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Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative and Renville Co., Minn., reach agreement ending years of tax litigation

RENVILLE -- A settlement has been reached ending years of litigation between Renville County and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative over the property taxes paid by the sugar processing company, the two sides announced.

The agreement reached Monday calls for the dismissal of all claims. It also sets an assessed value of $41 million on the company's property for taxing purposes through 2017.

Under the agreement, no additional taxes will be owed by the cooperative to Renville County and no tax refunds will be due from the county to the cooperative.

Litigation between the two sides dates to 2005.

The two sides had differed greatly in how the property should be assessed. The company had originally sought to have its assessed value reduced to $8.5 million. Had the company prevailed in court, there was the possibility that the taxing entities, including the county and the Renville County West school district, would have to refund taxes that had already been collected and the funds spent.

The litigation involved cases that reached the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. There were pending cases in district court scheduled for litigation in the months ahead.

In statements issued to announce the settlement, John Stahl, chair of the Renville County board of commissioners, and Kelvin Thompsen, president and CEO of the cooperative, emphasized that they want to put the dispute behind them and look forward to working together in the future.

The cooperative is the county's largest employer and its annual property tax payments to all entities totaled over $500,000 a year, according to payable 2010 tax figures.