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Louisiana R-II school district could lose tax funds from disputes

Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 4:34 pm

The Louisiana RII School District could lose at least $45,000 if a lawsuit and an assessment of a moved business go against board district wishes.
And that might just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg, according to district Superintendent Dr. Richard Basden and Pike County Assessor Donna Prior.
Prior told the school board at the Monday, July 21 meeting that  Ameren Missouri seeks to decrease its 2013 assessment with a lawsuit in 19 counties, including Pike County.
“This is just the natural gas part,” in the Ameren appeal, Prior said. If the district loses the pending, case, Ameren is likely to try and reduce its taxes on electrical equipment and property, she added. She also expects the utility to protest its 2014 gas assessment.
If Ameren wins, “It will cost us a teacher’s salary,” Basden said. The fear is that if Ameren’s suit is successful, other firms with a stake in Pike County will try to get their property taxes as well, he added.
Ameren’s suit says Prior’s assessment of almost $1.84 million in Ameren gas property and equipment was almost $1.1 million more than its assessment of its own property. Ameren assessed its holdings at almost $762,000.
Prior said the court battle will cost the counties almost $26,000 and asked the school board for more than $10,000 in legal cost help. The district portion is based on the high amount of Ameren land and equipment in the Louisiana area, Prior said.
The board decided to bring the matter up at the Monday, Aug. 18 meeting so that absent members Melissa Corbin, Wes Patton and Josh DePriest could vote on it. Present July 21 were Chairman Rob Lumley, Pam Todd-Watts, Daryle Wallace and Lori Helkey.

In addition, a previously  disputed assessment of old Hercules property could cost the district an undetermined amount, but that situation could be rectified, Prior said.
Hercules paid the district about $27,000 in property taxes for 2013, Basden said. Prior was told Hercules only had two trucks left on its property when the assessment deadline occurred January 1, she said.
A later contact revealed the firm had a lot more equipment on site than previously believed, Prior added. Hercules is compiling a new list to send to Prior, who will assess it and place it on the tax roles.