Wapello County Courthouse, Courier file photo

OTTUMWA — A miscommunication over a dilapidated building led supervisors to abate taxes for an Ottumwa property.

Supervisor Jerry Parker said the site in the 700 block of Wabash Avenue once had a structure on it, but didn’t by the time the tax bill came due. So the owner, who purchased the land at a sheriff’s sale, was billed for what the county thought was there.

The catch: the building was removed in November 2017.

“The county had not been notified that the structure was taken down,” Parker said.

When the bill for more than $680 arrived, the owner asked the county to take a second look. When they did, they found the property shouldn’t have been taxed as anything other than a vacant lot.

The supervisors’ vote Tuesday morning struck the tax bill because of the error.

The county hit another property owner with a new bill. The county took action for abatement of a health or safety hazard on a property in the 15000 block of Blackhawk Road, and Iowa law allows government bodies to recoup costs when that happens. The resolution shows an assessment of $10,000

While Tuesday’s meeting was brief, next week’s session could take longer. And not all of it will be open to the public. Parker asked the board to schedule a closed session to discuss legal proceedings.

Under Iowa law, discussion of legal strategy for a case that is in progress or imminent is one of the reasons government bodies can close their proceedings to the public.

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Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.