Originally created 05/24/05

AGY owes county back taxes



AIKEN - AGY Holding Corp., formerly known as Advanced Glassfiber Yarns LLC, owes $2.6 million in back taxes to Aiken County, records show.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December 2002 and re-emerged in April 2004, has challenged at least a portion of its appraised value and is negotiating a settlement, County Administrator Clay Killian said Monday.

"That's part of the debate right now," he said.

The company's tax bill is two-pronged. It pays property taxes on property worth $28.3 million and a fee in lieu of taxes on separate investments that were made after 1995, according to records and officials.

In 2002, the company didn't pay its $795,000 property tax bill or its $574,500 fee, records show. It made good in 2003 but again didn't make payments in 2004, when it owed $731,000 in property taxes and a $477,700 fee.

Catherine Cuisson, the chief financial officer for AGY, said the company was privately held and would not discuss details.

"We are in negotiations with the county, so I cannot tell you anything," she said.

The county has been forced to absorb the company's unpaid debt and will have to do so again in next year's budget, which the county council is drafting. The county raised taxes slightly in 2003, but Mr. Killian said that was the result of a number of factors and not AGY's unpaid bill.

The fiberglass production facility on Wagener Road, just outside the city of Aiken, was formerly owned by the Owens Corning Co. It was bought in 1998 by French-based Groupe Porcher Industries, which paid $550 million in cash for 51 percent interest in Owens Corning's Aiken plant and its plant in Huntington, Pa.

Both companies have invested heavily in the plant. As part of a 1995 agreement with the county, Owens Corning said it would invest at least $45 million by 2001. In return, it qualified to pay taxes on the upgrades based on a reduced millage over a 20-year period.

Owens Corning and subsequent owners of the fiberglass plant exceeded the minimum and had spent $71 million through 2001, according to state Department of Revenue records provided by the county. The appraised value of the investment through 2004 was $75.8 million.

Typically, owners must forfeit their property if they don't pay taxes, but AGY is currently exempt because it filed bankruptcy.

Mr. Killian said the county only wanted the company to pay its "fair share."

"They've been a good corporate neighbor," he said. "We want to solve this and get it behind us."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.