Council to vote again on inn taxes

Posted April 12, 2010, at 11:09 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — When City Council members endorsed an agreement last week to forgive a portion of the unpaid taxes and utility bills owed by the former New Stable Inn owner, the figures were wrong, City Manager Steve Bost said Monday.

Former owner Farhat Cheema of Massachusetts, who defaulted on his mortgage in mid-February, owed more than $76,000 in back taxes and unpaid utility bills.

The 69-room inn closed on Jan. 25 after high winds ripped off a portion of its roof. City officials ordered it evacuated until the damage was repaired.

Three weeks later, Cheema failed to pay his mortgage, and Paul Means of Means Investment Co. of Bangor ended up holding the note. The property now is listed by Means under Twin City Rodeways Inc.

City officials and Means have agreed to team up to remove the deteriorated building.

Councilors in a 3-2 vote during their April 6 meeting agreed to forgive $45,000 of the more than $76,000 in back taxes and unpaid utility bills owed, leaving $31,000 for Means to pay.

But there was a mix-up on that vote and “basically what happened was … the numbers got reversed,” Bost said. Instead of Means being obligated to pay $31,000 of the total, he now will be obligated to pay $45,000. The city will make up the $31,000 difference.

“We’re going to correct that when we meet on the 20th,” Bost said.

The new order will be presented during a special meeting scheduled at noon Tuesday, April 20.

“I spoke with Mr. Means the day after the council meeting and there was no problem” with the mix-up,” Bost said. “Right now, he’s very focused on getting the building down” to make room for something new.

Original plans to use the site for firefighter training may have to be scrapped, Bost said.

“They’ve been working … to identify the things that need to be removed, shingles and such, and it’s looking like the building will not be used for firefighting training but will be hauled away,” he said.

The state Department of Environmental Protection asked that some materials be removed before the building was burned, but financially it may make sense just to use a wrecking ball, Bost said.

During next week’s special meeting, councilors also are expected to post an order about extending the marijuana clinic moratorium another six months, and to consider amusement licenses.

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