Park County found itself in the short term of a recently settled lawsuit with Vanguard Natural Resources.
Although the county has earned nearly $ 357,000 in the settlement in the present, Vanguard will be allowed to waive the payment of its 2017 property taxes to the county and is allowed to use that money saved to pay all of its 1.2 million dollars in property taxes in 2020 with Park County, which it was about six months in arrears with. Park County will only receive about 52% of what it is owed.
“This is not a good result,” said Barb Poley, Park County Treasurer, at the County Commissioners meeting on Oct. 5.
That day, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept the terms of the settlement and the financial disbursements.
The Houston-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2017 after incurring $ 1.8 billion in debt. By the fall of 2017, he had wiped out a significant portion of that total and paid his 2016 business taxes in November.
Vanguard argued, even though the first half of 2017 in taxes were paid after the bankruptcy, that Park and six other Wyoming counties sued by the company had to have filed a “proof of claim” in bankruptcy court by July 2017. in order to have a right. to money.
In April 2019, Vanguard again filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, this time for $ 1.2 billion in debt.
From Vanguard, Grizzly Energy LLC emerged as a new company from this second bankruptcy in July 2019.
Park, Sweetwater, Natrona, Campbell, Johnson and Carbon counties were represented by Dallas law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. Poley said the county had to hire the foreign company to represent it in proceedings to facilitate hearings in the U.S. South District of Texas bankruptcy court hearing the case.
Johnson County received just over $ 230,000, or about a third of the taxes owed to the county by the company from 2016 to 2020.
Vanguard paid the first half of what it owed in 2017 taxes, but never paid the second half. From now on, the $ 879,873 he paid will be returned to him and the other half will be returned to him.
Under the settlement agreement, Vanguard is required to pay these funds or equal funds for its 2020 property taxes.
After attorney fees, Park County will be left with just $ 226,581 to distribute to tax districts.
The county’s 17 districts, which include entities such as Park County School District # 1 and Powell Fire, will owe the county a total of $ 130,328 for representing them in the lawsuit, a sum to be taken from the settlement money. .
Total disbursements will be determined by the number of tax mills they receive and other factors.
Commissioner Dossie Overfield asked Park County District Attorney Bryan Skoric if these entities had the option of being represented by the county. Skoric said the county was responsible for handling these situations and if the county had not taken legal action these entities would likely recover “very little.”
“It would have been impossible to get agreements between all these people,” he said. “We are responsible for doing it and we are where we are.”