Schools, other taxing districts on hook for Encana payback
Garfield County, along with Colorado Mountain College and several school, fire and special taxing districts, will have to pay back oil and gas producer Encana for $5.7 million in overpaid property taxes as a result of an error in the company’s own reporting.
The county itself will have to refund $1.9 million, while local districts, including the Garfield Re-2 and Garfield 16 school districts, owe a combined $3.8 million, according to the settlement reached last week by the Board of County Commissioners.
In addition, there is approximately $858,000 in interest, calculated at 1 percent per month, due to Encana. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky agreed the county should cover that amount from its special Oil and Gas Mitigation Fund.
“The Oil and Gas Mitigation Fund was established for situations such as this. I think it is prudent for Garfield County to pick up the interest amount for all the taxing districts,” Jankovsky said at a special Feb. 26 BOCC meeting.
The agreement ends a legal process that began in January 2017. Commissioners signed an agreement with Encana, resolving a long-running abatement process with the energy company.
According to the county, due to Encana’s own error in reporting the value of natural gas it produced in 2014, the company overpaid $5.7 million dollars in property taxes to Garfield County and local taxing districts.
After multiple negotiations requesting Encana reduce or drop the interest amounts with no resolution, Jankovsky recommended the county cover the entire amount of interest owed by the local taxing districts.
In addition to the two west Garfield school districts, De Beque JT-49 also owes part of the refund. Local government entities that are impacted include Garfield County, Grand Valley Fire District, Colorado River Fire District, Grand River Hospital District, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Colorado Mountain College, Parachute Parks and Recreation District, Bluestone Water District, West Divide Water District, Grand Valley Cemetery District, De Beque Fire District, and the Garfield County Public Library District.
The repayment agreement was approved unanimously by the BOCC, 3-0.
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