City's foreclosure of Bingman properties upheld on appeal

Aug 15, 2016

KDLG:  The Supreme Court of Alaska has again upheld a lower court ruling that allowed the City of Dillingham to foreclose on James Bingman's Sr.'s properties following years of tax delinquency.

In an opinion issued August 12, Alaska's top justices said they found "no error" in the civil case presided by Judge Pat Douglass which granted the City the right to foreclose on the properties and sell them to recoup Bingman's tax debt.

In this appeal, not his first attempt at overturning the superior court's finding against him, Bingman argued the City had accepted his June 2014 "Security Agreement" and "Promissory Note" in which he agreed to pay the $88,250.49 in 20 years. Setting his own rules, according to the opinion Bingman's agreement "required the City, in order to effectively reject Bingman’s offer, to (1) return the agreement and all attachments; (2) deliver a corrected statement of account; (3) deliver notification of refusal of tender and provide legal citations explaining why the tender was defective; and (4) deliver a signed notification of rejection with legal citations and an affidavit explaining why the agreement was unreasonable, in a form admissible in court. The City was given 14 days to reject the agreement; silence or an inadequate rejection would constitute acceptance. And any correspondence mailed to an address other than Bingman’s California “ServiceAddress” would not be considered 'received' by Bingman."

The City rejected these terms in letter delivered to his Dillingham address. But Bingman argued that, based on his terms, the City had formed a contract with him. Not mincing words, the justices said Bingman's arguments "have no support in either the law or the facts."

The superior court judgment was affirmed. Based on that judgment, Dillingham foreclosed on his rental properties and sold them at auction to recover the unpaid back taxes.  A strip of property at the Dillingham Harbor previously owned by Bingman was kept by the City, which is clearing it out for other use.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.