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Pipeline values will help lower tax rate

Posted 10/13/15 (Tue)

By Cecile Krimm
Divide County Commissioners were reeling last week -- in a good way -- from information regarding properties centrally assessed by the state.
According to a Certificate of Assessment, the true and full value of a number of newer pipelines has nearly doubled since last year and are now pegged at over $263  million.
“This should lower taxes for our people,” said Commissioner Doug Graupe, because the cost of county services and expenses will now be shared with even more highly valuable pipeline   properties than in the past.
Earlier in the budgeting process, Commissioner Gerald Brady expressed concern depreciation of existing pipelines might actually cause the overall value of this type of property to decline.
But, “We didn’t realize there were this many new pipelines,” said Graupe.
Actually, none of the pipelines is new, but several have grown in length and value. One pipeline, the USG Midstream Bakken 1, is responsible for the majority of the increase, from a value of $7.7 million last year, to $72 million this year.
The result of the change, overall, is great news for commissioners who struggled at budget time.
“This means all of our mills will go down,” said Graupe, though they are still working through the details.
The county last month was required to publish notice of a proposed 17 percent tax increase, which was frustrating, since it was an estimate made before the centrally assessed figures came in. Now that those figures are in, “we feel we can pass the budget.”
While depreciation may be a factor in the future, these pipelines will operate for many more years to come so they will continue to be assessed. In theory, Graupe agreed, that could mean less burden on other local tax payers for many years, too.