Grayson County Commissioners decided they were in favor of joining a class action lawsuit aimed at recouping money the federal government should have paid the county in past years.
The lawsuit they agreed to join says the U.S. government underpaid some states and counties for payment in lieu of tax payments on federal land for which the county can’t collect taxes. Kane County in Utah filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to recover its own underpayments and a judge certified the case as a class action suit. There was nothing in the court’s agenda packet that said how much more the county thinks it should have been paid.
Assistant Grayson County District Attorney Craig Price told commissioners the county received a full payment for the payment in lieu of tax back in 2014 and it was $104,000. He said in 2015, the county got $11,000. In 2016, the county got $148,000, and 2017, the county got $151,000.
It costs the county nothing to take part in the lawsuit and the attorneys will be paid out of the judgment funds.
“If you do not opt in, you could file your own lawsuit or get nothing,” Price said.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers asked whether there was a downside to opting in and Price said there was not. Price said the judge in the case has already picked the attorneys so the county wouldn’t even have to do that. All it had to do is opt in and wait for the case to be completed.
“As far as we’re concerned, this is primarily (U.S.) Corps of Engineers property?” Commissioner Jeff Whitmire asked and Price confirmed it is.
Commissioner David Whitlock said the county would “be crazy not to (opt in)” to the suit and Whitmire seconded the decision. No one voted against it. Commissioners Bart Lawrence and Phyllis James were absent from the meeting Tuesday attending training sessions elsewhere.
Whitmire and Whitlock also approved renewal of the county’s property insurance with the Texas Association of Counties. The county insures $103,868,600 worth of property with the TAC and will see an $11,000 increase in premiums this year. The county will decrease the amount of insurance it carries to cover loss income from rents. Schneider said he only remembers that being used once in the more than 25 years that he has been with the county. The county will increase the amount of insurance it carries to cover storm damage. He said the county currently sees a 70 percent premiums-to-claims ratio with its property insurance.