A House Divided – WVII / Fox Bangor

ELLSWORTH — A city council is split over who to sell a property to after the previous owner failed to pay taxes.

“If you are going to sell the property. Plan to give up your votes or rights.

The City of Ellsworth has yet to make a decision on the property at 16 Fifth Street after turning down all offers that have been made for it.

According to the city council, the city foreclosed on the property in 2021 because the owner, Kerry Karst, owed more than 7,000 back taxes.

“There were discussions in October, in November he came before the council, again, to decide what to do with this property. There was a motion, which passed, to put the property under seal,” says Ellsworth Town Council member Steven O’Halloran.

According to O’Halloran, a number of letters informing Karst of the tax arrears and seizure were returned and signed by the postmaster.

O’Halloran says, “We had no real evidence that next of kin was ever told in this process.”

After putting the house up for auction, the city received nearly a dozen sealed bids, the lowest of which was Karst who offered the minimum bid of $19,024.01.

At city council meetings in November and January, a few of the members expressed concern that purchased property was flipped or turned into Airbnbs.

According to Dale Hamilton, chairman of the board, more than half of the bidders are investors looking to make a profit on the property.

“There’s nothing that requires us to take the highest bid,” Hamilton says, “Think in this case, personally, I’d like it to go to a family member, just on that basis. I think it speaks better to the city doing something like that than taking the highest bidder.”

The highest bid for the property was made by Stuplex LLC for over $100,000.

Any profits made from the property would be allocated to the town of Ellsworth to be used as it sees fit.

The board was split with a 3-3 vote in January, they will meet again on Monday February 13 to discuss the matter further.

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