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Letter: Property tax issue raises questions

| March 26, 2009 12:00 AM

Dear Editor:

On Jan. 16, in a seemingly stunning victory for Lincoln County taxpayers, Judge Michael C. Prezeau of the Nineteenth District Court, repudiated the significance of property taxes in his decision for the plaintiff (Tungsten/plaintiff vs. Branagan/defendant) by decreeing: “there is no basis in law for a trustee to terminate a beneficiary’s interest for nonpayment of the beneficiary’s share of the trust’s tax bill.”

What Judge Prezeau is clearly saying is there is no consequence for not paying your property taxes. Could this be read in any other way? In this case, the plaintiff laid claim to 8.11 percent of the defendant’s trust, even though absolutely no taxes were paid on this 8.11 percent for over 10 years.

Apparently I (that’s right, I represented the trust) foolishly thought anyone, especially a judge, would easily see that failure to pay taxes was reason enough for terminating a “beneficiary’s interest.” Who needs an attorney for this? Even though I was mislead by my blind faith in common sense, the Lincoln County taxpayers can now grab victory from my loss.

For those of you who have not heard of the Branagan Mine, it is a piece of land south of Libby near the proposed Montanore Project.

Tom Branagan

Appleton, Wis.