BENNINGTON - The owners of the Mount Anthony Country Club have reached an agreement with the town to pay more than $100,000 in delinquent property taxes and avoid a potential tax sale, according to Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd.
The club, owned by David Griffin and Maru Leon under the name Down to Earth Golf Course Development Inc., owes the town $102,000 for back taxes from the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years, Hurd said. About $400 remains unpaid from the 2011 fiscal year, he said.
The club owes $43,036 from 2012 and $44,290 from 2013. The property could have been put up for sale by the town if an agreement had not been reached by the end of the month.
"He is working to come up with a payment plan that will pay off the taxes, hopefully by October of this year," Hurd said Monday.
Hurd met with Griffin Monday morning to discuss the situation. Griffin had received a formal letter from the town indicating the town would begin the process of selling the property at auction if a payment plan was not submitted and approved.
Hurd said on Tuesday that a payment plan has been approved that will pay down the 2011 and 2012 fiscal year taxes.
"That would leave the 2013, which we talked about addressing once we get to the end of the year," Hurd said.
The couple purchased the club in 2006 for $2.6 million, according to town records. The 110-acre property, which features an 18-hole golf course, pool, restaurant and banquet facility, and a pro shop, is assessed at about $1.8 million.
The club entered into a five-year tax stabilization plan with the town in 2007. According to agreement, the club would pay property taxes based on the assessed value of the property at the time it was purchased. The club was to pay just 20 percent of any difference in property taxes if the assessed value rose during the five-year agreement. The deal expired in 2012.
Griffin has maintained communication with the town and told town officials the business will remain open, according to Hurd.
"He's not a property owner that is ignoring us. It's unfortunate that he's gotten this far. It's a cash-flow business," Hurd said.
Leon said the club has been working to address the back taxes. "The town has been extremely cooperative with us as well as with many other businesses that fall behind. We are very grateful and we are working with them," she said.
The couple remains "very committed to the town and to this business," Leon said. She said they have battled a tough economy but are optimistic about the future.
"We have been here already seven years. We have made a tremendous investment in this property and made it our home," she said. "David is from here and was happy to come back. It is his dream to make this property work and be profitable."
Leon said the club will continue operate as normal during the 2013 golf season.
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