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Grundy County Board to vote on LyondellBasell settlement

Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 9:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 7, 2014 10:58 p.m. CDT

MINOOKA – LyondellBasell could be paying about $3.5 million to local taxing bodies if a settlement agreement is approved by the Grundy County Board at Tuesday’s meeting.

The long-standing lawsuit began in 2003 when Equistar Chemicals – now known as LyondellBasell – disputed Grundy County’s property value assessment of its plant located on Tabler Road.

While in the midst of that dispute with the county, LyondellBasell declared bankruptcy in 2009.

A court ruled that the company would not have to pay property taxes while it was in bankruptcy court so local taxing bodies did not receive tax revenues from the plant for two years.

The current settlement agreement resolves the property tax disputes, missed property tax payments and sets the plant’s EAV moving forward.

Superintendents of Minooka school districts 201 and 111 are especially excited about the pending settlement since they make up about 75 percent of company’s tax bill, District 111 Superintendent James Colyott said.

“We’re just thrilled that this is set to be finalized and approved,” said Al Gegenheimer, Minooka School District 201’s superintendent. “It’s been a long time coming.”

LyondellBasell’s $3.5 million payment accounts for the two years of missing property tax payments during its bankruptcy.

This amount also takes into account other factors, including the fact that the company paid extra in taxes in 2003 and 2004 when the plant property was assessed at too high of a value.

Of the $3.5 million payment, District 111 will receive about $1.2 million and District 201 will receive about $1.4 million.

Twelve other taxing bodies, including Grundy County, also will receive a smaller portion of the payout.

Colyott said his district did not plan on receiving the payment this year so it was not included in this year’s budget.

He said the money will most likely be used to reduce any deficits the district may have.

“Going ahead, this provides an incredible amount of certainty for schools in their budget planning,” Colyott said.

The agreement also sets the plant’s EAV until tax year 2016 at around $95 million, which is higher than the property’s current EAV, Gegenheimer said.

“The only thing that will happen to the EAV is it’s going to go higher,” Gegenheimer said. “That’s really good news.”

Both districts already approved the settlement during previous board sessions and the Grundy County Tax Committee approved it at the most recent tax meeting Wednesday.

The Grundy County Board is scheduled to vote on the LyondellBasell settlement as well as the Dresden Station agreement Tuesday.

If the two items are passed, the county will be free from any pending litigation for the first time in several years.

“That’s kind of a milestone for the county,” tax committee chairman Chris Balkema said. “It’s great to be in concert and harmony with the county and the companies in the area.”

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