MONTPELIER, Vermont — Gov. Peter Shumlin promised Friday to address the concerns of a neighbor whose property he purchased well below market value after the man's family complained he was mentally unfit to represent himself in the transaction.
The property next to Shumlin's in East Montpelier was facing a tax sale last fall when Shumlin agreed to buy it for $58,000 — paying off the $18,000 in taxes owed on it as well as the man's back child support.
But the family of Jeremy Dodge says he got a raw deal. The 16-acre property had been assessed at $233,700 — a figure later lowered to $140,000 when Shumlin asked for it to be reassessed.
Dodge told the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus earlier this week that he regretted making the deal.
"I got ripped off, plain and simple," said Dodge, who was not represented by an attorney or real estate agent in the sale. "I wish it had turned out differently. I wish that I had let it go to tax auction."
Shumlin said Friday he met with Dodge and delivered a letter promising to work out a deal to their mutual agreement. He declined to discuss details in interviews with reporters but indicated he wasn't interested in nullifying the deal.
"I'm willing to work with him to ensure that he ends up in a place that he feels better," Shumlin told Vermont Public Radio.
Shumlin defended the deal, saying Dodge approached him and said he had no family to turn to for help. The home was in bad condition, Shumlin said, which prompted him to ask for a reassessment.
Dodge's family and Shumlin's political rivals have criticized the deal, saying he should have helped Dodge explore other options, including a program that would have allowed him a tax break based on his income.
Shumlin said criticism of the sale is misplaced — he said he was trying to help a neighbor out of a jam.