Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Homes in the polygamous town of Hildale, Utah. The homes are part of the United Effort Plan, a multi million dollar trust. Officials hope to appoint a board of interested community members to oversee the trust.
Polygamous properties spared from auction after tax debt paid
FLDS » Payments of $1.1M completed, with some owners bringing in cash.
First Published May 10 2013 09:06 am • Last Updated May 10 2013 09:28 am

A flood of recent tax payments has spared more than three dozen polygamist-controlled properties in southern Utah from an auction later this month.

According to Washington County Treasurer David Whitehead, payments totally more than $1.1 million were completed Wednesday. The money went toward five years of unpaid property taxes on 38 parcels in Washington County. The parcels are part of the United Effort Plan, a now state-run polygamous trust created by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The money was due May 23. Failure to pay the delinquent taxes would have sent the properties to a county auction.

Whitehead added that the list of delinquent properties typically shrinks significantly as the auction nears and people finally pay up.

"I would say it’s pretty typical of properties that are up for tax sale," Whitehead said.

In late April, about half of the tax debt had been paid. At that time, Whitehead said an atypical number of payments had been made in cash. He added Thursday that cash payments continued to come in through May, though he didn’t know what percentage of the total those payments comprised.

Whitehead also did not have information about the people who paid the debt, saying it could have been anyone with or without an interest in the properties. Tax records show that people paid the money incrementally in amounts ranging from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Washington County clerk and auditor Kim Hafen said getting the debt paid is a good thing for the community and the county. When some people don’t pay their property taxes, Hafen explained, the tax rates must increase to make up the difference.

"If everybody paid 100 percent everybody’s rate would go down a little bit," Hafen said.

He added that other factors also figure into tax rates, which authorities determine via mathematical formula. Hafen also said authorities are anxious to collect property taxes but do not like selling people’s land.

story continues below
story continues below

While the UEP properties made up only a small portion of the overall delinquent list, they posed a unique challenge because many included multiple houses on the same parcel. That meant that even if occupants of one home paid some of the taxes everyone using the parcel could still ultimately be evicted if the entire amount wasn’t paid. Hafen said county authorities are prepared to subdivide the land so each home has its own parcel — and property taxes — but that process has been stalled by court proceedings.

However, during a hearing in April authorities involved in the UEP case said they also looked forward to finally subdividing the land.

Properties in neighboring Colorado City, Ariz., also are delinquent but won’t be eligible for auction until next year. However, different tax policies in Arizona also offer alternatives to selling the properties.

Salt Lake City accountant Bruce Wisan, who was appointed to oversee the UEP, said he was "very pleased" that the taxes were paid in Washington County and said his focus will now shift.

"We still have serious problems in Mohave County but those will not occur until 2014," Wisan wrote in an email. "Hopefully we will use that time to correct the deficiency in Mohave County."


Twitter: @jimmycdii

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.