Judge Rules in Favor of York County on Western Refining Lawsuit

WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

York-Poquoson Courthouse
York-Poquoson Courthouse

After a four-day trial, the former owners of the Yorktown Refinery lost a case that would have cost county taxpayers around $10 million.

Western Refining Yorktown Inc. ceased operating the refinery in 2010 and sold it in 2011 to subsidiaries of Plains All American Pipeline L.P. and York County’s Commissioner of the Revenue Ann Thomas estimated the property’s machinery and tools to be worth $96.14 million in 2010 and $99.1 million in 2011.

Western Refining objected to the county’s findings in December 2012 and appealed it to the York-Poquoson Circuit Court, saying the assessments were based off the original price of the equipment, which failed to take into account the fair market value for used equipment.

The company was asking the county to correct the assessments of the machinery and tools on site, exonerate Western Refining from having to pay the extra amount of money between the correct assessment and the county assessment, and have the county refund the $6.5 million with 10 percent interest.

County Attorney Jim Barnett said Tuesday the total amount the county would have been required to repay had the judge ruled in Western Refinery’s favor was around $10 million once the 10 percent interest rate was included with the taxes.

On June 11, substitute Circuit Court Judge John Clarkson denied Western Refining’s request for a refund, which Barnett said was a “satisfactory result.”

“After four days, the judge declared that he thought that the county’s assessments, methodology and its amounts were both satisfactory, that the commissioner of the revenue had followed the proper procedure, and awarded full judgment in favor of the county,” Barnett said.

Although the order has yet to be entered by Carson, Western Refining has 30 days to appeal the decision.

“We’re in as good a position as we can be in right now,” Barnett said. “Whether or not an appeal goes forward, it’s obviously better to be the winner in the trial than the loser.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Shepperd commended Barnett and his legal team Tuesday at the board’s meeting.

“A lot of folks don’t realize that was not an insignificant amount of money that we would have had to pay if the court had ruled against us,” he said.

Related Coverage: