially argues that because the state law was unfunded, it's unconstitutional. Additional litigation costs are projected to be $12,500 to $50,000. Fees would be divided among Linn, Douglas and Yamhill counties.
• Heart from board chairman Roger Nyquist that the county has submitted a bid of $1.5 million to purchase the former Wells Fargo building from CARA. The bid includes a proposal to construct 23 apartment/condo units above the parking area. CARA is expected to make a decision about the property Wednesday evening.
• Heard from Service Employees International Union Local 390 President Lisa Walker that the union does not believe negotiations are going well. She said she came before the commissioners to address rumors that the union “is being uncooperative in the (negotiations) process.” Walker said some of the issues being negotiated affect hardship leave and layoff language. The commissioners did not respond to Walker’s comments, because the negotiations have been private. The union represents a number of employees throughout county government.