ad valorem

Stephanie Joyce

A coal company in the Powder River Basin has avoided paying millions in personal and property taxes to Campbell County. Blackjewel has fallen delinquent $8,647,576.23 in taxes primarily from production, according to Campbell County attorney Carol Seeger. They were due last year. On March 1, another $8 million will come due. If the company doesn't pay it by May 10, it will be considered delinquent.

Screenshot from SF 118
wyoleg.gov

A bill under discussion in the Wyoming legislature called tax liability mineral production may not sound important, but Sheridan Representative Cyrus Western, and other legislators, assure that it is. Counties see it as a step towards recovering taxes owed to them from mineral companies - ad valorem taxes.

Delinquent mineral production taxes by county updated in July of this year
Powder River Basin Resource Council

Last Friday, legislators spent three and half hours hearing testimony and discussing improvements to the ad valorem tax system, one-time severance taxes paid to counties to fund local services and the state school system. 

Powder River Basin Resource Council

The Joint Interim Revenue Committee is planning to discuss changes to a particular kind of tax known as ad valorem. It's a mineral property tax that has been a huge challenge for counties to collect for years due to policies that don't prioritize its collection.

Mark Christensen speaking in front of the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources
House Committee on Natural Resources

Congress is considering a bill called the POWER Counties Act that would re-direct funds back to mineral-producing counties. The reclamation fund within the Mineral Leasing Act typically supports water projects, like dams, but now has an excess of money thanks to increased mineral leasing. 

Pinedale, WY at sundown with a rig in the background
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

When you look past the light brown brick courthouse in downtown Pinedale, there are rolling hills dotted with sage brush and thin dark shapes in the distance. Those are oil and gas rigs. They are the largest contributor to revenue out here, but sometimes, when those companies that own those rigs remove resources from the ground, they don’t follow through on paying a key tax to the county.