Resorts’ late tax payments arrive in Jay, Burke - VTDigger

Resorts’ late tax payments arrive in Jay, Burke

Jay Peak

Jay Peak Resort. VTDigger file photo

The largest overdue taxpayer in the Northeast Kingdom towns of Jay and Burke has written checks to pay down those debts.

Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver overseeing ski resorts along with other properties associated with a massive EB-5 investor fraud case, has been making payments on late taxes, say municipal officials in both towns.

Priscilla Aldrich, Burke’s town clerk and treasurer, said Friday she recently received a check for $362,118 from Goldberg for taxes on Burke Mountain ski resort and related properties.

“It’s kind of a relief,” Aldrich said of receiving the check. “We’re trying to work together, and I wish him the very best.”

In Jay, Goldberg and the town agreed to a schedule late last year to pay the more than $2 million in overdue taxes.

That schedule called for a payment of $1 million by Jan. 7, followed by installments of $211,000 by the seventh of each month after that, with the balance due by May 15 “for the original tax amount only.”

Marc Burroughs-Biron, a Selectboard member in Jay, said Friday the resort is current on that plan, paying well over $1 million.

“At this point in time, they are following their payment schedule,” he said. “By May it’s going to be paid up.”

Michael Goldberg, Peter Shumlin

Michael Goldberg, left, the receiver for the Jay Peak and Burke ski areas, and Gov. Peter Shumlin. File photo by Anne Galloway/VTDigger

Goldberg could not be reached Friday for comment.

He has been overseeing the properties since his appointment by a federal judge in April as the receiver.

That followed federal and state lawsuits against Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, the former resort president, alleging they perpetrated a “Ponzi-like” scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

The two former business partners raised the money through the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program to fund development projects in northern Vermont.

Quiros denies any wrongdoing and is fighting the lawsuit. Stenger agreed to a settlement in the federal case, but the state lawsuit against him remains pending.

Burroughs-Biron said Friday a lack of tax revenue from Jay’s largest taxpayer could have presented a lot of problems if the money hadn’t started coming in.

“What it means is we don’t have to go out and secure a loan,” he said, noting that the town still had to meet its financial obligations.

The matter of penalties and interest for the overdue taxes remains an outstanding issue in both towns.

In Burke, the current totals are $32,666 in penalties and $8,166 in interest.

In Jay, according to minutes of the meeting between the Selectboard and Goldberg in December, a onetime 8 percent late payment penalty totaled $164,159.

Also, interest accumulates at a rate of 1 percent a month for the first three months and 1.5 percent after that, adding $20,552 to the bill, according to the December meeting minutes.

Both Aldrich and Burroughs-Biron said Goldberg had talked about having the federal court waive those late fees because the properties are in receivership.

However, Burroughs-Biron said the late fees would be a matter for the town’s Board of Abatement to consider, and it doesn’t meet until June.

Meanwhile, a town official in Newport said taxes associated with properties that are part of the receivership in that town remain delinquent.

The town is owed more than $55,000. The projects Stenger and Quiros had proposed for the town included a $110 million biomedical research center and a downtown multi-use building. Neither project materialized.

Alan J. Keays

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