CROWN POINT | BP's Whiting Refinery is set to pay Lake County government $915,000 in a proposed settlement of a long-running property tax dispute.
Lake County Attorney John Dull said Tuesday the deal ends the county's effort to collect years of back taxes through its challenge to exemptions the state granted the global energy giant.
Lake County Assessor Hank Adams said the benefits of settling now outweighed the risks of taking the dispute to a judge, losing and getting nothing in return.
"It's good for BP, and it's good for the county, or I wouldn't have signed off on it," Adams said.
The county's five-member Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals will vote on the matter later this month, but Adams said that is a formality since three of the five also signed the agreement.
The tax dispute centers on whether BP should have been allowed to reduce the amount of property taxes it paid the county between 2004 and 2008 through exemptions the state permits for air pollution equipment that BP was required to buy and install at its 1,400-acre facility.
Adams said the county already had spent $915,000 in attorney and consultant fees to research the issue and could have spent another $400,000 to take the matter to trial.
Adams said the settlement involves two major pieces of pollution equipment. He said the county won't seek any future appeal on those two pieces for the next three years but is free to challenge any tax exemptions claims on other pollution control machinery.