"It's my homestead. You know I planned on dying here," Jerry Dodge told WCAX News in May.
Dodge was trying to avoid a tax sale and had sold his home and 16 acres to Gov. Peter Shumlin for $58,000, well below the assessed value. Dodge was weeks away from eviction.
Reporter Jennifer Reading/May 23: How do you think you are going to feel come July 15?
Jerry Dodge/May 23: Real bad. Like I disappointed Mom and Dad.
Dodge's kids were outraged when they learned of the sale, arguing their dad was not mentally capable of negotiating without a lawyer.
Shumlin initially defended the deal as fair, but amid mounting public scrutiny the governor agreed to renegotiate with Dodge. Dodge's lawyer, Brady Toensing, confirmed a new agreement Thursday, allowing Dodge to buy back the property.
"An agreement has been reached in principal and the details of the agreement will be worked out over the next few weeks, but basically it's a clerical task," Toensing said.
The governor estimates he paid Dodge about $30,000 so far for the East Montpelier property. Under the new deal, Dodge can keep his home and repay the $30,000 over five years.
"That's a great outcome for him. That's a great outcome for me. So, I'm thrilled that it's worked out the way that it has," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Shumlin's lawyer says a mortgage will be set up for Dodge. He'll be required to make an interest-only payment once a year for the first four years, followed by an interest and principal payment on the fifth year.
"So, the good news is it's not a huge amount of money and we're still working out the details, but we're going to make it very possible for him to make those payments," Shumlin said.
Political analyst Eric Davis says striking a deal was a smart move for Vermont's leader.
"The last thing the governor needed is this issue hanging on for several more months and periodically resurfacing in terms of media coverage and distracting him from the agenda he wants to pursue for the rest of this term as governor," Davis said.
But Davis does not think the sour land deal will resonate with voters a year from now.
"He hasn't built up a great reservoir of personal enthusiasm that a lot of other candidates in Vermont have," Davis said. "And it's going to take a while for Shumlin to build up that sort of personal appeal and this story makes it a bit more difficult. But I don't see it as damaging in any way in terms of harming his re-election prospects."
The governor says the real estate ordeal has taught him Vermonters hold him to a higher standard.
"I recognize that as governor, I'm governor every single day. That's the lesson for me," Shumlin said. "And obviously I regret getting involved in what was a very difficult situation because of the fact that I'm always governor and I am held to a different standard than average citizens."
Dodge's lawyer asked him not to do any on-camera interviews with the media Thursday. But Wednesday night Dodge called it a good deal and said keeping his land is all he was after.
Dodge does not earn a lot of money. And the governor's lawyer says the goal is to work out a payment plan that Dodge can meet. In the end, however, it is a mortgage and if Dodge doesn't pay, the governor will have a foreclosure option. Once the home is in Dodge's name he will be eligible to lower his property tax payments. He was paying about $4,500, but using income sensitivity he should have owed one-tenth of that-- about $460. Dodge says had he known about that option he would not have gotten behind on his taxes in the first place, which is what led to the sale.
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-05 01:05:10 GMT
Burlington's deputy police chief is off the hook on drunk driving charges after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors Wednesday.More >>
Burlington's deputy police chief took a plea deal Wednesday, and then announced his retirement. The plea gets Andi Higbee off the hook for drunk driving, but the resolution of the case also ends his 24-year career with the BPD.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:45 AM EST2013-12-04 14:45:58 GMT
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End. It happened Tuesday afternoon on Marble Ave. Investigators say Bryan Frazier, 30, and Rashad Sabree,More >>
Police are looking for two Massachusetts men in connection with an assault and robbery in Burlington's South End.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 9:31 AM EST2013-12-04 14:31:50 GMT
An accused murderer has fired his investigator. Dennis Tribble was convicted of murder twice. The 63-year-old Vermont man was convicted of shooting and killing Michael Borello in 2000. But the VermontMore >>
An accused murderer has fired his investigator.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:24 PM EST2013-12-04 23:24:21 GMT
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges. Police say Joshua Loura is now linked to three break-ins in Wolcott and Johnson. He was already accused ofMore >>
He's already in jail accused of burglaries, now a Lamoille County man is facing more charges.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:18 PM EST2013-12-05 01:18:10 GMT
Some of Vermont's craft beers are so popular they are being re-sold illegally on the internet, and now the state is cracking down. Brewers like Heady Topper, Hill Farmstead and Lawson's Finest have notedMore >>
Has the Heady Topper craze gotten out of control? Now, a lawyer is in trouble with the law for allegedly trying to capitalize on the Vermont craft brew craze.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 6:03 PM EST2013-12-04 23:03:30 GMT
Still no word from investigators on what caused a fatal fire in Northern New York. Police say Sierra Daha, 22, died in the fire at her home on Dugway Road in Moriah Tuesday morning. An autopsy was completedMore >>
Still no word from investigators on what caused a fatal fire in Northern New York.More >>
Wednesday, December 4 2013 8:09 PM EST2013-12-05 01:09:38 GMT
Betsy Bishop and staff at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce spent much of the year on the phone, convincing business operators to bring their insurance business to the state's online marketplace. But now,More >>
Individual and family enrollments are picking up speed on Vermont Health Connect, but a new extension for businesses is forcing some to re-think health coverage strategies... again.More >>