New law forgives penalties on ash spill land

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By Damon Lawrence

Roane County’s legislative delegation got a bill to pass the General Assembly during the recently completed session that will provide relief for delinquent property taxpayers because of the TVA ash spill, a disaster that occurred more than four years ago.

“This is a local bill for Roane County,” state Rep. Kent Calfee told his colleagues in the House. “We had the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston Steam (Fossil) Plant ash spill few years ago. This is to forgive the penalty and lower the interest rate on unpaid taxes.”

The bill applies only to interest and penalties imposed for the 2009 and 2010 tax years, and makes a lawsuit against TVA one of the requirements to be eligible.

State Sen. Ken Yager sponsored the bill in the Senate and Calfee sponsored it in the House.

Yager said the bill applies to delinquent taxpayers whose property was “impaired, damaged or devalued” because of the ash spill.
“It does not in anyway diminish or lower the taxes that are due on the property,” he told the Senate.

“It does, however, provide that the interest rate on delinquent taxes would be the same as the rate that one would pay if he were appealing his taxes to the state commission, and it also gives the property owner a break by abolishing the penalty for that,” he added.

The bill requires anyone applying for the relief to do so by Sept. 1.