Back taxes on former mill paid

The Florida-based owner of the former Kieffer Paper Mills Inc. property in Brownstown recently paid the county $211,332.01 to bring delinquent personal and property taxes up to date.

The Sept. 21 payment from Unicell Paper Mills Inc. of Lake Mary, Fla., included penalties from previous years in which taxes on two pieces of property at 1220 W. Spring St. were not paid. The properties had been listed in an Oct. 11 tax sale scheduled at the courthouse in Brownstown.

Unicell Paper Mills Inc., which is part of the Sharma Group of Companies, purchased Kieffer Paper Mills Inc. in December 2003.

A Sharma spokesman on Tuesday declined to discuss the company’s present plans for the 32.63-acre site.

On Dec. 16, 2003, Unicell officials announced plans to invest $36 million, replacing one mill and renovating a pulp mill at the plant. Those officials said the company would hire 67 workers at an average wage of $16 per hour and plan to be operational in 2006. None of those plans materialized.

The company also paid about $190,000 in delinquent property taxes, interest and penalties after the purchase in 2003 because the property was in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

In 2008, the Jackson County Council and the company worked out an agreement that required the company to pay back property taxes of $110,348.58 by Sept. 1 of that year. The agreement also required the company to begin construction at the plant by the end of 2008 and begin hiring by Aug. 1, 2009. Those plans never materialized either.

Brownstown Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said Tuesday that Unicell also recently paid delinquent sewer bills on the property that stretched back several months.

The company, however, also asked the town to disconnect the plant from the sewer system, Willey said.

That can be done because the building has not had water service for several years, Willey said.

Kieffer Papers Mills had been in operation in Brownstown since 1899 but closed in the late 1990s.

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