County loses out on property tax revenue from Kmart dollars

Although Craig's Kmart on Victory Way may be experiencing robust sales, the company's national bankruptcy filing is trickling down to the local economy.

According to County Attorney Kathleen Taylor, Kmart owes the county almost $30,000 in personal property taxes for 2001 and 2002 but the county may only realize a portion of that.

Under certain bankruptcy filing conditions, businesses aren't required to pay back personal property taxes in full.

Kmart is proposing a roughly $14,000 settlement for 2001 taxes, Taylor said.

But Moffat County commissioners voted 3-0 to halt extensive county efforts to challenge the proposal and decided instead to settle out of court.

"When I talk to (Kmart), I'm going to make it very clear that we're a small county and this is going to have a very detrimental effect on our taxes," Taylor said.

To fight Kmart's tax payment proposal, the county would have to hire outside legal representation who would travel to Illinois, Kmart's corporate home.

It's unclear whether the county would gain money from back taxes after paying for lawyer services and especially without knowing the outcome of the hearing, commissioners said.

"My thought at first was to fight it because we would have money to gain, but I'm not sure if that's even possible," said County Assessor Suzanne Brinks.

Commissioners likened the Kmart situation to the county's loss of dollars this year from a decrease of state valuations on oil and gas holdings. Utilities make up Moffat County's top ten taxpayers, which paid more than $14 million in taxes in 2002.

"You could say the same for Tri-State, whatever is happening everywhere else is affecting us here, too," said Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos about the power plant at the Craig Station with utilities elsewhere.

Commissioner Darryl Steele addressed the county's financial loss from only receiving a portion of Kmart's taxes.

"If we have businesses doing fine all the extra ones have to pick up for (Kmart's) slack," he said. "If Kmart wasn't there -- there would be a lot of other businesses taking up that space that may generate more taxes."

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