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Industry stakeholders voice support for removing sunset clause of oil and gas property tax


Charleston, W.Va. (WV News) – Business and industry representatives spoke in a favor of a proposed bill Wednesday that would remove a sunset clause in a section of state code related to oil and gas property taxes.

During a public hearing on House Bill 4850 hosted by the West Virginia House of Delegates Finance Committee, multiple oil and gas sector stakeholders argued the bill would provide stability and consistency to the process for assessing the value of oil and gas producing properties.

"We fully support the passage of House Bill 4850, that simply proposes to remove the July 1 sunset date from this legislation," said Charlie Burd, executive director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia.

Over the past few regular sessions of West Virginia Legislature, lawmakers have passed bills aimed at modernizing state code dealing with the methodology used by the State Tax Department to determine the valuation of oil and gas property tax.

HB 4850 would keep all other provisions of these codified changes in place other than the expiration date, Burd said.

"A vote to remove the sunset provision as proposed in House Bill 4850 would extend current law, thus providing much greater surety, predictability and fairness to the industry and more greatly contribute to the financial well-being of all West Virginia counties," he said.

The recently passed oil and gas taxation bills were the result of "a great deal of give and take and compromise," said Maribeth Anderson, director of government relations at Antero Resources.

"It bases the value of the wells on a simple and straightforward approach — the actual net proceeds of the well minus the actual expenses," she said. "A vote to remove the sunset provision and extend the current tax law is the best way to provide predictability and fairness and surety for the industry and continued financial benefit for the counties."

Passing HB 4850 would demonstrate state-level support of the oil and gas industry, said Brian Dayton, vice president of policy and advocacy for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

"Let's make no mistake about it," he said. "Our federal government is making it harder and harder to produce natural gas and deliver it to the market. Because of that, West Virginia needs to be that much better at ensuring we can get these valuable resources to market and continue to fuel our country and the world."

John Leonette, a Brooke country resident, spoke in favor of amending HB 4850 include language about factoring fair market value into the assessments.

"We just want the House to add this in there so there's no confusion anymore," he said.

Scott Lemley, the Wetzel County assessor, urged lawmakers to either reject the bill entirely or to amend it extend the sunset clause while working to devise a new system for assessments.

"Either option allows for the opportunity to study multiple models and methodologies to determine a workable appraisal model to maintain our thriving gas industry while assuring the taxpayers' rights are protected," he said.


Story by Charles Young, The State Journal



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