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Hampton Island late with property taxes

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POSTED: December 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Ron Leventhal, head of Hampton Island Management, Inc., said he is 80 percent confident the development's $400,000 delinquent tax bill will be paid by mid-December.
Liberty County Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones, said he hopes that will be the case, or the plush island resort may find itself in the county's next delinquent tax sale.
Leventhal said, "We have never denied that we owed the money and we have never tried to avoid paying it."
Jones said he initially had planned to have the island property auctioned last month, but because of communications from Leventhal and his attorney, Jim Smith, and the difficult economic times, he had changed his mind.
Leventhal said, "These taxes are onerous and we were unable to pay on time because a major bank loan we were expecting was held up at the last minute due to litigation with the island's former developer." He also blamed the economy.
Jones said Hampton Island's taxes had been paid in full and on time until the current tax year. He said he agreed with a statement by Leventhal: "It would hurt Liberty County as much as Hampton Island if it went under.
"It's an expensive out-of-pocket cost for my partners and me to maintain the island and our fine staff — we've let no one go — but we know we can get through.
"Liberty County and Hampton Island together can row the boat past this."
Jones pointed out the island is being assessed at a total of 12 percent interest and penalties monthly on the delinquent bills as required by law. Leventhal said that's probably a better interest rate than the county could get from a bank.
 

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