AYER — Ayer livestock farmer Ralph McNiff of Westford Road has paid $29,300 in back property taxes dating back to August 2008.
That confirmation came Monday from Ayer Town Treasurer Stephanie Gintner. She confirms the payment was deposited into town bank accounts on June 30, the deadline day to pay or else face eviction, according to a deal McNiff stuck with selectmen on May 4.
Gintner said, in return, the town will return to Land Court to seek reversal of the February judgment conveying title to the town after McNiff’s nonpayment of real estate taxes. Interim Town Administrator Jeff Ritter said on Monday that McNiff’s attorney, Sherrill Gould of Littleton, was handling the filing with the town’s assent so as to prevent any additional legal expense for the town.
Had McNiff, 68, failed to meet the June 30 payment deadline, the selectmen threatened to follow through on its powers to evict McNiff, his cattle and pigs from the five-acre Westford Road property they all continued to live on.
Ritter said a Department of Agriculture inspection of the animals last week went positively for McNiff.
Messages left with McNiff and Gould on Tuesday were not immediately returned.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the selectmen expressed relief that the showdown was over regarding the back taxes. But the selectmen also were hopeful that McNiff would honor the spirit of their closed-door discussions to work to beautify his farm.
“The two legs of that commitment was to pay taxes and to get his farm up to optimum standards,” Selectman Jim Fay said. Fay said he’d hoped that McNiff would avail himself of an opportunity presented by a volunteer agricultural group to lend a hand to help reorganize the farming operation.