The New Britain Rock Cats have paid back more than $164,000 in taxes owed on their stadium lease, securing the team’s ability to play there in the 2015 season, according to a news release from the mayor's office.
According to the release, team owner Josh Solomon sent New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart a check for $164,569.26 owed to Berlin. The team had until Sept. 1 to pay up or face the possibility of eviction.
Now the team will continue to play in New Britain through next season and will has avoid an additional $5,000 penalty, the release says.
New Britain had been paying Berlin $30,000 per year in lieu of stadium taxes, but the team's lease called for the Rock Cats to begin paying taxes July 1.
According to a statement sent from Solomon to the Hartford mayor's office, the Rock Cats have never been required to pay property taxes on the stadium until this summer.
Solomon wrote that the Rock Cats were placed on the Berlin tax roll in 2013 and were asked to pay more than $320,000 in annual property taxes, but that New Britain appealed and requested that the stadium be exempt since the building is municipally owned.
After the Rock Cats' plan to move to Hartford was publicized, New Britain settled with Berlin and agreed to a $160,000 real estate tax "without the Rock Cats' consultation or participation," according to Solomon.
"We continue to believe that Berlin's tax assessment of $160,000 on the Rock Cats and the City of New Britain [is] entirely unfair, representing an approximate 1000% increase over what the team had previously paid each year," Solomon said in the statement.
"Because this also represents an especially undue burden on the taxpayers of New Britain, the Rock Cats today met with Mayor Steawrt and provided the City with a $160,000 payment. We will continue to pursue the appropriate steps necessary to appeal and reverse this unfair decision and we're pleased that the City of New Britain has no objection to our course of action," Solomon said.
The team’s parent company, New Britain Double Play, has filed a lawsuit against Berlin in an effort to reduce the bill. The suit is still pending.
“As long as they have paid what they owe to New Britain, I wish them well in their pending litigation with Berlin. My goal was protecting our taxpayers and our relationship with our neighbor, and that has been accomplished,” Stewart said in a statement Wednesday.