The Greene County Commission held a Special Called Meeting on August 17, 2022, for the purpose of accepting and approving a settlement agreement between Greenetrack and the Commission.
The dispute goes back about ten years and concerns payment of rent by Greenetrack for use of the 53-acre site of the original dog racing track and ancillary buildings, which are now used for simulcast wagering on dogs and horses as well as electronic bingo.
When Bear Bryant Jr. ended his relationship as owner of Greenetrack. He gave his ownership rights in the property half to Greene County Commission and half to the employees of Greenetrack based on their position and seniority.
Greenetrack, represented by its CEO Luther Winn paid $250,000 in rental for the year 2012, but the Greene County Commission did not want to accept the check because Commission Chair, Nick Underwood, felt the county should receive more in rent. The check from Greenetrack was never cashed and clashing lawsuits were filed by both parties.
The agreement signed at the special meeting by Greenetrack CEO, Luther Winn, provides payment of $800,000 in back rent, over five years at the rate of $160,000 a year, payable April 1 of each year until April 2026. Greenetrack also agreed to a rental agreement to pay $100,000 a year rental each year for two years from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2024, with a right of automatic lease renewals on an annual basis.
Winn signed the agreement and gave a check or $250,000, which was $10,000 less than the $260,000 required and said he would submit the rest at a later date.
The County Commission also officially approved the settlement, which includes provisions to dismiss lawsuits between the parties. This settlement also frees up a large escrow fund of over $200,000, held by the County Commission for the Greene County Water and Sewer Authority of funds paid by Greenetrack for water and sewer services during the dispute.
After handing the check to Greene County, Winn said, “Greenetrack is a major business in Greene County that employs 98 people and attracts people to visit the county. Greenetrack is currently facing a critical challenge to its existence from the Alabama Supreme Court and Alabama Revenue Commission requiring millions of dollars back sales taxes that will drive Greenetrack out of business. I had hoped the County Commission would ask us how you can help our business at this time.”
Winn went on to say that he is going to hold negotiations with the State Revenue Commission to reduce the amount of back sales taxes to a more reasonable figure representing actual income and considering a 1997 tax exemption and Tax Tribunal decisions affirming the exemption that Greenetrack received prior to the latest Alabama Supreme Court decision, which he characterized as “over-reach”.
The Commission also approved a resolution concerning bank accounts before adjourning the special meeting.