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Jefferson County is considering a tax deed sale to recover unpaid taxes on one of Montana Tunnels Mining’s two in-county properties.

The County Commission noted at its Feb. 18 meeting that Treasurer Terri Kunz had been looking into what the process would entail as they discussed tax payments schedules the company proposed in a Jan. 13 letter to Commission Chair Leonard Wortman. The commissioners rejected the proposal 3-0, citing a previously unfulfilled payment agreement.

The current delinquent balance was unavailable at press time, but the commissioners have previously estimated it to be more than $7 million.

According to Investopedia.com, “A tax deed ... grants ownership of a property to a government body when the property owner does not pay the taxes due on the property. [It] gives the government the authority to sell the property to collect the delinquent taxes and transfer the property to the purchaser. Such sales are called ‘tax deed sales’ and are usually held at auctions.”

If the county decides to proceed with such a sale, it would affect only the company’s mine near Clancy, Kunz said in an email.

“Tax deeds taken by the County have to be delinquent four years or more,” she wrote. “In this case, the largest piece of property owned by the Tunnels has been delinquent since 2010.”

The company is current in its tax payments for its Golden Dream Mine in Elkhorn “up to the 2018 tax cycle year,” Kunz wrote.

The tax deed process is time consuming. Kunz said it could take 6 to 9 months to notify anyone — the state, the IRS, etc. — with an interest in the property.

“The County will track all costs associated with doing this process,” Kunz wrote. “If Montana Tunnels decides to redeem the tax lien they will pay any associated costs that the County incurs.”

Imeson did not respond to a request for comment by press time Tuesday.

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