By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Quantum Utility Generation filed an objection to their 2013 land roll taxes. August 5 was the day for anyone to file an objection to his or her land taxes with the Choctaw County Board of Supervisors.
Sean O’Donnell, chief financial officer, with Quantum was present at the meeting to file the objection.
He asked the Board of Supervisors and Lori Kerr, tax assessor, why their request for economic obsolesce was denied. O’Donnell said that Quantum sent the tax assessor’s office a packet of detailed information in June and never received a response until July 29. He said on July 29 they received a fax from Kerr stating their request was denied without explanation.
O’Donnell asked, in the meeting, what factors or analysis were considered in Kerr’s decision to deny their request.
District 3 Supervisor Chris McIntire, also board president, explained the process. He said that a person or industry must submit a request to Kerr then she and her staff make the decision, as her job as tax assessor, whether or not to grant economic obsolesce or to make any changes. Then the board hears objections to her decision, takes the objection under consideration and is required by law to make a decision of upholding her decision or not by then end of August.
“We do not have the authority or the skills to assess taxes,” McIntire added.
O’Donnell responded, “I don’t know what to object to because I don’t know her analysis. How do I request that?”
Kerr then referred questions to Peyton Prospere, county’s hired attorney with Watkins & Eager Law Firm.
Propsere said Quantum submitted documents containing information about their purchase of the power plant, an appraisal by Michael Greene and a request for economic obsolesce.
O’Donnell asked him if the submitted documents were sufficient based on Greg Nowell’s, county appraiser, request.
“That is hard to say. The burden is on the taxpayer to prove economic obsolesce,” said Prospere.
He discussed how the 10-year fee in lieu agreement with the plant is place, it’s significance and that controls the amount of taxes to be paid by Quantum.
O’Donnell briefly outlined the financial picture of Quantum for the supervisors and said they are trying to have better communication than the previous owners of the plant.
He asked the board, Kerr and Prospere several times about how Kerr made her decision to deny their request for economic obsolesce. He never received a direct answer.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here today, until I know the tax assessor’s rationale on the decision made…” said O’Donnell.
Steve Wright, board attorney, reminded him that the supervisors would review the information he submitted to the tax assessor, give it consideration and will make a decision. He added that Quantum already receives a two-thirds tax break, in the fee in lieu agreement.
McIntire finally told O’Donnell that economic obsolesce was explained to him as “a permanent stumbling block for that business.”
After more discussion, the board approved to recognize Quantum’s objection.
Another objection to land taxes was filed by Louise Howell.
She objected to the land taxes on her property that once was a rental property.
McIntire explained that rental property taxes are higher than residential property. Howell said she has not rented the property in many years.
The board approved to recognize her objection.