Peabody Energy and Routt County, CO reached an agreement on overdue property taxes and the company wired about $1.8 million for 2015 taxes to the Routt County Treasurer’s Office on Oct. 31.
Peabody failed to pay its Routt County taxes in June after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. About $1 million of the overdue amount was owed to the South Routt School District, which was forced to obtain a monetary advance from the Colorado Department of Education and a loan from the state Board of Education.
The Denver Post reported that earlier this year the company attempted to pay the taxes, however, Routt County treasurer Brita Horn rejected checks submitted by Peabody totaling $1,798.507.38 because the company had not included more than $91,000 in interest and fees. She said she refused to cut special deals for some taxpayers because it would “erode public trust.”
Horn said then that Peabody had stipulated that accepting the checks would mean the outstanding tax amount should be considered waived. She said that under state law the county can’t reduce or waive taxes or fees greater than $50. She also said it’s an issue of fairness and treating everyone equally.
“By law, if my office can’t offer a tax break to a single mom who worries about feeding her children, I’m not going to offer one to a multinational corporation that just asked the bankruptcy court to pay its executives $12 million in bonuses,” Horn said in the August release.
The October news release announcing that Peabody has wired the funds to the treasurer did not specify whether the company had agreed to pay the interest and fees. It noted that the company paid “nearly $1.8 million” and did so after it became apparent that the delay due to the bankruptcy was creating hardship on the county.
“This agreement reflects our hard, out-of-the-spotlight work with a valued, long-standing community partner,” Horn said in a prepared statement. “I thank Peabody for its proactive and positive approach in resolving this complex matter.”
“As a long-time employer and member of the Routt County community, we’re pleased to successfully resolve the payment process based on what the court has allowed and Colorado law,” said Kemal Williamson, Peabody president-Americas, in the same joint release.