When a business is buried by an avalanche of trouble, tax collectors just ought to assume there's not much left to tax, right? Not necessarily.
Utah County commissioners told David Grow, owner of the Bridal Veil Falls Resort in Provo Canyon, he missed the window of opportunity to have his property taxes deferred on the demolished resort when he failed to ask for a hearing last year before the Board of Equalization.The amenities of Bridal Veil Falls were destroyed in January 1996 by a huge snowslide. With the cost of replacing the structures too high, Grow has been trying to sell the resort for the past year.
Now, the resort owes almost $23,000 in back taxes and could go to the highest bidder at a tax sale set for 10 a.m. Thursday.
Grow appeared before the com-mission Tuesday pleading for relief on land that showed a quarter of a million dollars in improvements as of Jan. 1, 1996, and nothing but bare land value shortly after.
"I knew, you knew, I'm betting everybody in your offices knew the resort was destroyed," Grow said. "And it's possible that a psychiatrist could verify that I was not functioning during the months after that as I should have been. I thought I was, but I don't think I was, not well enough to realize I needed to come to the Board (of Equalization) for help."
Commissioners Jerry Grover and Gary Herbert said while they sympathize with Grow's situation, the hands of the commission are tied. Grover explained that only the State Tax Commission can determine whether an appeal can be heard after the Board of Equalization's appeals time period. Tax notices go out in July, and property owners have 30 days to request an appointment with the Board of Equalization.
Herbert said maybe if the taxes, including back taxes, are paid on two of the resort's three parcels in jeopardy, the commission could pull the properties off the tax sale list.
Grow said he believed the technical issues could be set aside and values discussed.
"We're here to request a waiver on the improvements which did not exist after the avalanche," said Steven Grow, representing the family.
David Grow, who's owned the resort since 1974, said the resort never made money except enough to cover operating expenses and to help with the upkeep of the nearby tourist park.
"We're hoping you can find a way to help. This is the minimum hope," he said. David Grow said the park could only be operated six months of the year and is often closed by weather and road conditions. He said since the landslide buried the resort, closing down the tram, restaurant and gift shop, he's been at a loss to know what to do to save it.
Last year he listed the 19 acres and cliff side for sale with Coldwell Banker Premier Realty for the asking price of $1.7 million.
In a letter to David Grow this month, county Assessor Claude Richards said taxes on the three properties come to $22,774.54 for the years 1993 through 1997 including interest and penalties, based on a low-end valuation of $300,000 for the resort area.
Grow is asking the county to reduce that assessment by at least $6,456.
"The law says that whatever the value was as of Jan. 1, stands," Grover said. "The conditions for you would have to be the same as for anyone else."
Herbert suggested Grow try to work out an arrangement for payment of the outstanding tax balance and the commission will talk about it further at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday.