USSK stands on land of Sokoľany, not Košice

The Supreme Court has made a decision in an almost 20-year dispute.

US Steel KošiceUS Steel Košice(Source: Courtesy of USSK)

The Supreme Court decided to the benefit of the village of Sokoľany in a long-term legal dispute. Based on it, the land on which the steelmaker U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) stands, belongs to the cadastre of the village of Sokoľany and not the city of Košice.

This way the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Regional Court in Košice from June 8, 2016 and confirmed the primary verdict of the District Court Košice-Region, Boris Urbančík, spokesperson of the Supreme Court told the TASR newswire.

Based on this verdict, it should be Sokoľany and not Košice to whom USSK should pay real estate tax.

For the Košice city council this means an annual shortfall in tax revenues of about €1.5 million next year and for Sokoľany, as it has lower real estate tax rates, an additional income of €700,000, the Košický Korzár wrote. Thus the steelmaker would save some money as well as other taxpayers who should now pay this tax to Sokoľany and not Košice as USSK is not the only company to which this dispute pertains.

The verdict is not effective yet. The Košice city council has refused to comment so far about the verdict as it has not yet received it officially. But it sees city councils of Košice from the previous regime as responsible for this lawsuit.

František Beregszászi, the mayor of Sokoľany confirmed for the TASR newswire that the return of roughly 670 hectares of land would mean for the village about €700,000 in real estate taxes annually.

“This means a lot for our village; we will finally complete the sewage system, roads and so on,” Beregszászi told TASR.

It was the so-called district national committee Košice-Vidiek (countryside) which in 1979 decided to affiliate a portion of the former district Košice-Vidiek to the city of Košice. Afterwards the regional national committee decided to allocate the land for construction of the steelmaker, the then-Východoslovenské Železiarne. Sokoľany, which was part of the village of Hutníky, argues that this happened without the consent of affected villages. Thus the village has required return of the land on the basis of the restitution law since 1997. The cadastre office confirmed the return of the land to Sokoľany, but the city of Košice challenged the decision. The dispute has been lasting for almost 20 years.

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