(Stillwater NewsPress (OK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 07--STILLWATER, Okla. -- Payne County Assessor James Cowan has told the County Excise Board he's concerned about a drop in the assessed value of business personal property in the county.
Assessed values for companies defined as public service that have their property assessed centrally by the Oklahoma Tax Commission have increased at the state level but are down 25 percent in Payne County.
Counties share revenue from public service companies based on what is located within that county.
Companies that fall under the public service designation are airlines, railroads, electric companies, fluid or product pipeline companies, gas distribution companies, telephone and telecommunications companies and water companies.
They are taxed on the value of everything from office equipment to transmission lines.
Some business personal property is assessed locally but it's not always easy to do.
Cowan said oil and gas property is hard to assess because it's not all visible.
Buried pipelines and underground tanks or pump stations can easily be undervalued or underreported, he said. You don't always know how much oil is in a storage tank.
Companies are taxed based on equipment location on Jan. 1 but things like drilling rigs that move are difficult to track.
He said the overall net assessed value for Payne County is up by 3.82 percent to about $681 million but that would be $3 million higher if public service assessments had increased at the same rate.
To be sure the oil and gas companies operating in Payne County pay what they owe, he plans to hire an outside contractor to do a comprehensive oil and gas asset survey and valuation, he said.
It will also help with valuing centrally assessed or public service properties.
Excise Board Chair Randy Wedel said he doesn't want anyone to pay more tax than they owe but he also doesn't want them to pay less.
"It needs to be properly valued and properly taxed," he said.
Cowan is preparing a request for proposal for a contractor.
He said he's budgeted $165,000 for the contract which will include performing the survey and valuation, providing details, defending the values assigned and going back three years to capture omitted items.
Logan County netted over $1 million in additional tax revenue by doing the same thing, he said.
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