Citrus County suffered a setback in its dispute with Duke Energy over the utility's 2012 property tax bill after a Circuit Court judge ruled a $1.5 billion asset could be calculated based on its "salvage" value.
Though the case is not completely resolved, the judge's recent decision means Citrus could lose as much as $10 million in tax money.
Citrus sent Duke a $34 million tax bill for 2012, of which the utility paid just $19 million and sued the county over the disputed amount. The action plunged the county school system into an economic crisis.
Duke argued that Citrus property appraiser Geoffrey Greene overvalued the pollution control system on its coal units and the broken nuclear plant at its Crystal River power station.
In his eight-page ruling on Nov. 8, Circuit Judge T. Michael Johnson wrote that Florida law states how pollution control systems should be valued and the county did not accurately assess Duke's property.
No final decision has been made on what Duke should pay for its 2012 taxes.
For 2013, Citrus delivered a $64 million tax bill to Duke, saying the utility failed to accurately and completely account for all of its assets in the county.
Duke has not responded to Citrus about the 2013 bill, but has told the Tampa Bay Times that it believes the county's latest assessment is inaccurate.
Ivan Penn can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2332.