Frederick Brewing building scheduled to be sold today
May 12, 2004
Sherry Greenfield
Staff Writer

County officials are expecting $700,000 in back taxes and fees to be paid this week after the sale of property owned by Frederick Brewing Company.

Ruppert Companies, an investment company headquartered in Laytonsville, Md., is expected to go to settlement today on the purchase of The Frederick Brewing Company building.

If today's expected sale of the building is complete, the troubled beverage company must pay Frederick County $610,392.63 in delinquent water and sewer fees and property taxes in the amount of $86,217.28.

All payments must be made no later than noon Friday. If the company fails to make its payment, water and sewer service will be terminated on Saturday.

"Frederick Brewing is working its way through a very challenging financial period," said Bill Meissner, Ruppert's vice president, in an April 14 letter to Frederick County Commissioner Michael L. Cady (R). "To further complicate the matter, one could argue it has displayed questionable judgment in the past, especially while being overseen by its outside receiver. Having said that, I feel that the brewery and its survival are important to Frederick, and, we, too, are committed to the investment. Over the last several months, I have grown increasingly confident in the company's ownership and their commitment to operating the type of business that Frederick would value."

Meissner also makes it clear in his letter that Ruppert has no intention of operating the brewery, located on Wedgewood Boulevard in Frederick.

The brewery will continue under the ownership of Snyder International Brewing Group LLC. Ruppert Companies will own the building only.

The county will continue to regulate and keep tabs on the company through the permits it issues for water and sewer.

"While we would not be involved in the brewery operation itself, our purchase of this property/plant hinges on the brewery's ability to resolve the outstanding issue it has with Frederick County, in particular the water and sewer matter," Meissner wrote.

Tuesday's agreement between the county and Frederick Brewing also stipulates that the $610,392.63 includes payment for the delinquent water and sewer fees.

The saga of the embattled company dates to 2001, when Frederick Brewing was not able to pay the county's increased water and sewer rates and fees.

In January 2002, Frederick Brewing and its Maryland affiliate, Blue II, were placed in receivership in the state of Ohio, home of the Snyder International Brewing Group LLC.

Under the receivership arrangement, the Ohio courts appointed a receiver or trustee to manage and control the company.

Meanwhile, the company owed the county more than $1 million in delinquent water and sewer fees, connection charges and property taxes.

Disgusted with the brewing company's refusal to pay its water and sewer service, Michael Marschner, director of Frederick County's Utilities and Solid Waste Management, attempted to include the brewery in the county's annual tax sale last year.

But the inclusion of the brewery in the tax sale never happened.

Since then, county officials have been actively trying to collect the taxes and fees.

On Tuesday, Cady questioned Marschner about how the brewing company's debt to the county grew so large.

"How did somebody get $1 million in debt and we didn't know about it?" he asked.

Marschner defended his position.

"It was supposed to go to tax sale a year ago," he said. "But it fell through the cracks. We're trying to resolve it and resolve it as equitable as possible and make sure this doesn't happen again."

Following several threats by Marschner to turn off their water and sewer, the company paid down some of its county debt.

Frederick Brewing has also been included in this year's property tax sale set for Monday. The sale will go through if the tax payment is not made to the county.

On April 22, the commissioners sent a letter to C. David Snyder, owner of the Frederick Brewing Company, outlining payments to be made to the county. The letter stipulates that all payments must be paid no later than noon Friday and warning that failure to do so will result in termination of service on Saturday.

"The sale will not be recorded until we get every dime under the terms of the April 22 letter," Commission President John "Lennie" Thompson Jr. (R) said. "This means to me every cent."

Snyder agreed to the terms and signed the letter.