Assessor predicting assessed value slump in Moffat County

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Story at a glance

• Preliminary 2010 assessed value of Moffat County down 7.49 percent, or $38.1 million from 2009.

• Assessed value of county estimated at $471.7 million this year, down from 2009’s $509.9 million.

• Oil and gas assessed value down about 44 percent, or $61.8 million from 2009.

• Natural resources assessed value sees 6 percent, or $3 million increase.

• Coal production in 2009 down about 1.2 million tons from 2008 production.

A projection of Moffat County’s 2010 assessed value indicades county government and other taxing entities could see a dip in tax revenues.

A presentation Tuesday from Moffat County Assessor Suzanne Brinks to the Moffat County Commission revealed the county could lose an estimated 7.49 percent of its assessed value from last year.

Brinks is estimating the assessed value of the county for 2010 at $471.7 million, which is down from 2009’s $509.9 million. That equals to an estimated $38.1 million decline in value, according to estimates.

Moffat County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said the estimated 7.49-percent decrease in the county’s assessed value could mean a $758,815 decline in revenue to the county.

Gerber said the county originally projected a $1 million revenue loss stemming from the decreased assessed value.

The county relies heavily on assessed value for budgeting, Gerber said.

“It’s going to be a tough budget year with this and other ballot measures that are out there,” Gerber said.

In 2009, 38 percent of the property taxes collected in Moffat County went to county government.

Commissioner Tom Mathers said the news of the dip in the county’s assessed value was “very frustrating.”

“Last year, we made some pretty significant cuts and combined some services knowing that we were going to be down this year,” he said. “All of a sudden, a year goes by so quick, and here we are looking at our new budget and having to make more cuts.”

Contributing to the drop in assessed value of the county was the oil and gas industry, which dropped $61.8 million in assessed value last year.

Each year, the assessor’s office re-assesses oil and gas, coal and personal property in the county.

Oil and gas assessments are based on revenue collected by the industry the year before.

Brinks said 2009 production levels of oil and gas, however, remained about the same from 2008.

For the 2009 assessment, the oil industry reported 275,259 barrels were produced in the county during 2008.

For the 2010 assessment, oil production was reported to be up to 301,206 barrels in the county during 2009.

Gas production in 2009 decreased slightly, however, to 20,658,619 thousand cubic feet from 2008’s 20,673,784 thousand cubic feet.

Although the 2009 production levels were relatively stable from 2008, Brinks said the drop in assessed value comes from the oil and gas industry collecting less revenue from production.

“It’s because they sold the gas and the oil for less than they did the prior year of 2008,” she said. “The production was almost identical, but the (revenue) was 44-percent down.”

The assessor’s office valued 2008’s oil production at $15.8 million, but the value dropped during 2009’s production to $9.7 million.

Natural gas also dropped from 2008’s production value of $92 million to 2009’s production value of $39.1 million.

Natural resources, including coal, jumped about 6 percent, or $3 million.

Slumps in production and value were overcome by an increase in coal personal property on things like trucks and equipment, Brinks said.

In 2008, 6.12 million tons of coal were produced in the county, but that number dropped to 4.9 million tons in 2009.

As such, the value of coal production and improvements also dropped from 2009’s assessed value of $24.3 million to $19.1 million this year.

Coal personal property increased, however, from 2009’s assessed value of $24.4 million, to $32.8 million this year.

Brinks is also projecting a 10-percent, or $18.8 million, increase in the state assessed portions of the county.

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