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Campbell County Receives Millions Less Than Owed In Alpha Settlement

Deputy County Attorney Carol Seeger speaking in front of the Campbell County Commissions on the Alpha Bankruptcy
Campbell County

Earlier this month, Campbell County and Alpha Natural Resources have reached a settlement after a lengthy case over unpaid taxes. Alpha is one of the three major coal companies that went bankrupt between 2015 and 2016.

At the time of the settlement, the company owed over $11 million in unpaid ad valorem taxes to the county. The final agreement awarded Campbell County $7 million – $4 million less than what was owed.

Ad valorem taxes are essentially mineral property taxes, which pay for the state school system, county services, hospitals, and local salaries.

Mark Christensen, chairman of the Campbell County Commissioners, said Alpha used every possible loophole to avoid the tax payments. He added the settlement is not a win, but the best possible solution.

“Even though, principally, we can't let anyone not pay their taxes, we have to go 'yes, we’re going to have to let someone off, to get some portion of what it is,’” Christensen said.

Christensen added the amount lost was actually more than $4 million if you consider legal fees and unpaid interest. Campbell County spent nearly a million dollars in legal fees to fight Alpha over the unpaid taxes.

Mark Christensen said the county is still facing about $15 million in unpaid mineral property taxes from other companies. Alpha did not respond for comment.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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