Cable television customers in Craig are without service as of late last week after Craig Cable TV closed up shop.
The Prince of Wales Island company has shut down in response to owing about $60,000 in back sales taxes and rent payments to the City of Craig.
Craig City Manager Jon Bolling says the city filed a civil lawsuit last year against Craig Cable TV and its owner, Donald Natkong Sr. of Hydaburg, in Alaska Superior Court. While the official ruling from Judge David George is not yet filed, Bolling says the case recently went in the city’s favor.
Bolling, who declined to be recorded for this report, says the city is pursuing what is owed by the company.
According to the complaint filed in court by the City of Craig, that includes payments for property that Craig Cable TV leased from the city for its operations. The monthly rent for that property, including tax, was $476. Payment had not been made since March of 2013, and the back rent plus interest was nearly $12,000 when the lawsuit was filed in March of 2015.
The complaint also details how much taxable income the business has had over the past several years, and the amount of sales tax that should have been collected and paid as a result.
Each quarter – which is about three months – businesses must file sales tax returns along with the payment owed. Craig Cable TV’s taxable income is at least $30,000 each quarter. Starting in the fourth quarter of 2011, Natkong started having trouble paying the sales tax collected from customers.
According to the complaint, some partial payments of sales taxes were made, but Bolling says at a certain point, even those stopped. Around that same time, Craig Cable TV stopped filing any sales tax returns at all. That means city officials used previous returns to estimate the taxable income for each quarter since that time. Each late or missing payment also led to penalties and interest, adding even more to the total owed by the company.
There was no answer at the two Hydaburg phone numbers listed for Donald Natkong Sr., and nobody returned a message left by KRBD on the voicemail for one of those numbers. There was no answer and no voicemail option at number listed for the business.
Natkong’s attorney, Michael Nash of Wrangell, said that it was with great sadness that the Natkong family decided to close the cable business.
“They were simply unable to continue to pay the sales tax and lease on the property were they have their receivers and electronics,” he said. “The City of Craig brought suit against them, and they failed to respond to the suit in a timely manner. As a consequence, the court found that they were in default. The result is, they will have to shut down and they will have to remove their equipment.”
Nash said while there is still some dispute over a few of the numbers claimed in the lawsuit, the family intends to pay back the City of Craig.
Bolling said Craig Cable TV was the only cable company for the city, although there is satellite TV available. He wasn’t sure how many customers have been affected by the closure.
This report has been updated to include attorney Nash’s comments.