By CASEY JUNKINS
WHEELING, W.Va. - Increases in oil and natural gas production continue providing more property tax revenue for Northern Panhandle counties, with Wetzel County scheduled to collect more than $24 million from the industry during tax year 2016.
Overall, West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association Executive Director Anne Blankenship said producers such as Southwestern Energy Co., Antero Resources, Chevron, Statoil, Stone Energy, Noble Energy, Consol Energy, and others across the Mountain State are on pace to pay more than $134 million in property taxes for 2016.
"The rise in natural gas and oil production over the past several years is benefiting West Virginians," Blankenship said.
"All counties in the state receive gas tax monies and those counties where natural gas and oil production is growing have really seen a windfall.
"Those funds are going for school improvements and to provide services to residents of the counties and municipalities," Blankenship said.
According to Blankenship, counties are scheduled to receive these amounts of property tax for 2016:
Marshall - $14.9 million;
Ohio - $9 million;
Tyler - $7.3 million;
Brooke - $5 million; and
Hancock - $7,818.
"Property tax collections for Doddridge County in 2015 totaled $8,117,515, the fifth largest amount of all counties in the state," Blankenship said.
"However, 2016 oil and gas property tax assessments for Doddridge County are projected to be just over $20 million, the second highest total in the state behind only Wetzel County," Blankenship said.
Doddridge County Assessor Dave Sponaugle said the total assessed values for the county have significantly increased in recent years.
"This increase has been a direct result of the development of the Marcellus Shale. The tax revenues generated from these values are distributed by the tax rate which funds the school system and various county agencies," he said.
Association President Maribeth Anderson said the taxes the industry pays provide counties a boost they otherwise would not receive.
"In addition to the property tax values based on production, gas producing counties receive significant monies from property taxes on other industry segments, like pipelines, compressor stations, extraction and fractionalization facilities," she said. "The total property tax impact of the oil and natural gas industry is helping our counties grow and thrive, particularly at this time with the state facing a budget shortfall."