Lane owes Tombigbee EPA, other utilities $600K

By Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tombigbee Electric Power Association and other utility providers in Northeast Mississippi are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by Furniture Brands International, the parent of Lane Furniture Industries.

Furniture Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 9, and hundreds of creditors are hoping to recoup some of the money owed them. Among them are some 120 utility providers.

At the time of FBI’s bankruptcy, Lane employed some 1,400 people at its manufacturing sites in Belden and Saltillo, office and warehouse in Verona and distribution center in Wren.

In a filing last week with the bankruptcy court in Delaware, Tombigbee EPA, Lee County and Okolona Electric said they’re owed nearly $600,000 by Lane. They also say FBI’s request to set aside less than $900,000 for utility costs is not enough.

Furniture Brands filed a motion after its bankruptcy petition asking the court to prohibit utilities from altering, refusing or discontinuing services.

In court documents, the utilities are asking the judge to deny the motion, insisting that the company provides each of them a cash deposit or some other form of payment.

• Tombigbee said Lane owes it $510,000 under 13 different accounts. In recent months, Lane’s usage has been $200,000. Lane is on 30-day billing cycle, which means it has two months of usage outstanding at any given time. That also leaves Tombigbee with an “exposure” of about $400,000. TEPA is asking for a $300,000 deposit.

• Lee County provides water and sewage to Lane, which owes the county about $17,700 with water and sewage service. In recent months, Lane’s usage has been about $3,700 a month. Its billing cycle also means the county is on the hook for about $7,400 at any given time, and has asked for a $6,000 deposit.

• Okolona Electric also provides electricity to Lane, which owes it $63,700 across three Lane accounts. Lane’s recent usage was about $30,000. The most recent rent meter reading showed usage of over $21,000 during a nine-day period.

Lane has about two months of outstanding bills at any time, giving Okolona Electric exposure of about $60,000. The utility has a security deposit of $48,000, but has asked for a deposit of $60,000.

dennis.seid@journalin.com