Default judgment placed on Biomass

Published 8:58 am Thursday, October 9, 2014

SOUTH POINT — Acreage owned by a Kentucky business adjacent to The Point industrial park in South Point may be on the auction block shortly.

On Wednesday Magistrate D.L. McWhorter granted the state’s motion for a default judgment on Biomass for its failure to pay Lawrence County close to $50,000 in back taxes.

In November county treasurer Stephen Burcham was preparing to sell that acreage because of its failure to pay its taxes.

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In July a foreclosure hearing was scheduled when Mark Harris, owner of the Nicholasville, Kentucky company, contacted Burcham to say he had only received the notice that the taxes were due 10 days earlier.

At that time Burcham gave the company 90 days to come up with the then $45,078.63 owed to the county.

Biomass had purchased the property that had been the part of the site of the former Ashland Inc. ethanol operation. It is a development company that has a permit to build a 200-megawatt power plant that would produce electricity that Biomass would then sell to power companies. Harris said the taxes would be paid within the 90 days.

Biomass has 14 days to object to that order. That objection would go to the presiding judge and he would make a ruling.

If Harris does not object, it will be up to the judge to approve the order. Then a sale date would be set.

The company is delinquent on all the parcels it owns in South Point. The last payment posted was on one parcel on a payment plan for $1,735.55 on May 22, 2012. The next earlier time the company had made a payment was on another parcel for $1,563.04 in November 2011.

County economic development leaders have long wanted to see the acreage developed for businesses that would create jobs.

“Hopefully this can be a productive area where eventually it can be cleaned up and jobs can be created,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, said. “Hopefully we can get Ohio to help with the necessary cleanup.

Currently, Biomass owes $47,161.71 in back taxes and administrative fees from the county treasurer’s office. Of that figure 75 percent will go to the South Point and DD school districts, 9 percent will go to the county with the remainder going to Fayette and Perry townships and the village of South Point.

“This is a corporation that is failing to pay Lawrence County and as you can see from the allocation it hurts schools, townships and the county’s general fund,” Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said. “We feel everyone should pay their fair share and that helps governments on all levels to operate. Since the treasurer’s office and the prosecuting attorney’s office have been filing lawsuits to collect taxes, we have collected well over 100,000 in back taxes.”