Great Northern Paper auctioneer misses Millinocket tax payment for second day

The Katahdin Avenue industrial park in Millinocket is a shell of what it was in this picture taken on May 4, 2014.
Jon Campbell
The Katahdin Avenue industrial park in Millinocket is a shell of what it was in this picture taken on May 4, 2014.
Posted July 09, 2014, at 6:17 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — The auctioneer paying Great Northern Paper Co.’s property-tax debt to the town has apparently missed a payment deadline for the second straight day, officials said Wednesday.

Town Manager Peggy Daigle and Town Council member Michael Madore said the town had not been wired the $340,000 in property taxes Great Northern Paper and auctioneer Koster Industries agreed to pay Tuesday as part of a payment-by-installment plan. Madore said councilors would likely address the issue when they meet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I would just as soon wait and see where this goes before I comment, because if I do comment now, it is going to be more out of anger than anything else, and I really don’t want to do that,” Madore said Wednesday.

An attempt to contact Alexandra Ritchie, spokeswoman for Great Northern Paper manager Cate Street Capital, was unsuccessful. Matthew Koster of Koster Industries referred comment Wednesday to Great Northern Paper officials.

Town officials awaited an email confirmation of the payment from Koster on Wednesday despite the town office being closed. Besides the $225,000 payment received shortly before 6 p.m. July 3 and the $340,000 expected Tuesday, a $360,000 payment is scheduled for July 14. The remainder of the $1.18 million in net property taxes Great Northern Paper owes Millinocket are called for on July 21, as specified by the plan the Town Council voted 5-2 to accept on July 3, officials have said.

Councilors opted for the payment plan in an attempt to speed up the payment process. The town’s largest taxpayer, Great Northern Paper owns paper mills in East Millinocket and Millinocket and has owed Millinocket $2.17 million in gross overdue property taxes since April. An additional $106,000 in interest — or $467 per day in interest — and $10 in fees has been added.

Great Northern Paper hired Koster Industries to hold an auction on June 17 to pay the Internal Revenue Service and Millinocket after both had placed personal property liens on the company’s papermaking equipment at its Katahdin Avenue industrial park.

The $2.17 million gross figure counts $1.08 million the company would be paid back under a TIF agreement made among Great Northern Paper, the town and the state. Councilors agreed to forego the payback to speed up the payments.

Millinocket placed nine liens on Great Northern Paper real estate holdings in town on July 3 to recoup $12,585 in overdue real estate taxes. No payment plan has been established for that debt. Great Northern Paper officials have said that they remain committed to launching a $140 million pellet mill in Millinocket and restarting the East Millinocket paper mill this fall.

Town Council Chairman Richard Angotti Jr. did not return messages left on Wednesday.

 

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