By Warren Bluhm
Judges in the Dominion Energy Kewaunee Inc. v. Town of Carlton lawsuits have approved a stipulation and order consolidating the cases and granting a 60-day stay in the proceedings.
The two sides reached an agreement in January that the assessment of the closed Kewaunee Power Station nuclear plant will be $15 million.
The company, which argued the plant was worth nothing but offered to accept a $10 million assessment, sued in 2015 after paying a property tax bill based on the town’s $457.4 million assessment. A second suit was filed over the 2016 assessment of nearly $469 million.
The agreement entitles Dominion to refunds of nearly $12 million, and although the company waives its right to seek a refund of the town’s portion of those refunds, it is asking the county, Kewaunee School District and other tax entities to reimburse what is now conceded to be an overpayment of its property taxes.
The stipulation and order, signed Jan. 31 by Judges D. Todd Ehlers and David Weber, pleads that the 60-day stay is necessary “to afford the Parties time to finalize issues arising from the Settlement Agreement involving other taxing jurisdictions.” Ehlers is the judge assigned to the 2015 case and Weber has the 2016 case.
The order also consolidates the two cases and places them under Ehlers’ jurisdiction.
What complicates the matter is the impact on the refund on the various taxing entities, which based their 2016 and 2017 budgets on the assumption that Dominion would be picking up approximately $6 million of the property tax levy each year. The company has agreed to allow a 10-year payback period to lessen the burden on each municipality or school district.
The stipulation indicates that Dominion and Carlton have agreed “to implement the refund requirements of Settlement Agreement in such a way as to minimize the impact of the refund requirement on those jurisdictions.”
The settlement with its 10-year chargeback plan still needs to be approved by Ehlers, presumably sometime this spring, and the state Department of Revenue must accept the plan as well.
A Feb. 7 motions hearing and a six-day trial scheduled to start Feb. 28 were removed from the Kewaunee County Circuit Court calendar.
The nuclear plant was taken offline in 2013 and has begun a 60-year decommissioning process.
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