Justice companies shoot past deadline on property taxes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Businesses owned by Gov. Jim Justice and his family have been way overdue on hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes.

Greenbrier Hotel Corp. paid up its property taxes onp Monday. The resort had $1.5 million overdue for the first half and second half of the year.

Greenbrier Golf & Tennis paid its full-year tax bills on Monday. It had $245,104 due.

Greenbrier Medical and Greenbrier Medical Institute owed $135,853.91. They also paid Monday.

Full payments had been due April 1. The status of each tax obligation was available through Greenbrier County’s online tax portal.

“It always concerns you when that big of an entity is late,” said Greenbrier County Commissioner Lowell Rose. “They haven’t missed paying us any years yet. But it’s always right up against the deadline.”

The situation is similar in nearby Raleigh County.

Justice Holdings, which includes the Glade Springs Resort, is listed as overdue on taxes on 432 separate properties. That’s according to Raleigh County’s online tax portal. 

Those too have missed deadline for tax collections for the first half and second half of the year.

Most of the Justice Holdings property tax amounts are relatively small. The largest is an annual total of $56,965.08.

The total amount due for all the Justice Holdings properties is $167,766.52.

That’s money that counties and school systems count on to meet their own expenses.

“It would be a hardship on the county if it wasn’t paid,” Rose said.

Greenbrier County Commissioner Michael McClung noted that a relatively small slice of property taxes goes to the county. But he acknowledged that property taxes are very significant to school systems.

“Yes, delinquent taxes do have an effect but it’s not as immediate and amplified as you might think,” McClung said. “Of course the situation with the schools is a little bit different because the schools get about two thirds of those property taxes.”

Greenbrier County Sheriff Bruce Sloan was keeping an eye on the overdue taxes because the amount was so significant. But he said nothing out of the ordinary was done to collect.

“They knew they were due. It wasn’t like they had to be reminded,” Sloan said Tuesday afternoon. “They did come in yesterday afternoon and paid those.”

Like other counties, Raleigh and Greenbrier have had overdue property taxes printed in newspaper listings during the past few weeks.

The long list of Justice Holdings appeared in Beckley’s Register-Herald on Tuesday.

Then then-overdue property taxes from Greenbrier County appeared in print late last month.

The finances of Justice’s companies have been in the spotlight much of the spring, with officials trying to collect judgments in court systems at the local and federal level.

That has been a political issue as well, with the governor’s critics pointing toward the unpaid liabilities.

On Monday, Justice’s coal companies made headlines in Kentucky for the payment of $1.2 million in overdue property taxes. The companies pledged to pay an equivalent amount over the next six months.

“This is a really positive thing,” Justice’s son, Jay, told the Herald-Leader newspaper. “We all know these counties desperately need these dollars.”

Governor Justice, in response to reporters’ questions on Monday afternoon, said he wants to continue to make good on his companies’ liabilities, including overdue taxes.

“Our businesses are doing better right now than they have done for the last probably six years, way better,” Justice said.

He noted that The Greenbrier and its associated properties continue to be affected by a claim against insurers accused of slow walking payments after the 2016 flood. That case was thrown out of federal court last week because the insurers hadn’t been officially informed of a lawsuit, but negotiations have been ongoing.

He said “that is really impairing The Greenbrier. That’s all there is to it.”

Commissioner Rose of Greenbrier County was relieved the property tax payments came in. He’s sensitive to The Greenbrier’s situation. Not only is it a big taxpayer, but it’s also major employer for the county.

“Better late than never. It’s been a little rocky road between the commissioners and the governor, but we’ve always gotten paid,” he said.

“We’re glad that everything keeps going for the hotel. They are our biggest employer and the biggest taxpayer we’ve got. We want to keep them healthy.”

Justice said people shouldn’t worry so much about the finances of his companies.

“At the end of the day I would say to you one thing, don’t worry about my stuff,” Justice said. “Don’t worry about my businesses. Don’t worry about a thing in the world except this state. That’s what you should be focused on is this state. Because things are going to be fine in my business world.”

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