April 20, 2010 - Polk County and American Crystal Sugar Company have reached a settlement regarding their longstanding dispute over the property tax valuation of the Company's factories in East Grand Forks and Crookston, Minn. The agreement was reached by both parties earlier this month and ratified today by the Polk County Board of Commissioners.
The terms of the settlement cover property valuations for taxes payable in years 2005 - 2015. The settlement involves no additional payment or refund of property taxes for the years 2005-2010 and establishes an assessed value of $44 million for 2011, declining as a result of depreciation to $40 million in 2015.
This agreement involved compromises by both parties. Speaking on behalf of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, chairperson Warren Strandell, stated, "It was time for this issue to be put to bed. Both American Crystal and Polk County proved that they wanted that to occur when they exchanged proposals during a successful mediation session in Minneapolis earlier this month. The agreement reached between the negotiating parties then - and now formally approved by the Polk County Board - marks the end to an expensive legal process and paves the way for a good relationship long into the future."
"Any time two parties resolve a long standing dispute, each side needs to make some compromises. We are grateful that we and the county were able to find a resolution, and we appreciate their willingness to find middle ground," said David Berg, president and chief executive officer of American Crystal. "We are pleased to put this issue behind us, and we look forward to focusing on the future as American Crystal operates factories in the county's two largest communities."
In August of 2009, the Minnesota Tax Court determined a taxable valuation of $56 million for American Crystal's East Grand Forks and Crookston factories. The original taxable valuation of the properties in 2005 was $19 million. The settlement, while a discount to the Tax Court decision, represents a significant increase in valuation from that which was in place in 2005 and eliminates the uncertainty and cost associated with a potentially lengthy appeals process.
American Crystal has reached property tax settlements for its facilities in Richland County, Montana; Pembina County, North Dakota; and Traill County, North Dakota. Valuation of the Company's factory in Moorhead is still being contested in a separate action involving Clay County, Minnesota.
Polk County Attorney
Public Relations Manager