Lehigh Cement lost its lawsuit against the city of Providence, R.I., that alleged the company was overtaxed for land it neither leased nor owned, reported the Providence Journal.
The cement producer, which leases 3.65 acres in the city-owned ProvPort facility, sued the Providence tax assessor in 2012 arguing that city officials improperly taxed it on 16.8 acres for three years, then after acknowledging the problem, dragged their feet on compensating the company. Lehigh paid $500,000 more than it should have in the 2006 to 2009 bills, according to court documents.
But a Superior Court judge ruled against Lehigh and, on appeal, the state high court agreed, writing that while talking with the city about compensation, Lehigh had allowed the statute of limitations to expire.
“Although most persons accept the necessity of paying taxes, no one relishes paying more than his or her fair share, much less paying taxes for which he or she has been erroneously assessed,” Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell wrote in the decision. “Such is the situation in which the plaintiff, Lehigh Cement Co. ... finds itself.”
Although the city won the case, the details of how it dealt with a longtime taxpayer do not paint a business-friendly portrait. According to the ruling, Lehigh representatives spoke with city officials numerous times between 2010 and 2012 about the tax bill and each time were told that the assessor’s office was working on the problem and would credit the company.
Lehigh has leased land in ProvPort since 2002.