Editorial: Routt residents deserve to know details of tax settlement with energy company

Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): We were relieved last week to learn that Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn had reached an agreement with Peabody Energy to accept the $1.77 million the company owed in overdue taxes associated with its Twentymile coal mine.

The settlement, announced Monday, brings to a close nearly four months of waiting and uncertainty for 18 local taxing entities — including an entire school system, a rural medical center, a library and two rural fire protection districts — some of which rely heavily upon Peabody taxes to fund day-to-day operations.

With that in mind, we commend Horn for working diligently, and successfully, to negotiate payment terms with the energy giant.

At the same time, however, we’re frustrated by Horn’s unwillingness to release the particulars of the settlement.

Readers will recall that, in late July, Peabody was cleared by a federal bankruptcy judge to pay its overdue property taxes, but Horn, citing Colorado state law, refused to accept the payment. At the time, Horn said — and has since maintained — she was statutorily barred from accepting the payment, because the offer did not include the interest and fees that had accrued on the $1.77 million tax bill.

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