By Lyra Bordelon
The Greenbrier County Commission dismissed an erroneous tax bill filed by the West Virginia Great Barrel Company, opened bids, and revised guidelines on courthouse entry during their Tuesday, April 27, meeting.
A misfiling from the Great Barrel company led to an over $150,000 tax bill for equipment it had purchased but not received in 2019. According to owner Tom Crabtree and attorney Norm Daniels, the Barrel company ordered needed equipment but had not yet received it by tax day. However, a clerical mistake in their accounting office led the equipment to being reported on the tax forms, out of step with the typical practice.
“In planning and building and doing all of the things over the last four years that led to this facility, I contacted the state tax office many times because we needed to estimate what our taxes would be,” explained Crabtree. “At no time did anyone ever answer the phone at the state tax office or return my phone calls. So we were flying blind, we had no idea. … I’m not trying to assign blame, I think our accountant made an error in reporting an asset on the tax form that we were not yet in possession of, even though, from an accrual/accounting standpoint, we owed that asset because we were in the process of buying those assets.”
Each commission highlighted that the Greenbrier County Tax Department filed and worked with the information that was given to them.
The commission approved dismissing the $152,824.13 tax bill, while acknowledging there had been several other opportunities to have the issue addressed before it came before the Commission, but acknowledged the mistake was honestly made.
“I want to make one thing clear for the benefit of the public,” McClung said. “This was self reported and an error was made. It was to the reporter’s financial detriment. In other words, the error was not to the benefit of the taxpayer. To me, that wipes out the idea of intentional negligence. If you wipe that out, our path is clear.”
While there, Crabtree also offered an update to the barrel company’s progress, stating it higher 15 people in the last week, totaling 70 at the plant and 45 at the sawmill that supplies it. The facility is producing “hundreds” of barrels a day for those it supplies.
“We appreciate all the County Commission has done,” Crabtree said. “The industrial access road that was built with the approval of the commission, the sewer line that was installed, the infrastructure that was prepared with the amazing support of the county. We appreciate that.”
In other business:
– The guidelines around entering the Greenbrier County Courthouse have been relaxed again since COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020. For more, see “insert the covid article* in this edition of the Mountain Messenger.
– The commission met in a special session on April 20. Tincher explained “the special meeting was to lay the levy … We did not raise the levy, it was to set the rate at the current rate of 12.93 percent.”
– The Arts and Recreation transfers were approved in a 2-1 vote, with Tincher voting against. They included $10,715 for the Greenbrier County Shotgun equipment, $6,300 for inspections for the Greenbrier County Sportsplex, and $15,771 for 2021 programming in local libraries.
– Bids to replace a Light Tower for the Greenbrier County Homeland Security team were opened, with one not qualifying and a low bid of $12,672.50 from Greenbrier Technologies. This was possible through a Homeland Security Grant.
– A Jeep used by the Greenbrier County Assessor’s Office was transferred to the Committee on Aging for use.