Otter Tail County commissioners offered deal regarding a tax-forfeited property

Former owners suggest building should've been tax-exempt status

A Pelican Rapids property was tax-forfeited to the state, as taxes had not been paid since 2017. The previous owners suggested because the building was to be a house of worship, it should not have been required to pay taxes.
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OTTER TAIL COUNTY – The Otter Tail County commissioners were asked to return a building that was tax-forfeited to its most recent owners.

The property, located at 1201 County Highway 9, Pelican Rapids, has been a bowling alley and event center in years past. Whether or not the property was ever designated a church is under question.

During the county commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, it was noted that the property is currently owned by the State of Minnesota, but the county was given control of the property. It was noted the taxes were not paid in 2017 through its forfeiture in 2021. The amount noted to be due in past taxes was about $14,000.

The commissioners were asked to accept half the taxes due, release the tax judgment and give the property back to its previous owners with a house of worship tax-exempt status. In exchange, the previous owners would not pursue legal action.

Lawyer John Boulger attended the meeting on behalf of the Islamic Society of Fargo-Moorhead, which owned the building prior to tax-forfeiture status. Boulger said documents had been sent to the county for property tax exemption.


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The property location marked in red is where the parcel discussed at the county commissioner meeting is located.
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The county representatives clarified to the commissioners that the application that was submitted did not include the required supporting documents. The county attorney noted all churches, public hospitals and others looking for tax-exempt status have the same requirement to provide verification that the building is going to be used as stated on the application.

Boulger said documentation (financial statements, documentation, bylaws …) would be sent in by the end of the week, but not the 501(c)(3) designation.

The county attorney agreed that a 501(c)(3) non-profit status was not required by churches.

The commissioners tabled further discussion on the building until its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

The previous owners then asked if they would be allowed to access the building for inspections (to ensure no water leakage or other issues happen). The commissioners agreed, as long as a staff member of the city of Pelican Rapids or a county representative accompanied the person checking the building.

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