Eddy County receives $302K in oil and gas back taxes

DeJanay Booth
Carlsbad Current-Argus
Several oil and gas equipment have in Eddy County have been inspected as part of an audit. The county has received more than $300,000 in back taxes for the equipment that has not been rendered for a period of time.

About $302,000 of an estimated $460,000 in oil and gas equipment back taxes have been collected by Eddy County, officials said.

Three oil and gas companies have allegedly failed to render their gas gathering pipelines for taxation. The county also was informed that possibly 111 drilling rigs managed by various companies were omitted from the taxation process.

The audit thus far shows that some of the companies operating in Eddy County have failed to pay taxes for the last decade.

Eddy County Assessor Gemma Ferguson said a total of about $365,000 was billed to companies so far.

"We've got some larger pipelines that we are going to bill out to later this month," Ferguson said. "We still have a lot (of companies) to locate."

The county has received about 30 percent of the money tax dollars, which is distributed among the county, the state and local schools.

The audit process started with Ferguson's predecessor, former County Assessor Karen Robinson.

More:Millions missing in unpaid oil and gas taxes

In 2012, Robinson filed a lawsuit in Fifth Judicial District Court against then-county commissioners after she was denied the ability to contract a company to complete the audit.

The district court ruled in favor of Robinson, but the commission filed an appeal in 2013, according to court documents. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of Robinson in 2015.

Ferguson said the process was officially underway in July 2016 after contracting Arkansas-based Total Assessment Solutions Corp (TASC).

"Karen (Robinson) felt there was a lot of value," Ferguson said. "It's very important because we need to have a level playing field.

"Some oil and gas (companies) are paying taxes every day and everybody needs to pay what they owe."

TASC, which is under a four-year contract with the county, is undertaking an oil and gas mapping and discovery project. The project includes evaluating pipelines, wells and compressors in the county.

More:Oil and industry owes taxes to Eddy County

Jerry Wisdom, oil and gas appraisal manager with TASC, said over 80,000 pipelines, above ground service, wellbores, gas meters and compressors have been inspected in the county.

Notices to evaluate pipelines were recently sent to nine companies. Wisdom said the company is continuing their evaluations.

As TASC completes their evaluations, they contact the county to confirm whether the company has rendered their assets for taxation.

"The project is going well. It is a tremendous amount of things we have to go through," he said. "One at a time."

As part of the project objectives, Wisdom presented the importance of auditing oil and gas equipment for property tax purposes on Oct. 30 to the New Mexico Legislative Interim Revenue Stabilization & Tax Policy Committee.

DeJanay Booth can be reached at 575-628-5546, dbooth@currentargus.com and @DeJanayBooth on Twitter.