Thursday, March 6, 2014
Berkeley County has seized equipment owned by a now-shuttered manufacturer in Moncks Corner in an unprecedented move to recover debt incurred by its fee-in-lieu of tax.
American LaFrance abruptly closed its Moncks Corner location and two other locations Jan. 17, leaving behind nearly $650,000 in debt to the county. The county set a deadline of Feb. 13 for the debt to be paid.
According to County Supervisor Dan Davis, now that the deadline has passed, the county has seized control of the rescue vehicle manufacturer’s equipment.
“It is all secured and in the county’s possession,” Davis said during last week’s regular meeting of council in Moncks Corner.
The equipment will be auctioned off in the coming months so the county can recover its debt. Any remainder over the amount owed will be returned to the company, according to county Deputy Supervisor Kace Smith.
“This is something we’ve never gone through,” Smith said in a telephone interview on Feb. 26. “I doubt if you can find another county who has gone through this … this is kind of new territory to us.”
Due to the unprecedented nature of the auction, the county will not speed through the process, Smith said.
“We’re not going to rush through it … (but) we don’t want it to drag on,” Smith said.
She said the auction could come as soon as spring. While the deadline has passed, the company could still pay its debt at any time prior to the auction to recoup its equipment, Smith said.
The company moved in August from its 450,000-square-foot Summerville facility to a 103,000-square-foot building at 164 Spring Grove Road, off Cypress Gardens Road in Moncks Corner. The Moncks Corner property was rented and no real estate taxes are owed, Smith said.
In January, American LaFrance abruptly closed its facilities in Moncks Corner, Ephrata, Pa., and Los Angeles, which resulted in the layoffs of about 150 employees.