Opinion filed in tax lawsuit against county

By Amanda McBride The Choctaw Plaindealer

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Clarence E. Morgan III recently filed his opinion in a lawsuit filed by Choctaw Gas Generation, LLC against Choctaw County.

Choctaw Gas Generation filed the lawsuit concerning the amount of fee- in-lieu of ad valorem taxes they were required to pay to Choctaw County for the years 2009 and 2010.

A trial was held in Choctaw County in March 2012 where both sides presented their case along with testimonies from witnesses and expert witnesses on economic obsolescence and how to figure an amount of obsolescence.

Choctaw Gas Generation believed they should have paid a reduced amount of fee-in-lieu ad valorem taxes then they were required to by the Choctaw County Board of Supervisors and the Tax Assessor/ Collector for 2009 and 2010.

Choctaw County used the method of figuring Choctaw Gas Generation’s fee-in-lieu amount that was agreed upon in the 2001 ad valorem tax contract signed by both parties. This contract also states if requested by Choctaw Gas then the county tax assessor was to consider any obsolescence in accordance with Mississippi State Tax guidelines.

After three days of trial and five months of deliberation, Judge Morgan filed his opinion on August 31.

The conclusion of his opinion states, “The Court finds that CGG (Choctaw Gas Generation), by failing to request the Tax Collector to consider economic obsolesce in her assessment of the fee-in-lieu, thereby, waived its right to protest the assessment. There being no right to protest, therefore, there is no right to appeal to this Court. This Court finds, further, that the County has accepted the assessment for 2009 that allowed 25 percent economic obsolescence and that since CGG made no request of the Tax Assessor to consider economic obsolescence for 2010, it was within the Board’s power under the Tax Contract to reject any allowance for economic obsolescence for that year.”

“The County requests an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to 11-51-77 MCA. By this opinion, this Court has found that CGG had no right to protest the assessment or appeal to his Court and therefore, 11-51-77 MCA does not apply and no award of attorney’s fees is allowed.”

“It is therefore ordered that the Plaintiff’s suits in this cause be and they are hereby dismissed and the County’s request for attorney’s fees is denied. All costs are assessed to the Plaintiff.”