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Paid ’09 taxes keep Caldwell properties off the auction block

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By Damon Lawrence

Kingston developer Matt Caldwell has been catching up on some of his unpaid Roane County property taxes.

Clerk and Master Shannon Conley said his 2009 delinquent taxes were recently paid, preventing the properties from going to auction.
Conley said her office also received payments on some of Caldwell’s 2010 and 2011 delinquent taxes.

Following the controversial 2010 countywide reappraisal, Caldwell filed numerous appeals with the State Board of Equalization contesting values on his properties. Those appeals are still pending.

However, the Roane County Property Assessor’s Office threatened to seek dismissal of his appeals because of the unpaid taxes. Deputy Assessor Barry Cofer filed a motion with Administrative Law Judge J. Richard Collier.

“The reason for this request is the failure of the appellant to pay the prior year’s taxes on these parcels in accordance with the TCA code that all previous years’ taxes must be paid,” Cofer wrote in a letter to Collier.

A status conference was held on that issue last month at the Roane County Courthouse.

“We could come in today and ask for these to be dismissed right now,” Property Assessor David Morgan said.

Caldwell seemed surprised because he said he reached an agreement with former assessor Teresa Kirkham on the appeals Cofer sought to have dismissed.

“No offense, but the property assessor (Morgan) has had a lawsuit against me personally, and that should be noted to the judge,” Caldwell said during the conference.

Morgan filed a slip-and-fall lawsuit against the Villages of Center Farm L.P., one of Caldwell’s business entities, over an injury he allegedly suffered in 2006. The lawsuit was settled out of court earlier this year.

Morgan defeated Kirkham in last year’s election. He took office in September.

Caldwell said he didn’t approach Morgan about the agreements because of the lawsuit.

“Because of that potential conflict, I wanted to sort of just stay away, so I haven’t been in your office at all until after that was settled,” he said.

Collier decided to hold the county’s motion to dismiss in abeyance.
The motion is still in abeyance.

There have been no additional filings since the status conference in March.