BLOOMFIELD — For more than 20 years, multi-million dollar gas-fired plants along County Road 4900 on the edge of Bloomfield's northeastern boundary has been provided emergency services and water for bargain basement prices.
The companies that own those plants agreed to make nominal payments to the city of Bloomfield, which provides the services, in exchange for not being annexed, Bloomfield City Manager David Fuqua said.
Fuqua said the agreements weren't fair to city residents because the businesses were getting a significant tax break. He said the city is taking steps to end those agreements, annex the valuable property and grow the city's tax rolls.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the proposal Dec. 23.
"The city lost a lot of money because of those agreements. I don't know how much, but it's definitely in the millions," Fuqua said. The operating plants "have been reaping all the benefits of living in the city limits and they've been paying a fraction of what everyone else is."
Bloomfield is moving forward with plans to annex 6,700 acres of land surrounding the city. Much of the land in the proposed annexation area is northwest and northeast of current city limits. The proposed annexation would more than double the town's size.
There are four companies that own about $165 million worth of property in the proposed annexation area. The property includes gas-fired plants, compressor stations and pipelines, according to San Juan County Assessor's Office documents.
There are Enterprise's Valverde and Blanco gas plants worth $71 million, and the $51 million Transwestern Pipeline Company's Bloomfield Compressor Station along County Road 4900. ConocoPhillips and Williams each have at least $21 million of property in the proposed annexation area, according to San Juan County Assessor's Office documents.
This year, the companies that own property in the area paid Bloomfield more than $300,000 in exchange for services, Fuqua said.
But Enterprise, Transwestern, ConocoPhillips and Williams would pay Bloomfield at least an additional $500,000 in combined property taxes if Bloomfield moves forward with its annexation proposal, according to San Juan County Assessor's Office records. Overall, officials estimated Bloomfield would collect an additional $1 million in property taxes each year if the annexation is approved.
Only about $2,300 of that extra property tax collection would come from increases on residential property in the proposed annexation, according to county records.
Bloomfield's entire budget is about $15 million, Fuqua said.
San Juan County Assessor Clyde Ward estimated the company's property value in the proposed annexation area from the value they claimed in 2013 on land outside of Bloomfield city limits but within the Bloomfield school district's boundaries.
He didn't include pipelines in the estimate, because their value is not public information, he said. It's unknown exactly how much more property taxes Bloomfield will collect if the city moves ahead with annexation, Ward said.
San Juan County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said Bloomfield's proposal would reduce the county's tax revenue by at least the $150,000 it collects from a franchise fee imposed on businesses in unincorporated areas. The businesses in the proposed annexation area would also no longer pay a fire excise tax and a solid waste fund tax that is collected as part of gross receipts taxes in unincorporated areas, he said.
Fuqua said that if the city annexes all the land in the proposal, it will cost about $500,000 to extend city infrastructure to all the annexed areas.
In addition to ending the tax break for several big businesses, Fuqua said the annexation proposal would give the city control over land that can be used for future development.
"That's the area where we are going to see growth in the next 20 to 30 years," Fuqua said. "As a city we'd be really negligent if we didn't control the land out there."
Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.