Grand Valley Auto values its reputation more than $33,000, Wayne Damico said.
Damico, who works as the Internet and inventory manager for the Grand Junction-based car dealership, said he was dismayed to hear concerns about his company's recent "tent" sale at Centennial Mall.
Allegations arose that the company lied to auto buyers and told them they would not have to pay the total 4.25 percent sales tax charged by Craig and Moffat County on their new vehicles.
After hearing concerns about its operation in Craig, Grand Valley has opted to send every local buyer a check made out to the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder's Office for the amount of local sales tax due. The total taxes due on 67 cars sold equals about $33,000, Damico said.
The money will come out of profits made during the sale, though Damico could not say how much Grand Valley made during its Craig visit. It's more important for the company to keep its reputation than the money, Damico said.
"When it became such a huge issue, we have friends up there and they were calling me and asking me what we had done," he said. "We want to come back to Craig. We're not some 'fly by night' company."
By Colorado law, a buyer must pay all applicable taxes in the area he or she registers their vehicle.
Because the automobiles were bought in Craig and customers picked them up in Craig, they are subject to local sales taxes.
Grand Valley does not collect taxes local to Moffat County and Craig, however, because they operate out of Grand Junction, Damico said. He denied the charge that his company's salesmen told customers they never would pay local sales taxes.
"Nobody told the customers they weren't going to be liable for those taxes," he said.
The Colorado Department of Revenue conducted an inquiry into the dealership's Craig sales, Damico added, and concluded that Grand Valley conducted the operation "by the book."
Mark Couch, Department of Revenue spokesman, could not comment on the situation or confirm that an investigation took place, though he did say no official charges of fraud or other violations have been filed.
Damico said no one from the state prompted his company to pay people for their taxes. That decision came from the company's sales people, he said.
Couch said that, in general, for any auto dealer fraud case, the state does not require a company to pay someone's tax bill.
Damico said the uproar of fraud allegations from local auto dealers had more to do with their loss in sales than anything else.
"We came up there with variety, and sometimes people want different things than what they see all the time," he said. "I think this sale was so successful that it prompted the (local dealers) to want to make us look bad."
Dealership owners and employees have accused Grand Valley of trying to "steal" sales tax money from buyers and local governments. In one case, an employee said he felt the city should ban outside dealers because they do not contribute to the community - in taxes, jobs and income - the way local dealerships do.
Damico said his business only provided residents with options for cars to buy, and contributed to the local economy by doing business here.
"We had a lot of people working there," he said. "They spent a lot of money on hotel rooms, at restaurants, shopping. We spent a lot of money there. The only people that didn't benefit were the car dealers."
Elaine Sullivan, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder, has seen the public face of this dispute, as she is charged with collecting all sales taxes due on new vehicles. After learning that Grand Valley was mailing people checks for their tax balance, she said she was "extremely happy with the way things turned out."