MOULTON — Members of a committee formed to weigh the impact of International Paper’s closing fear the immediate hit to county budgets may be worse than early predictions.

Schools Superintendent Heath Grimes said after a meeting Tuesday the numbers taken from the revenue commissioner’s office show that if all personal property is removed from the plant by October 2015, Lawrence County could lose an estimated $1.7 million payment in lieu of taxes.

“This does appear to be much worse than we originally thought,” committee chairman Bobby Burch said.

The county’s general fund could lose as much as $400,000, while the school system could lose about $900,000. Budgets could be affected as early as fiscal 2016, Grimes said.

Committee members emphasize the personal property figures are highly variable and do not represent the total reverberation from the Courtland Mill’s closure, which is expected in the first quarter of 2014. The move will eliminate about 1,100 jobs at the plant.

“We know it’s an impact. We just don’t know when and how much,” Grimes said.

Additionally, the city of Courtland receives about $771,000 annually in tax revenue from International Paper.

Committee members also discussed the the company’s bond issue, which is managed by the Courtland Industrial Development Board. The board agreed Monday to work with the post-closure committee to evaluate the bond issue, Courtland Mayor Clarence Logston said.

Logston said the original bond was created in 1968, but several more exist. Neither Logston nor other committee members know the total bond amount. The board agreed to contact their attorney, Gene Lentz, to discuss the bond issue.

“We need to know what terms they’re going to execute under,” committee member Larkin Martin said.

Committee members also delegated various tasks, including asking state and federal representatives for financial assistance and touring the Courtland mill to assess the site’s potential.

The meeting was also attended by Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey’s deputy chief of staff, Taylor Nichols, and Kreg Kennedy, a representative of U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, who represents the county.

Tax consequences

Annual personal property taxes that Lawrence County may lose from International Paper closing:

General fund: $414,572

Road and bridges: $148,061

Hospital: $236,898

Schools: $937,152


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