County takes $140K hit in valuation protest by energy company
By Ken Childers
A property tax valuation protest by an energy-related company has resulted in the loss of $140,000 in ad valorem tax revenue for Okfuskee County.
According to County Clerk Dianne Flanders, Glenpool West Gathering, LLC, protested its tax valuation of $18 million, which would have netted the county $180,000. The Okfuskee County Board of Equalization agreed to lower the valuation to $4 million, the equivalent of $40,000 in revenue for the county.
Flanders said that even though the valuation was lowered by $14 million, the Board of Equalization and Glenpool are still miles apart regarding a final tax bill: the company thinks the valuation should be only $200,000.
“Im sure they’ll probably end up suing us in court, but as it stands right now, we’re going to end up loosing $14 million in valuations,” Flanders said during a quarterly meeting of elected officials. The meeting, held to discuss possible risk factors, was conducted inside of the Okfuskee County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting held Monday morning.
Glenpool has a network of pipelines that run across Okfuskee County, which are used to gather gas from wells. The company, which reported over $13 billion in revenue for 2019, is a subsidiary of Houston-based Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America.
Also during the meeting, Flanders reported that miscellaneous collections for her office during fiscal year 2019-2020, which ended June 30, were off over $33,000 from the previous year. FY2019-2020 collections totaled $56,649.50. In FY2018-2019, the amount was $85,896.83.
County Treasurer Lori Coplin said that while collections for FY2019-2020 were up about $26,000 over the previous fiscal year, a drop in interest rates has affected the general fund. Monies are routinely deposited into interest-bearing accounts, such as certificates of deposit. The county is allowed to include 75 percent of the interest earned on those accounts in its operating budget. Court Clerk Sherri Foreman reported that her collections have been down, largely because the courts have not been issuing failure to pay warrants.
Commissioners meeting highlights
During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners approved the allocation of the alcoholic beverage tax, which totaled $13,084.33. The board also approved the Okfuskee County Treasurer Statutory Report from the Oklahoma State Auditor dated January 31, 2020. In the report, State Auditor Cindy Byrd stated that no exceptions were found.
Other actions taken by the board included the approval of $12,424 in blanket purchase orders as well as $93,314.81 in claims for items purchased. Discussion of guidelines for reopening the Okfuskee County Free Fair amid the COVID-19 pandemic was tabled until the first meeting in August.
aClaims for items purchased totaling $120,185.87 were also approved.
The commissioners typically meet each Monday at 9 a.m. on the first floor of the courthouse. All board meetings are open to the public, subject to the COVID-19 restrictions that are currently in place. A face mask or suitable face covering is required to gain entrance to the courthouse, which is limited to the north entrance only. All visitors are subject to a COVID-19 screening, which includes a temperature check.