Routt County treasurer, Peabody reach agreement
November 1, 2016
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County and entities including the South Routt School District and South Routt Medical Center will soon have overdue tax payments from Peabody Energy Holdings, the company announced Monday.
Peabody, along with a public relations firm working on behalf of Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn, said in a news release that an agreement will allow for the payment of "nearly $1.8 million in 2015 property taxes for Routt County."
Peabody, which filed bankruptcy in April, was cleared to pay the overdue taxes in July, but Horn had refused to accept the payment unless it included interest and fees on top of the $1.77 million in taxes, citing a legal obligation to accept the interest and fees at the same time as the tax payment.
The news release was worded in a vague manner that doesn't reveal whether the payment includes interest or additional legal fees sought by Horn.
The news release was sent to the Steamboat Today just before 4 p.m. Monday, but Horn and a media contact listed on the release were unable to provide further details about the agreement as of early Monday evening.
County manager Tom Sullivan and attorney Erik Knaus said Monday afternoon they also learned the news of the agreement via the same news release and were also unaware of whether the payment would include the interest and fees sought by Horn.
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Horn thanked Peabody in the news release for their work in reaching the agreement.
"I thank Peabody for its proactive and positive approach in resolving this complex matter," Horn wrote.
According to the news release, the money had already been wired to Horn for payment to county taxing authorities.
News of the agreement was "thrilling" for South Routt School District Superintendent Darci Mohr, who was in the process of finishing letters to Horn and Peabody urging a speedy resolution of the tax payment issue.
Mohr said as soon as the district receives its share of the taxes, it will move forward with repaying $565,000 of a $1 million loan the district received from the State Board of Education’s contingency fund in July.
The district will hold on to the remaining $435,000 of the loan for now, as the money was an advance for 2017 payments expected from Peabody.
"It's a big sigh of relief that we can move forward and maybe put the contingency plan discussion on a back burner, hopefully for good," Mohr said.
The South Routt Board of Education met in a special session Thursday to discuss contingency plans for acquiring money to repay the state if the treasurer and Peabody were unable to resolve the situation.