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County, INVISTA tax issue to be settled soon

Posted: November 24, 2010 2:50 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2010 5:00 a.m.

A several-years-long dispute between Kershaw County and INVISTA over “who owes who what” in tax money could be settled through arbitration in the coming months, County Administrator Clay Young said Wednesday.

Young, Kershaw County Council, and County Attorney Ken DuBose entered into executive session during Tuesday night’s council meeting  to discuss the matter.

While no official action was taken, and a final ruling hasn’t been established, Vice Chairman Sammie Tucker Jr. said he hopes to have a resolution before or shortly after the New Year.

“My hope is that we get out of arbitration with minimum damage,” Tucker said, adding that it’s likely the county will have to pay something.

Councilman Stephen Smoak, who sits on council’s finance committee with Tucker, said the county has been financially planning for a settlement.

“We’ve known,” said Smoak, “that we are probably going to have to pay something, it has just been a matter of when.”

The issue revolves around whether Kershaw County overvalued certain taxes for INVISTA, such as equipment, in several years’ worth of tax assessments, according to Smoak.

INVISTA is a global producer of commodity and specialty polyester fibers, polymers and intermediates. According to the Kershaw County economic development website, INVISTA  is the county’s largest private sector employer and taxpayer.

Young said the amount in question is approximately $2.5 million from the 2005, 2006 and 2007 tax years. The county will owe 35 percent of the final settlement, and the school district the remaining 65 percent, Young said.

Both bodies -- the county and the school district -- have seen their budgets dramatically reduced in the past two years.

In talks for the case are officials from Kershaw County, INVISTA, the state and Kershaw County School District.

In other business:

• Beginning Sunday, Kershaw County retails stores can open their doors at any hour on Sundays. County council unanimously approved lifting restrictions on Sunday store hours during Tuesday’s meeting.

• Council also unanimously approved third reading of a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with TB Kawashima. The incentive agreement comes after Kawashima, which employs more than 100 people at its Lugoff facility, announced a $9 million expansion earlier this year. That expansion is estimated to generate 50 new jobs in the coming years.

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