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Realtor Association Official Critical of Missoula County for Spending $100,000 in Taxpayer Money in Losing Supreme Court Fight [AUDIO]

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On February 27, 2013, The Montana Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Missoula County and for a Missoula couple, Rob and Dawn Braach on the sale of their property.

Austin James, Public Affairs Director for the Missoula Organization of Realtors, said on Friday that the actions by Missoula County to appeal a previous District Court ruling by Judge Ed McLean on behalf of the Braachs, eventually cost Missoula taxpayers over $100,000.

The Missoula County Attorney’s office published a statement regarding this case on December 19, 2012 which read in part…

“A mortgage exemption is an exemption to the Montana Subdivision and Platting Act. It allows the use of a partial description of a tract of record as security for a mortgage or construction loan. The mortgage exemption is a lightly used exemption. We estimate that since this statute was adopted in 1973, Missoula County has approved less than 400 mortgage exemptions. To put that number in perspective, there are approximately 48,000 parcels of land in Missoula County.

The County Attorney’s office is required to interpret statutes as they are written. Sometimes attorneys disagree on interpretations, which has happened in the last year in Missoula County concerning a mortgage exemption. A case is pending in the Montana Supreme Court concerning one Missoula County property owner’s attempt to use a mortgage exemption to transfer the parcel to another owner without meeting the plain requirements of the exemption. The case has been before the Montana Supreme Court since early November. We cannot predict when the decision will be made but expect it will be within two to three months, based on the Supreme Court’s usual timeline for decisions. What effect, if any, the pending decision might have cannot be known until the decision is announced. We expect that we will continue to work with property owners to resolve any issues relating to transfers of property.”

The County was required to pay fees and costs for both sides, which totaled nearly $100,000.

Rob Braach, a Missoula accountant, was recently involved in another case before the District court, in which he, along with members of another family, the Sanns, were accused of “cramming”, that is, adding unauthorized charges to the telephone bills of consumers around the country. That case has yet to be resolved.

Austin James of the Missoula Organization of Realtors

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