Garfield County, districts to cough up $2 million in oil, gas property tax refunds
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County government and special districts in the western part of the county will have to refund about $2 million between them to five natural gas companies, following a successful property tax appeal to the state.A stipulation handed down by the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) was signed by county commissioners on Monday. It re-sets the valuation for personal property owned by the companies from $720 million, the valuation originally determined by the county assessor’s office last year, to $560 million.While the stipulated agreement is less than the county’s original appraisal, it is still more than the $340 million the companies had argued for in their appeal, Garfield County Oil and Gas Appraiser Sean McCourt said.Companies making the appeal were Encana Oil & Gas, Enterprise Gas Processing LLC, Bill Barrett Corp., ETC Canyon Pipeline and Noble Energy Inc. Another case brought by PVC is still pending.”We usually come out somewhere in the middle in these cases,” McCourt said before the county commissioners. “This is the number that was determined to be fair to both parties.”We have gotten a lot of useful information from this that we can use in the future,” he said. “But the painful part is the money we have to give back.”The stipulation means the county has about $46 million less in assessed valuation for the properties, which is the amount used to determine property taxes, Garfield County Assessor John Gorman said.While the companies paid their taxes this year based on the county’s original assessment, they proceeded with the appeal, he said. With the BAA’s stipulation, the difference must be refunded, with interest.Of the approximately $2 million that will need to be refunded, about one-third will come from Garfield County government, including the county general fund and other funds that rely on property tax revenues, Gorman said.The remainder will come from west-end school districts, including Garfield District Re-2 and District 16, as well as Colorado Mountain College, the county library district, fire districts in New Castle/Silt, Rifle and Parachute, and a variety of smaller special districts.The districts will be asked to refund their proportional share of the total, Gorman said.
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