Mohave County Superior Court judge begins process of auctioning off Chloride town sites

Honorable Charles Gurtler promises to waive his $5 fee

Chloride’s town sign.

Courtesy

Chloride’s town sign.

KINGMAN – Charles Gurtler is taking on the sticky task of auctioning off town sites in Chloride that previous presiding judges of Mohave County Superior Court were unwilling to touch.

And he’s promised to waive his $5 fee to handle the legal proceedings.

Gurtler, in a presentation to Mohave County Board of Supervisors at Monday’s regular meeting, said the presiding judge has been vested with the authority to convey title to the town sites.

The problem is that judges were unwilling to act on the town sites, given complications such as roads cutting through parcels and encroachment from existing buildings, Gurtler said.

“They had no idea of what the problems might be,” the judge said.

His goal is to get the 20 to 25 town sites onto Mohave County’s property tax rolls, as they’ve been collecting no tax revenue over the last 100-plus years since Arizona became a state. The town sites were created both before and after Arizona gained statehood.

Carol Meier, the late county assessor, had worked out a program to auction off some of the lots, Gurtler said.

In handling the town site sales, presiding judges or whoever handled the auction had to post bond. Virlynn Tinnell, clerk of the Superior Court, has agreed to handle the bond.

The problem with selling the sites is an “archaic” statute from 1913 that requires three appraisals, with the appraisers to be paid $5. Nobody will do the appraisal for $5 today, Gurtler said.

Mohave County Assessor’s Office has agreed to provide appraisals for fair market value of the town sites. Chloride currently has an account with $1,800 from the last sale back in the 1960s.

Money from the town site sales would go into that account, not the county’s general fund, Gurtler noted.

He wanted to get those parcels on the county’s tax rolls after returning from hearing oral arguments in an Arizona Supreme Court. There were two checks totaling $38,000 on his desk for two of the lots.

Those lots with encroachments have a provision that if the owners can establish improvements of at least $100, they can purchase the lot at fair market value without going to auction, Gurtler explained.

Supervisor Buster Johnson asked Gurtler about buildings on the land, and whether the county was collecting taxes from those structures. He also wanted to know if they would be given occupancy.

“It’s a simple transfer of title,” Gurtler responded. “As they say in real estate, they’re taking it ‘warts and all.’”

One of the encroachments is from the Chloride Community Association, which has a good-size building and part of a park on the lot. If the association incorporates or becomes a limited liability company, or LLC, Gurtler can dedicate the lot to be part of the park.

Gurtler said he’ll set up an open meeting in Chloride with a list of town sites subject to auction and an explanation of the process.