Decline in natural gas, oil impacts valuation

by karla pomeroy

After seeing a significant jump in valuation last year of $30 million, Big Horn County saw a decrease in valuation by $5 million.

According to figures from the Big Horn County Assessor’s Office, last year’s valuation was $294,606,744 and it dropped to $289,109,390. The biggest change is in the state assessed valuation, Assessor Gina Anderson said. The county’s state assessed valuation dropped from $198,849,143 to $192,882,139. The biggest decreases came in oil and natural gas with natural gas dropping $2.4 million in valuation. Oil dropped $6.8 million in valuation from a three-year high last year of $129 million to $122.2 million this year.

There were also decreases in valuation in railroad, gas distribution companies, major electrics, municipal electrics, major telecommunication, cable and satellite, rural telephone and sand and gravel.

In contrast to oil and natural gas, bentonite continued its increase in valuation for the fourth straight year, jumping $3.3 million this year to $47.1 million. Other state assessed industries seeing increases in valuation were liquid pipeline, rural electrics, cellular telecommunication, reseller telecommunication (jumping 98 percent from $2,488 in valuation last year to $99,709 this year) and gypsum.

Anderson said the 37 special districts who are assessed, including the nine municipalities saw a mix of increases and decreases. Those with significant decreases are attributed to the loss in valuation from oil and natural gas, including School District No. 4, a drop of $3.4 million and School District No. 1, a drop of $2.5 million. Districts 2 and 3 saw increases.

North Big Horn Hospital saw a drop of $3.1 million, as did districts with similar boundaries including the North Senior Service District. Anderson noted that oil production in the Byron area saw a decrease of $3 million, which also accounted for decreases in the Byron Cemetery and Byron Solid Waste Disposal District.

The South Big Horn Hospital District saw a drop in valuation of $2.3 million, as did the South Big Horn County Senior Service which has the same district boundaries.

All the fire districts saw decreases with the largest decreases in the Lovell district ($2.4 million) and Manderson ($2.3 million).

Of the nine cemetery districts, all but two dropped in valuation. Otto saw a drop of $2,222,234, South Central $1 million and Byron $1.5 million.

The anomalies were Burlington, with an increase of $120,383 with slight increases in each taxing district; and Hyattville with an increase of $183,193, mostly due to the bentonite increase.

For the first time in three years, the town of Basin was not the only municipality to drop in valuation. This year Basin dropped by $228,252 with drops in state assessed valuation industries of rural telephone, municipal electric, major telecommunication and cable satellite companies.

Greybull had the largest drop of $1,168,831. Anderson said in 2012, New Era Petroleum (formerly Rockwell) reported most of its production in the town of Greybull taxing district and this year most of the production, thus most of its valuation was outside the town.

Frannie ($44,157), Lovell ($103,233) and Manderson ($9,303) also saw decreases in valuation.

Increasing in valuation were Burlington, Byron, Cowley and Deaver.

Anderson said in regard to local valuation, which increased $469,650 to $96,227,251, her office saw an increase in the business property claimed by ag businesses and other businesses. “I guess that speaks well of the economy. People were buying equipment,” Anderson said.

Local assessed valuation also includes ag land, residential, commercial and the property used to make money for the commercial, ag and business properties.