Verso tax value cut by 61 percent

Agreement with Breitung will cost taxing bodies thousands in revenue

AN AERIAL VIEW of the Verso Corp. paper mill in Quinnesec. Verso and Breitung Township have agreed to reduce the taxable value for Verso’s two parcels in Quinnesec by about $17 million, or by 61 percent.

QUINNESEC — Local tax collecting entities will lose thousands of dollars in revenue in 2016 and 2017 after Breitung Township and Verso Corp. recently agreed to cut the taxable value of two parcels at Verso’s Quinnesec paper mill by more than half.

Total taxable value will drop about $17 million in each year instead of the $21 million per year reduction that could have been ordered if Verso had won its Michigan Tax Tribunal cases, according to documents from the tax tribunal’s website.

The township’s Board of Review had set the 2016 taxable value of one parcel at $28 million and the other at $117,351. The township’s settlement with Verso now sets those values at $10.9 million and $100,000, respectively, for a combined drop of 61 percent.

For 2017, values will decrease from $28.3 million to $10.9 million on one parcel and from $118,407 to $100,000 on the other.

Verso initially requested the tax tribunal reduce the taxable value in each year to $7 million on one parcel and $25,000 on the other.

“The township and Verso are pleased to have reached this agreement as part of a mutual effort to balance the long-term viability of the Quinnesec mill and preservation of the local tax base, which were the important goals of both parties,” representatives from the township and Verso said in a joint statement Monday. “This agreement is intended to help both parties achieve sustainable operations over the coming years as the paper industry continues to evolve.”

But entities such as the township, Dickinson County, Breitung Township Schools and others will take a financial hit from the agreement, according to numbers from the Dickinson County Equalization Department.

Entities will have to refund Verso for any extra taxes already paid and will collect less moving forward.

Tax revenue losses for 2016 are: $72,246 to the township; $105,621 to the county; $309,624 to the Breitung Township School District operating fund; $82,222 to the school’s debt fund; $45,281 to the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District; $17,201 to Bay College; $15,481 to the Dickinson County Library; $8,601 to the Dickinson County Road Commission; $7,225 to the Dickinson-Iron Health Department; $6,881 to each senior citizens’ centers and the Dickinson County Enhanced 911; and $103,208 to the state education fund.

Losses for 2017 are similar at $73,312 to the township; $107,180 to the county; $314,193 to the school’s operating fund; $69,821 to the school’s debt fund; $45,949 to the ISD; $17,455 to Bay College; $15,710 to the library; $8,728 to the road commission; $7,331 to the health department; $6,982 to each the senior centers and enhanced 911; $1,746 to the Dickinson County Veterans’ Service Office; and $104,731 to the state education fund.

This isn’t the first time Verso has petitioned the tax tribunal to reduce taxable value on the two properties.

The company and the township in 2015 agreed to decrease one parcel from $48 million to $28 million and the other from $189,000 to $117,000.

Verso, as well as any other taxpayer, may contest their property values at the tax tribunal each year, even if they received reductions in previous years.