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Bridgestone won't get tax refund

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Newton County will not refund more than $100,000 in taxes to Bridgestone Sports USA.

"The Board of Commissioners has one year to approve a refund request. Since the refund was not approved within a year, that served as a denial of the refund request," said Jenny Carter with the County Attorney's Office. Bridgestone has a year to appeal the decision, she said.

Legal counsel for Bridgestone would not comment for this story.

Bridgestone had filed a claim for refund on personal property taxes for tax years 2006 and 2007 totaling $108,419.07.

According to Tax Commissioner Barbara Dingler and Chief Appraiser Tommy Knight, Bridgestone incorrectly valued its equipment on tax returns, placing it in a classification higher than it should have been. The returns were sworn and signed by Bridgestone's treasurer. The Tax Assessors Office accepted those values and Bridgestone was billed accordingly.

The county later received a letter from Pamela Studdard of Studdard, Glisson and Smith Inc., acting as agent on behalf of Bridgestone, reporting the error and requesting a correction.

"We must recommend a new assessment regardless of whose error (it is). It's up to the Board of Commissioners to determine if a refund is valid. This is money that was collected, spent and distributed for those fiscal years and the governing authority says yea or nay on if we give the money back or not," Dingler said.

A little more than $23,000 of the refund requested was for taxes paid to the city of Covington. The City Council agreed in October to give Bridgestone a full refund.

At the time, Councilman Mike Whatley said it's in the city's best interest to keep a good relationship with the company.

"Anybody we've got, we need to keep and keep in good standing with them," he said.