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County negotiating with Balkamp over rent dispute

GREENWOOD — Balkamp, a NAPA parts distributor who closed down its Greenwood distribution center in 2009, is negotiating with Leflore County over a dispute over back rent.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports that the company made an offer to the county, which was rejected by the board of supervisors, which told board attorney Joyce Chiles to make a counter-offer.

The roots of the dispute go back more than 30 years.

In 1977, Balkamp bought property in the Greenwood-Leflore Industrial Park and deeded it to Leflore County to secure bonds that it used to build its facility.

Balkamp’s attorney, Hiram Eastland III, said Balkamp paid more than $3 million over 25 years to satisfy the bonds.

Eastland said the intent of the original lease was for Balkamp to retain the property after repaying the bonds. He said Balkamp had a $1,000 purchase.

Eastland said by the time Balkamp paid off the bonds in 2002, no one from the original deal was still around. He said the $1,000 purchase option was never taken — which he described as an oversight — but the tax assessor switched the property from the county to Balkamp.

Eastland said Balkamp assumed it owned the property.

Eastland said when Balkamp did a title search in preparation for selling the property, it realized the deed was still in the county’s name.

Eastland said Balkamp came to the board of supervisors a year ago and attempted to buy the building for $1,000. However, board members said Balkamp owed it rent dating back to 2001 or 2002.

Chiles said the county’s contract with Balkamp said that if Balkamp did not purchase the building, then it would pay the county $17,500 rent per year.

She said Balkamp did not buy the building and the rent has not been paid. The county wants to enforce the terms of the contract, she said.

Eastland said the county never issued a demand for rent or gave notice of default until he came to the board in 2010.

Balkamp has not paid its $70,500 2010 tax bill, but Eastland said it will do so once the rent issue is settled.

Eastland said Balkamp is in a better position than the county to market the now-empty 140,000-square-foot warehouse to other industries.

Eastland said the county would receive taxes on the property if it remains privately owned.

Source: The Associated Press


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