The City of Dearborn has agreed to pay $75,438 in delinquent taxes for the vacant property between its two West Village Parking Decks. The appropriation was approved by City Council Tuesday night, aimed at keeping the city—which was deeded the property in October 2011—in good standing.
"The city was given the title to the property between the two decks," Council President Tom Tafelski said Tuesday. "However, we noticed the taxes weren’t paid … so in order for the city to maintain this, the city will pay the taxes on it."
In a meeting last Tuesday, Mayor Jack O'Reilly explained that the city's concern was that if they didn't pay the back taxes, previously owners—development company Burton-Katzman—might, which could create a sticky legal situation.
“We expose ourselves if we don’t pay them because it could give them a position of superiority,” O'Reilly said.
Starting in 2013, the property will be tax exempt.
The vacant land, which was set to be developed by Burton-Katzman Development into a building to be used for hotel or office space, has been a sore spot with taxpayers for years.
The city devoted a borrowed $12 million to building the two west downtown parking decks, with the understanding that the project would be paid for with taxes from the developments.
Litigation between the city and Burton-Katzman regarding the failed project is still ongoing.
Some council members expressed disagreement with funnelling more money into the property through payment of back taxes.
"A lot of people don’t pay their taxes, but the mortgage owner doesn’t pay it," Councilman Bob Abraham said last Tuesday.
The measure, however, was approved unanimously at council's regular meeting.
There's no discussion yet as to what will happen to the property long-term, though it has been used for several events hosted by downtown businesses and the West Dearborn DDA in the past year.