Frenchtown mill site owner owes $425K in back taxes to Missoula County

2014-01-12T06:05:00Z 2015-02-27T15:23:54Z Frenchtown mill site owner owes $425K in back taxes to Missoula County

FRENCHTOWN – The company that bought the former Smurfit-Stone Container mill site nearly three years ago has missed its last three tax payments, costing Missoula County, Frenchtown schools, state school lands and special districts more than $425,0000.

Missoula County records show that M2Green Redevelopment LLC of Alton, Ill., is nearly $300,000 in arrears in 2012 and owes more than $128,000 for the first half of 2013. The year’s second half taxes will be due in May.

M2Green hasn’t paid a property tax bill since 2011, the year it purchased the shuttered mill and more than 3,000 acres that surround it.

According to the county’s chief financial officer Andrew Czorny, almost 50 percent of M2Green’s delinquent tax dollars were ticketed to the Frenchtown School District. That’s a hit of more than $200,000 for the district that opened a new junior high school in 2009, four months before Smurfit-Stone closed the 50-year-old plant for good.

The linerboard factory paid nearly $1.8 million in taxes in its final year of operation.

The Frenchtown Rural Fire District is out some $32,000 over the past year, while Missoula County’s own coffers are roughly $110,000 poorer without M2Green’s tax dollars.

“The county can weather the storm,” Czorny said. “But those other guys are going to be hurting.”

M2Green announced its purchase of what was originally a 3,200-acre site in May 2011 in a three-way deal with Smurfit-Stone and MLR Investments, which had signed a buy-sell agreement for the site earlier that year with the intention of scrapping it out.

The company sold 158 acres to a neighboring ranch last year, but still owns a dozen parcels of varying sizes at the site east of Frenchtown. Four parcels accrue tax liabilities of less than $50 a year each.

By far the most valuable is a 69-acre parcel at the hub of the former milling operations, where owners spent nearly two years removing buildings and scrapping out the papermaking equipment. According to the Missoula County property tax website, M2Green owes $377,000 on that land, with penalties adding some $20 a day.

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at (406) 523-5266 or by email at

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(14) Comments

  1. Objective observer
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    Objective observer - January 14, 2014 7:32 am
    "The super fund site minus a few million dollars in scrap metal will revert to the city and it will be the counties problem to clean it up. This is all perfectly legal by the way."

    You couldn't be more wrong on this. ARCO, which bought the Anaconda Copper Company decades ago, is still on the hook for the greater Butte Superfund site. Both M2Green and likely Stone-Smurfit will be held accountable and made to pay for the cleanup. That's how federal Superfund works.
  2. loch
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    loch - January 13, 2014 3:35 pm
    Ha,ha, I love it. The county just got screwed by a phony progressive green cause. These guys acted and stole the play book from corporate raiders. They will still pay taxes on the unpolluted, undeveloped parcels and keep them, then sell them. The super fund site minus a few million dollars in scrap metal will revert to the city and it will be the counties problem to clean it up. This is all perfectly legal by the way. The next time some greeny starts giving ethics lecture just bring this up.
  3. mike1
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    mike1 - January 12, 2014 9:43 pm
    Don't blame this irresponsibility to not pay taxes on "progressives"--this is just a case of an outfit being unethical and irresponsible. I don't blame all "conservatives" for the irresponsible act of shutting down the govt.,costing $24B, where we voters got hurt the most--just like Frenchtown got hurt the most.
  4. Lobo Bandito
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    Lobo Bandito - January 12, 2014 6:12 pm
    They should sell or scrap the rest of the mill. Maybe sell the property to the state for a good deal. They aren't paying the bills so they should cut their losses and leave. Then the state could pay the schools etc and then it being state land they should designate it a super fund site. Fix the river contamination and also fill in the dried up settling ponds so they don't create another EHD outbreak like last year. We already can't get cow elk tags in that district and then smurfits gnat and midge breeding grounds in those abandoned dry ponds greatly boosted the diseases destruction on our whitetail population. This "Green" company is affecting our children's education and our wildlife. I sure hope they turn things around soon as this is pathetic.
  5. in the pines
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    in the pines - January 12, 2014 4:21 pm
    The whole "sale" was a snow job from the beginning. Everyone involved, governor, mayor, whoever, was either hoodwinked or in on the deal.

    Where'd all the $ go from all the scrap hauled off the site, train car after train car done by the "green 2" people? They've been scrapping out the place for 2+ years, raping the salvage on this place.

    If it was me that far back on my taxes, my house would be gone. Why doesn't Missoula County have the backbone to foreclose on this property? Afraid of the toxic waste or what? What is the real story here?
  6. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - January 12, 2014 3:31 pm
    “The county can weather the storm,” Czorny said. “But those other guys are going to be hurting.”??????????

    Hey Mr. Corny..........WHY didn't you put a tax lien on M2Green?? Frenchtown schoolteachers and Missoula county would have been paid the taxes they so richly deserve (joking).

    Yes.......I do not have a big shot business degree from Havre Vo-Tech, but simple me what have slapped a tax lien on the entire property. (Oops......hope that does not hurt at review time for Mr. Corny).

    Who.......hired this guy?

    As for the $420k in has to wonder how raw land with environmental issues is taxed hundreds of thousands of dollars every year???? It is non-producing land for the most why the huge accessmen??

    County: We just want the Smurfit tax dollars real justification for absurd tax burden, but hey.......we got bills.....and Frenchtown has some really big bills.

    Solution: Oh yes! Mayor Engen welcomes you to the wonderful "Garden City!" We love taxes here......and roundabouts to nowhere, and ballparks that loose monies.......and endless tinkering in the relic called Higgins Avenue (RIP).
  7. Run - A- Mook
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    Run - A- Mook - January 12, 2014 3:29 pm
    Yes it is a shock, You don't realize that it is the well-connected progressive
    deadbeats i.e. Obama and his motley crew {this goes for your mayor and
    his crew, the gov. and his crew in Helena, the president of UM and all of
    his cohorts.} All you progressive think it's great as they grind it into your
    ear. {I kept it clean.} So all I can say is "lay down and enjoy it."
  8. Mr C
    Report Abuse
    Mr C - January 12, 2014 12:53 pm
    Lets ALL stop paying our taxes. If they can do it....why not the rest of us? What a huge waste. Not to mention loss of $$ for the schools, Fire Dept., and county.
  9. bdr
    Report Abuse
    bdr - January 12, 2014 12:04 pm
    Its a dam shame the country is run by lawyers and millionaires who enjoy each others company's unkept promises over 100 dollar lunches.
    425k in taxes will disappear sooner or later with 10cents of payment by a happy go lucky back slapping silver tongue attorney, Leaving Missoula to pay the bill and leaving the company boys fat and rich.
  10. Viceroy
    Report Abuse
    Viceroy - January 12, 2014 11:33 am
    It's incorrect to assume the current owners are getting special treatment, as they are still liable for the penalty and interest on these delinquent taxes just like anyone else would be. In this case it is probably going to be tens of thousands of dollars when all is said and done. If you live in a mobile home, then you are correct that your home would be up for auction by now. If you live in a house classified as real estate then you are mistaken, as real estates properties are given more time before they are subject to a tax deed sale. Finally, Missoula County doesn't write the tax laws, the state of Montana does.
  11. Got concrete
    Report Abuse
    Got concrete - January 12, 2014 10:50 am

  12. The_Boneshackler
    Report Abuse
    The_Boneshackler - January 12, 2014 9:02 am
    What a shock. It must be nice to be a well-connected deadbeat and be allowed to get away with it. If a little person like me stopped paying my property taxes, my house would be on the auction block in short order.
  13. mtbluedog
    Report Abuse
    mtbluedog - January 12, 2014 8:48 am
    Those M2Green punks were just a couple of scamming hipsters, making money from grants and tax incentives. Good luck getting anything from them. Give them enough rope and hang them high from what's left of the mill.
  14. jabo
    Report Abuse
    jabo - January 12, 2014 12:40 am
    Would the county really be this lenient on my tax bill? It amazes me that this charade goes on hoping that something becomes of the mill site.
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