The town of Jay plans to file a motion Wednesday opposing a request made by paper mill owner Verso Corp. that three abatement requests the company has pending be moved to federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.

At stake is $11.4 million the company has asked for in tax refunds dating back to 2013.

The company, in the request filed March 30 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, argued that having the cases resolved in federal court will expedite its resolution and help the company with its bankruptcy proceedings.

The town plans to file a motion against the request and will argue to keep the abatement request proceedings in Maine, Jay Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said Tuesday. The deadline for the town to file its motion is Wednesday. LaFreniere said she did not have details of the arguments the town plans to present.

Verso is up to date on its taxes in Jay, where it owns the Androscoggin Mill. The mill initially was assessed at $637 million in 2015, but Verso argued that town officials overestimated its worth.

The town agreed to a partial abatement request last month, reassessing the mill at $424 million and agreeing to grant an abatement of $886,157, LaFreniere said. The appraisal does not take into consideration recent changes at the mill, including the shutdown of two paper machines, a reduction in workforce and the sale of four hydroelectric generators for $62 million.

The company is still seeking a tax refund of $4.4 million for 2015 after the town recalculated the amount of taxes due at a rate higher than what other taxpayers were asked to contribute, according to Verso. LaFreniere said the town does not agree with the assertion that the mill was taxed “at a discriminatory rate” and that it will be explained in Wednesday’s filing.

The company also disagrees with assessments in 2013 and 2014 and is asking for refunds of $3.7 million and $3.3 million for those years.

The Maine Board of Property Tax Review is scheduled to conduct a review of the mill’s value in June, but the decision could be appealed to the Maine Superior Court and Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which means a resolution could be delayed until as late as 2018 or 2019, according to Verso.

Resolving the disputes with Jay has a direct effect on the company’s plans to move forward with a restructuring plan and its cash balance moving forward, according to the motion the company filed. It has asked that the court hold a one-day hearing in June to determine the final outcome of the requested tax abatements.

Verso, which owns eight paper mills across the country, filed for bankruptcy in January, just a few months after it announced 310 layoffs at its Jay mill. Last week the company also announced it will be closing its Wickliffe, Kentucky, mill by July 1.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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