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.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5244 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

(10) comments

Miss Priss

They can't blame the last regime for this one. You will begin to see more and more of these issues arise from this county government. Stuff like this creates bad karma and one day this county's credit rating will be the worst it has ever been.

J. Shaffer

This is the new corporate America. The County Appraisal District raises everyone's taxes.... but private citizens have a hard time contesting those values.

Businesses have lots of money to hire lawyers and contest land values. Especially in the oil and gas industries, where every company posts billion dollar profits every three months.

The folks living around the plants in tiny houses end up paying the lion's share of the tax burden and the corporation is laughing all the way to the bank.

Or maybe I should be ashamed that the county is stiffing that poor, poor oil company.

Gary Miller

The people living in those little houses surounding the refinery are paying the refinery's property, school, state and federal taxes. The refinery addes it's taxes to prices. No business can pay any taxes without selling a product with taxes added into the selling price.

J. Shaffer

http://www.houstonpress.com/2013-04-18/news/hcad-shakedown/

Gary Miller

Civil service employees didn't do their jobs. The day by day conduct of county business is done by civil service employees who can't be replaced, demoted or disciplined when they screw up.
When conservatives won in Galveston county they inherited the old bureaucracy that couldn't be fired because of civil service regulations.
The civil service bureaucracy is still controlled by liberals who are glad to screw up if elected conservatives can be blamed.

I'd suggest the civil service department responcible for the screw up be identified and it's budget be cut by what their mistake cost the countys taxpayers.

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

Who told you that IHOG? GC employees are not Civil Service employees in the way you describe. They can absolutely be replaced, demoted, disciplined and fired. There is no collective bargaining with any group of employees at GC.

Raymond Lewis

IHOG, where on earth did you get the ridiculous notion that county employees are 'civil service' employees? Please enlighten this person at the least.

Dorothy Holt

This would not happen in the private sector. I am not surprised that this happened in our publicly funded county bureaucracy. After all, it is not their money so there is little follow up as Ms. Johnson is quoted as saying "The County dropped the ball..." Who pays your salary, Ms. Johnson? What department was supposed to make the payment in a timely manner? Was there not enough time on your daily agenda to follow up and make sure the department that was supposed to pay it actually did pay it? If an error of this magnitude had happened in the private sector Ms. Johnson or whoever is actually responsible would be fired. It would be nice if the GDN would find out who was responsible for this.

rah

Sounds like some heads need to roll. I am going to be paying for your mistake, I think mistakes like this need to come out of your paycheck

George Croix

They've got a lot of money, so it doesn't matter if they get stiffed on money coming to them?
I once had a fellow juror say to me that we should find for the Defendent because Fed Ex has a lot of money, despite the fact that the evidence clearly showed the Defendent was quite bald faced in her lying.
That is an example of a statement BY a character, not a statement that shows any character......

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