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Duke Energy late on taxes

Company seeks interest waiver; officials say no

DIXON – Duke Energy is asking Lee County to waive interest charges on more than $350,000 the company owes in late property taxes.

County officials say they won’t do it.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based energy giant, which has a Dixon plant, owes $359,000 in late taxes, plus $10,663 in interest, according to records from the treasurer’s office. That amounts to the second installment of this year’s taxes, which were due Sept. 7.

County Treasurer John Fritts said the company would need to get the County Board’s approval for a waiver. He said that during his 17 years as treasurer, the board had given a waiver just once – to a church years ago.

Fritts brought up the request for the waiver Tuesday during the monthly meeting of the County Board’s Administrative Services Committee.

The committee’s chairman, John Ferrone, R-Dixon, had a quick answer, “They don’t get one,” and a recommendation, “Keep on tacking the interest.”

During the meeting, County Board Chairman Jim Seeberg R-Ashton, got a call from a representative of Duke Energy to ask for the waiver. He told her no.

“I’d say no to anyone,” he said. “We’re not going to do it.”

Duke Energy spokesman Jason Walls said the lack of payment was an oversight, “plain and simple.”

“They will have this payment tomorrow,” Walls said Tuesday afternoon.

That payment will include interest, he said.

County officials said the company had mentioned storms as a reason for the lateness.

In its second-quarter financial report, Duke Energy noted that its higher financial results were offset by less favorable weather, among other reasons.

Duke, which is the second largest electric power holding company in the United States, has had a power plant in Dixon since 2001. It consists of eight 80-megawatt natural gas-fired combustion turbines.

Duke was one of 1,912 property taxpayers that received delinquent notices, Fritts reported. That’s out of about 30,000 parcels in Lee County.

Fritts said that’s the highest number of delinquent taxpayers during his 17 years as treasurer. He said the number usually is between 1,200 and 1,400.

“The economy is getting worse,” he said.

The county’s sale of tax-delinquent properties will be Oct. 30.

Whiteside County’s sale will be Nov. 8. The county sent out 1,879 delinquent notices involving 35,090 parcels. That number is on track with previous years, Treasurer Darlene Hook said.

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