ELLSWORTH, Maine — City officials grappled Monday night over what to do with 110 vacation time shares whose owners owe several years’ worth of property taxes and now face foreclosure.
Ellsworth collects property taxes on each week of ownership at Acadia Village Resort, a time-share complex located just off the city’s commercial district. When time-share owners fall behind on taxes for three years, city officials have the right to foreclose on and resell that owner’s share just like they would any other property.
But because each share typically only represents one week’s worth of taxes, the cost of staff time involved in time-share foreclosures can exceed the several hundred dollars the city would receive from a sale. And the city only managed to sell about half of the time shares that went into foreclosure this year.
On Monday, City Council members voted to foreclose on 52 time shares owned by private individuals during a public sale that will begin on a first-come first-served basis next month.
But councilors opted to waive foreclosure proceedings on 58 shares owned by the resort’s original developer that apparently never have been sold and have accrued at least three years of back taxes. Council members expressed concern that the city could end up owning dozens of unsellable shares.
“I can’t see us taking on 110 timeshares,” said Councilor John Moore.
Jim Killam, manager of Acadia Village Resort, told the council it was preferable to the resort if the city foreclosed on the shares and potentially found new owners.
“If they haven’t paid taxes chances are they haven’t paid their homeowners fees either,” said Killam, who pointed out that Acadia Village Resort pays about $150,000 in property taxes to the city annually.
“My concern is having our staff work as real estate agents for Acadia Village Resort,” responded Councilman Gary Fortier.
Leann Beal, deputy treasurer and tax collector for Ellsworth, said the city has yet to sell 37 of the 73 time shares that went into foreclosure by the city last year. Those shares were offered for between $296 and more than $636 per unit.
The weeks still owned by the resort developer, who is not involved in the resort any more, are off-season weeks that often are difficult to sell, she said. So the council opted to attempt to sell the privately owned weeks, some of which are during more popular time slots.
“The only way we are going to get them back on the tax rolls is to do it that way,” said Councilor Stephen Beathem.