A recent decision by the Michigan Tax Tribunal is about to cost Baraga County a whole lot of money. Owners of the L’Anse Warden Power Plant were successful in having the assessment of their facility rolled back considerably for the 2010 and 2011 tax years.
L’Anse Township had valued the plant at 17-million dollars in 2010, and 18-million in 2011. Warden’s owners contended that the plant was worth about half that – six-million in 2010, and 10-million in 2011. The initial decision in the case favored L’Anse Township. This week’s decision reversed that.
The bottom line is that Baraga County needs to refund L’Anse Warden $344,418.46 in overpaid taxes and interest, and the check needs to be turned over by mid-September. Baraga County Treasurer Anne Koski says it isn’t just the county government that will suffer. All of the public entities that received some of that tax money when it was collected will need to give their shares back. The Village of L’Anse is on the hook for nearly 80-thousand dollars. The L’Anse School District will lose 35-thousand dollars collected to pay off bonds. The district will also lose significant operating funds, but those will be made up by the state. Fire protection, ambulance service, road maintenance – any organization that received part of the tax over-collection will need to pay the money back.
Koski says the county is initially responsible for making the full $344,418.46 payment – a tough task, when you consider that’s roughly 10 percent of the county’s annual budget. Money distributed by the county to other entities will be recouped by deducting it from future tax payouts. Koski adds that this may just be the first blow. Warden’s owners are also challenging their more recent assessments.
Several public officials in Baraga County who wish to remain anonymous say they are very upset with L’Anse Township, which declined to send an attorney to make an appearance at the appeal hearing. L’Anse Township will lose five-thousand dollars because of the decision.