Westmoreland pays nearly $5 million in taxes to Lincoln County

COURTESY PHOTO

At the Lincoln County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, County Treasurer Jerry Greenfield informed the commissioners that Westmoreland Coal Company had paid Lincoln County nearly $5 million in taxes.

“We’re feeling really good about that,” Greenfield said at the meeting. “I believe that Westmoreland is a company of their word. They paid us on time.”

Greenfield said Lincoln County received two checks from Westmoreland totaling $4,995,86. The payment covered Westmoreland’s ad valorem and mineral severance taxes to Lincoln County.

On Oct. 9, Westmoreland Coal Company filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. The company is currently in bankruptcy court in Houston, Texas.

“Those checks were really a pleasant surprise,” Greenfield told the Gazette. “Without that money, it could have been devastating for our special districts.”

Certain counties in Texas originally filed objections to Westmoreland’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan, stating that Texas’ tax structure requires Westmoreland to prioritize the payment of tax debts to those counties. Those objections were withdrawn on Nov. 13, citing an agreement had been reached between the debtors (Westmoreland) and the Texas counties. 

In a court document filed by Westmoreland Coal Company on Nov. 13, the company states that since the petition date for Chapter 11 relief, Westmoreland has made “significant progress in advancing these Chapter 11 cases to a value-maximizing conclusion.”

The document cites these advancements as the creation of a restructuring plan, a movement toward a “stalking horse” auction for certain Westmoreland assets (like the San Juan Mine in Colorado) and working with the United Mine Workers of America to address retiree benefits.

The next hearing for Westmoreland in bankruptcy court is on Thursday, Nov. 15. Westmoreland will submit a final order authorizing them to continue operating their cash management system and maintain certain business contracts.