Former oil recycler owes more than $2.5 million in back taxes

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By Travis Jenkins

It was touted as bringing jobs and a big financial investment to Chester County, but it has now ceased operations and rolled up a hefty tax bill.

In January of 2009, Southeastern Petroleum announced that it would build a facility on Beltline Road in Chester County on a tract of land to be purchased from the L&C Development Corporation. At the time of the announcement, which was welcome news at a time when the county’s unemployment rate was over 17 percent in the wake of textile mill closings, the company billed itself as green manufacturer of base oils. Essentially, the company recycled used petroleum products for use in lubricants. The company said it expected to produce up to 10 million gallons annually from its Chester County facility. Pesco-Beam, the majority stakeholder in Southeastern Petroleum, also said it was planning to create a research and development component at the location of the new facility. In total, Southeastern Petroleum was expected to create 24 jobs initially, with a total investment of $30 million.

As with most new industries, Southeastern Petroleum received a fee-in-lieu-of-tax deal in agreeing to build in Chester. At Monday’s meeting of Chester County Council, a discussion of the company, whose Chester facility has been closed for months according to County Supervisor Shane Stuart, was placed on the agenda in executive session. Upon returning from behind closed doors, County Attorney Joanie Winters provided the public with an update.

 “The property…was sold in a county tax sale for unpaid taxes on June 27, 2016 and the Chester County Forfeited Land Commission was the high bidder,” Winters said.

When taxes are defaulted on (or fee-in-lieu money, in this case), those owing the money have one year to redeem their property. So, if the company fails to pay the bill by June 27 of this year, the county will deed the property to the Forfeited Land Commission. Winters said the bill is a substantial one and is only going to get bigger between now and June 27.

“The taxes that are due are in the amount of $2,550,372 with additional penalties and interest to be added through to the date of redemption,” Winters said.

The council took no action on matter, receiving it only as information.