Parkway Plaza Owes State More Than $95,000 In Back Taxes; Liquor License Was Suspended Three Times
The Parkway Plaza owes Wyoming more than $95,000 for unpaid sales and use taxes and unemployment insurance taxes, according state agency records filed with the Natrona County Clerk.
The Department of Revenue's Liquor Division also notified the City of Casper of tax delinquencies three times in the past year, notifications that gave the city the option of suspending the Parkway's liquor license.
And they are notifications the city never received, City Manager V.H. McDonald said Monday.
The tax problems may be discussed at a closed meeting today with city officials and representatives of the hotel -- CRU Casper and its parent company CRU Real Estate Group of Costa Mesa, Calif. -- about the city's offer to spend $5 million for infrastructure near the hotel if it builds a convention center, McDonald said.
In June 2015, when the CRU Real Estate Group bought the Parkway from Pat Sweeney’s Hospitality Development Corp., its principal partner Steve Senft said he intended to make the Parkway the premier hotel in Wyoming. Senft did not return a call seeking comment.
But the Parkway soon ran into money problems.
First, some background.
When the Department of Revenue learns a business with a liquor license has not paid its sales taxes, it immediately notifies its Liquor Division, division chief enforcement officer Tom Montoya said.
The division sends a letter to the local licensing authority -- in this case the City of Casper -- of that business stating the delinquency, he said. "We do that usually in minutes."
The division's warehouse then refuses to sell spirits and wines to that business, Montoya said.
That business breaks the law if it buys alcoholic beverages from other retailers and resells them, he said.
The notification also allows the local licensing authority to suspend a liquor license, Montoya said. "Primary enforcement would come from the licensing authority. This would be between the city and Casper PD."
In the past year, the city received three such notifications of delinquency and two notifications saying the Parkway had paid its taxes, according to letters supplied by the Liquor Division.
On Nov. 30, 2015, the division wrote to the Casper City Clerk saying the Parkway was delinquent, and then on Dec. 9 saying the Parkway had paid up.
Four months later, on April 11, the division again wrote the Parkway was on a sales tax hold. On June 10, the division notified the city that the Parkway was current on its sales taxes.
But less than three weeks ago, on Nov. 3, the division told the city another sales tax hold was in effect.
McDonald insisted the city never received any such letters about the Parkway.
McDonald didn't know about the Department of Revenue's $92,743.60 lien against the Parkway, either, until a K2 Radio reporter told him about it.
Likewise, he did not know the Department of Workforce Services last month filed a lien against CRU Casper, LLC, for $3,037.64 in unpaid unemployment insurance taxes.
The tax problems have had personal ramifications, too.
At the Casper City Council meeting Nov. 15, former Parkway employee Russ Reddick said he and other employees were told to illegally buy liquor from local liquor stores.
"They gave me a corporate credit card, sent me out. They said, 'take your own vehicle and try and go to like two or three different places,'" Reddick said. "They know they're doing wrong."