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Mille Lacs County, Minnesota

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Friday September 7, 2007

Deadline Approaches.

It Could All Be Over...

Mille Lacs News Staff Writer

September 15 marks the expiration of the purchase agreement between the City of Onamia and the joint owners of the 38 acres Nexus has targeted for placing their sex offender facility. The large four building institution was slated to be well-under construction last month, but the project was delayed while Nexus searches for another  way to avoid paying property taxes.

Because Nexus and the City of Onamia failed to get the deal done by the expiration date, Steve Bye will be released from any obligation to go through with the sale of this land that ignited the heated battle with surrounding neighbors who adamantly oppose the placing of sex offenders in their residential neighborhood.

"If Steve would just refuse to extend the contract, everything could go back to normal," said a Nexus opponent. "He wouldn't be out anything, and he'd be saving the neighborhood. This could all go away... It could be over."

"We'll go along with whatever Steve decides," said joint-property owner Avis Grosslein of Falmouth, Massachusetts in a telephone interview.

More Tax Trouble

Evading property taxes seems to be the latest trend. For the past several years, Avis and her husband Marvin Grosslein have claimed homestead on the vacant 38 acres in Mille Lacs County - in Minnesota as well as on their home in Barnstable County - in Massachusetts. * Although it is illegal to claim homestead on more than one property, by doing so the Grossleins kept the taxes on the property down to $60 last year.

"The taxes on the Bye property only amount to a load of gravel," said Bradbury's Township Clerk. Back taxes, however, would amount to a substantial amount of gravel for Bradbury Township.

Currently the Grossleins are listed as the owners. They are also listed as having the same address as Steve. Steve Bye is listed only as the taxpayer.

"It looks like it could be a case of tax fraud," said Thomas Casey, attorney for the OACRG, a local organization of citizens opposing the sex offender facility. It is unclear at this time if the tax issues with the Grosslein property will further delay the Nexus deal.

More tax trouble is exactly what Nexus doesn't need. Mille Lacs Academy Executive Director Paul Smith had indicated that if Nexus didn't receive property tax exemption, Mille Lacs Academy, a sex offender facility owned by the multi-million dollar corporation would leave the state. However, after the Mille Lacs County Assessor upon recommendation by the Minnesota Department of Revenue denied exemption, Nexus persistently applied for tax abatement. Nexus CEO recently stated that if they do not receive tax abatement, they will not build in Onamia. He said that they couldn't afford to pay property taxes. (Nexus' 38 million dollar annual budget doesn't include property taxes, apparently.)

Many residents are puzzled by D'Angelo's statement. The Mille Lacs Academy charges more for their services than any other sex offender facility in Minnesota (with the exception of one of the programs at Bar None, which is only a few dollars higher than Nexus'.)

"I find it difficult to believe that Nexus would have any trouble meeting its tax obligation. Mille Lacs Academy takes in well over $20,000 per day. It wouldn't take many days to cover pay their taxes for a year. Or, since they receive over $70,000 per year for each inmate, just adding a few more could pay for the taxes," a Bradbury neighbor said.

Will it ever end?

Bradbury residents fully expect Steve Bye to sign the purchase agreement extension. They said that several neighbors had tried to convince him not to sell, because it will destroy the area and hurt so many families. But how often do you get three times what your hayfield is worth?

"They made him an offer he couldn't refuse," said his neighbor.

 

* Property tax information is public information, available online and at the courthouse in Milaca. You can check out information yourself on the Mille Lacs County website.  

 

 

 

 

 

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