TEXAS CITY — The county will have to pay a $130,000 penalty for missing a payment on the $1.2 million property tax refund it owes Valero, Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl Johnson said Friday.
“The county dropped the ball and ended up costing the taxpayers $130,000,” Johnson said.
In February, the oil company filed a lawsuit and successfully argued that appraisers had in 2011 overvalued its Texas City refinery. A district court ruled that the city, school district, county and College of the Mainland would have to repay Valero about $4.8 million.
A jury in Judge Lonnie Cox’s 56th District Court lowered Valero’s assessed value by $189.4 million for the 2011 tax year — from $526.8 million to $333.4 million — but because the company had already paid its property taxes, the county and other local governments were required to cough up a refund.
Johnson said the city, college and school district had made their payments. The county missed its payment and now owes an additional $134,920 in interest, she said.
After losing the lawsuit to Valero, the county began officially calculating what it owed the oil company on April 30. Johnson said she wasn’t sure how the county missed its payment but said that someone had made a wasteful mistake.
“Somebody dropped the ball when it left my office,” she said.
Valero spokesman Bill Day said Friday he was not aware of the missed payment, adding that the company had a “great, productive relationship” with the county.
County Commissioner Kevin O’Brien said he could not confirm that the county owed an additional $130,000 in interest. He said the county’s lawyers were looking into it.
Commissioners are set to meet Tuesday, and the agenda calls for commissioners to consider a budget amendment that would transfer money to refund Valero.