Taxing Situation for Pemiscot County

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO - A recent state audit puts Pemiscot County more than $700,000 in the red.  Here's the tricky part.  There's plenty of money in the bank account, but no one can touch the cash because of a legal dispute.

After one court battle some of the money was paid, but Pemiscot County officials say they're still owed a big jackpot from both the past and present owners of Isle of Capri casino in Caruthersville, which has paid taxes, but reportedly under protest.

Ask most anyone around and they'll tell you paying taxes is just part of life.  But when it comes to collecting and using tax money from the casino, it seems as if luck ran the tune of nearly $1 million.

"It's frustrating, because the school system is in a situation after the tornado.  They need the money, and of course the county too is in a financial bind as well," said County Collector Keith Jean.  Jean says the past and present casino owners did pay up, but because it happened under protest, no one can touch the money until the dispute is resolved.  "We'd just like to see it settled one way or another.  We don't understand why two years was settled and the remainder was not," said Jean.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled the casino had to pay up.  It did, but just for 1999 and 2000.  It still protests paying the past six years.

As for the former Casino Aztar and current Isle of Capri...they maintain they were taxed too much to begin with because the property valuation figure was too high, and that's why they're fighting the payment.

(Our Raycom sister station KFVS contributed to this report.)