Citrus County, school board to fund war chest after Duke Energy short-paid 2012 property tax payment

LECANTO, Fla. - The Citrus County Board of County Commissioners and the Citrus County School Board voted to build a war chest to fight Duke Energy's 2012 tax payment. 

Duke Energy, the parent company of Progress Energy, paid only $19 million of a $35 million tax bill.  They said the valuation of its properties in Citrus County is overstated.

"Our company has one view, while the property appraiser has another,"  said Progress Energy spokesman Rob Sumner in a written statement to ABC Action news. "We have worked to resolve our differences without success to date. After more than two years trying to resolve the issue amicably, Progress Energy Florida is filing a complaint regarding the overstated tax value - as is every taxpayer's right." 

Property Appraiser Geoff Greene stated Duke Energy is challenging the methodology his team used to create his assessment, specifically pollution-control equipment.  

Citrus County Sherrif Jeff Dawsy said the shortfall will affect everybody in the county.

"Duke Energy's decision to suddenly reduce its tax payment will directly impact the safety of Citrus County's citizens," said Dawsy in a release.  "Duke's actions will endanger our seniors, our precious children, our businesses - the entire community."

Citrus County School Board Chairwoman Virginia Bryant says the shortfall means about $8 million less for the district.

"We are naturally very concerned about the impact this will have on our students and teachers and staff," said Bryant in a written statement. " We have scheduled an emergency meeting so that we can gain a better understanding of the potential consequences of this action and the alternatives available to us."

Both Citrus County and the school board agreed to pay $175,000 each toward funding the legal expense and an appraisal of the energy complex in Citrus.

Along with the property appraiser's office, they want to make sure Duke Energy pays its fair share of property taxes.

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