BLOWING ROCK — A dispute regarding more than 10 years of occupancy tax is in mediation, but could be ordered to trial in June if not successful.
The town of Blowing Rock is trying to claim occupancy tax that it says Gideon Ridge Inn has been wrongly paying to Caldwell County since June 2008, which totals in excess of $150,000.
According to the suit originally filed in January, Blowing Rock claims that Gideon Ridge Inn has been splitting its 6 percent occupancy tax between Blowing Rock and Caldwell County for 10 years since the town annexed the land that the inn sits on in June 2008.
Citing North Carolina statutes, Blowing Rock claims they are entitled to the entire 6 percent and are asking for the occupancy taxes from Caldwell County, plus relief.
However, in a response filed in March, Caldwell County and its lawyer David Lackey moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claims governmental immunity, seeks a statue of limitations, claims the “extreme delay” in Blowing Rock’s recovery efforts is “unreasonable” and that they’re not a real party in interest and it would go against the state constitutional to withdraw money from a treasury unit of a local government except by authority of law.
Gideon Ridge Inn filed its responses on April 24. Through its lawyer Frank Wilson of Boone, the inn asks the case be dismissed, but says that it paid the entire 6 percent occupancy tax to Caldwell County as instructed by an official of the Tax Administration Office of Caldwell County after being annexed into Blowing Rock in June 2008.
The inn pleads in its defense that it has paid all occupancy taxes due to Blowing Rock and Caldwell County in full and demands that Blowing Rock receive nothing from it. The inn asks if that the court holds that Blowing Rock is entitled to the occupancy tax funds, that it also rule in favor of the inn in its cross-claim against Caldwell County.
The case was moved from Watauga County to Caldwell County Superior Court in March upon a motion by Caldwell County. According to Justina Tate, the Superior Court trial coordinator for Burke and Caldwell counties, Caldwell County has 140 days to answer Gideon Ridge Inn’s cross-claim. After which, Tate said if mediation doesn’t resolve the case, it will likely be put on the calendar for a jury case in November.
Blowing Rock town attorney Allen Moseley previously said the town discovered the discrepancy in occupancy tax in spring 2018 and then unsuccessfully tried to resolve the matter with Caldwell County before filing suit. All three parties agree that Caldwell County refused to pay Blowing Rock the occupancy tax when requested in 2018.
According to Moseley, statutes passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1987 concurrently allowed Blowing Rock to levy and collect a 3 percent occupancy tax while not permitting Caldwell County to collect occupancy tax from the Blowing Rock properties in Caldwell County.
A small number of lots in the southern edge of Blowing Rock, including Gideon Ridge Inn, are located in Caldwell County.