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Company offers deal to settle back-tax suit

June 27, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Representatives of the Spectratech plant in Middleway, W.Va., sought support from the Jefferson County Commission Thursday of a settlement proposal that stems from a suit filed against the former owner of the plant for nonpayment of taxes.

Spectratech is offering to settle the case for about $350,000, which is about double what the company currently pays in annual property taxes, the company's attorney said.

The lawsuit, which Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober filed against Imation Enterprises Corp., involves an assessment of the company's personal property conducted in July 1998, court records said.

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The plant, where plates for the printing industry are made, was sold to Spectratech in March 1999.

The taxes Imation originally owed were $530,111, according to a suit that Boober filed against the company in Jefferson County Circuit Court last year.

Because the tax bill carries a 9 percent interest rate, the tax bill had risen to $653,372 when the lawsuit was filed Aug. 12, according to the suit.

The tax bill now has risen to a little more than $700,000, said Martinsburg, W.Va., attorney Michael Caryl, who is representing Spectratech.

Last year, an Imation attorney wrote Boober a letter saying she believed the taxes were Spectratech's responsibility.

Spectratech officials have said they are not responsible for the taxes because they relate to assessments of property conducted while Imation owned the plant.

Caryl and two Spectratech officials want the commissioners to ask Boober to consider their settlement proposal.

Spectratech officials approached the commission Thursday because the companies decided Spectratech would take the lead in the case, Caryl said. Spectratech and Imation will share in paying the settlement if it is accepted, Caryl said.

Commissioners Greg Corliss and Rusty Morgan were sympathetic to Spectratech.

"The jobs are very important to us," Corliss said.

The plant's work force has grown from about 28 to 60 employees since Spectratech took over.

Commission President Jane Tabb said she was concerned about taking any action, especially since the case is pending.

The case was set for trial next month, but it has been postponed to give the parties in the case a change to reach a settlement, Caryl said.

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