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Several to share pipeline tax money

STEUBENVILLE — Six townships and three school districts will be part of the taxing districts to share in $5 million a year in public utility taxes paid by the Texas Eastern Transmission line.

The pipeline, valued at $84.9 million in Jefferson County alone, runs north to south in the western part of the county.

Texas Eastern Transmission submitted information to the Ohio Department of Taxation stating which taxing districts in the county the pipeline passes through.

But Lewis “Doby” Piergallini, chief deputy county auditor, real estate division, said the information submitted by the Texas Eastern Transmission was incorrect. The error wasn’t discovered until after taxing districts were told by the county auditor’s office how much money each was going to receive annually from the pipeline, he said.

Some taxing districts, such as Richmond, were originally informed they would be getting a share, but now won’t.

Piergallini said the taxing districts were contacted and told not to spend the money, and the county auditor’s office will request money back from some taxing districts because of the mistake.

Piergallini said he called the state taxation department in early April about the error and was met with some resistance from the state taxation department. The information supplied by the company owning the pipeline is considered confidential, and it took six weeks for the error to be corrected, he said.

“Typically our office does not have any input on the valuation of public utility tax assessments; however, in this instance, the Ohio Department of Taxation was willing to work with our office and the (owner of the pipeline) to get the issue resolved in an expedient manner,” he said.

An amended public utility tax assessment was received by the county, Piergallini noted.

The county auditor’s office will hold a meeting at 5 p.m. next Wednesday at the Towers to explain to township trustees, school district officials and other elected officials the amended public utility tax assessment for the pipeline.

Jefferson County’s general fund will receive $157,028; the Developmental Disabilities Board will receive $297,080; and the jail operating levy and 911 system each will get $127,320. The county government overall will receive $1,031,296.

School districts will get about 60 percent of the gas pipeline tax money. Buckeye Local will receive $595,772, Edison Local will receive $1,651,209 and Indian Creek will receive $706,778.

Piergallini noted the extra money is a windfall for the school districts, but the districts also face a decline in tax money from the two power plants in the county in the next several years and the loss in valuation of the Fort Steuben Mall, which impacts Indian Creek.

Piergallini said the county may see the construction of additional large pipelines, resulting in more money for the taxing districts where the pipelines are located.

Jefferson County just now is realizing tax revenue from gas production. Piergallini said the tax on production from oil and gas wells is two years behind. In midsummer, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reports to the county the prior year’s production data, and said that report gives the county some indication how much tax revenue will be received the following year.

Jefferson County in 2016 saw 46,012,135 mcf of natural gas production. Belmont County in 2016 had more than 10 times the amount of gas production, while gas production in Harrison and Carroll counties amounted to just under 200 million mcf.

Piergallini said the county will receive about $360,000 in gas tax money this year, based on 2015 production, which was only 6,748,650 mcf.

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