Four vehicles owned by Miller Energy LLC were seized by county officials last week and transferred to Precinct 4 as part of a tax warrant issued by the 266th Judicial District Court.
Tax assessor Jennifer Carey was on site Wednesday with Sgt. Jeremy Woodruff who was marking the vehicles for tax resale. Miller Energy, a petroleum drilling company based in LaFayette, Louisiana, has property near Interstate 20 and a number of wells located in Erath County. Property taxes have not been paid by the company since 2010.
While calls to Miller Energy went unanswered, Carey said her office has been working with the company to collect payment on property taxes since the company began operating in Erath County. The most recent action taken by the county was to have a warrant issued for a tax sale, with the county taking possession of four vehicles.
This was one of the final steps in an ongoing battle with Miller Operating Company, Miller Petroleum Partners, Crimson Energy Company and Miller Energy Company for the payment of delinquent taxes due to Huckabay ISD, Erath County, Gordon ISD and the Middle Trinity Water District, she said.
"My office has been working with Miller Energy representatives for months in an attempt to get these taxes paid," Carey said. "We have the right to go in and take the wells themselves, but haven't yet because we didn't want to do that to them, but at this point, we just need to collect the funds."
Miller Energy is delinquent on more than $95,000 worth of property taxes in Erath County. Many of the property items listed on the warrant are drilling wells within the county, more than 25 of them, and Carey said the county could take possession of them all.
"My office started with the vehicles, the 'personal property' as it is called, to try and get the taxes back without taking possession of and attempting to sell the wells themselves from Miller Energy," she said. "But at this point, the county just needs its money. We've done all we can to help in this situation."
A 2005 Mack Truck, 2007 Troy Token Truck, 2007 International Truck and 2006 PJ Gooseneck utility trailer that were seized by the county will be up for auction at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at the Erath County Courthouse. Carey said the county will take whatever price they can get on the equipment. If it is not enough, the county will seize the rest of the personal property on the Miller Energy lot, which still holds another truck and tractor, before taking ownership of the company's wells.
"We've bent over backwards trying to help this company, but at this point, it's too much," Carey said. "Erath County officials will work with businesses and residents who are actively trying to pay their taxes, however, we will not tolerate delinquency."