By Jeanne LeFlore
McALESTER — Pittsburg County Commissioners met Wednesday in a closed executive session meeting and rejected a settlement offer from Kiowa Power Partners. More than a half-million county tax dollars have been spent and millions more are held in an escrow account while the lawsuit involving Kiowa Power Partners LLC vs. Jim Kelley, Pittsburg County Assessor and the Pittsburg County Board Equalization waits to be played out in court on Monday.
According to District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith it’s up to the county’s attorneys to make a counter offer.
“We rejected their offer,” said Pittsburg County Commission Chairman Gene Rogers.
Rogers said most utility companies oppose the assessed tax rates. “They always protest (the tax rates)” he said. “Its just normal for this kind of negotiation.” Rogers said. “They protested the taxes we assessed.”
Regarding the growing cost of the ongoing lawsuit Rogers said “It will be worth it all if they just give us what the property is worth,” said Rogers.
The suit was filed 2009 after a five-year manufactures exemption granted by the Ad Valorem Division of the Oklahoma Tax Commission expired in 2008 and has cost the county more than $616,338,000 in attorney’s fees.
Sitting in the negotiations were Pittsburg County Commissioners Rogers, Kevin Smith, Ronnie Young; James Shropshire and Sherman Stockton of the Pittsburg County Board of Equalization; Former Pittsburg County Assessor Jim Kelley, current assessor Cathy Haynes and District 18 Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull.
The commissioners voted unanimously to reject the offer. The amount of the offer was not disclosed in the public session.
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