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County tax base nears $1 billion again

County tax base nears $1 billion again

Feb 29, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

A spike in oil production is primarily responsible for driving Fremont County's total assessed valuation to roughly $984 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fremont County Assessor Tara Berg and Treasurer Scott Harnsberger provided the government's financial picture to commissioners Feb. 28 as they prepare budget outlines in the coming months.

The anticipated assessed valuation of $983.8 million is up from $951.3 million, but in a memo to commissioners, Berg and Harnsberger warned the following fiscal year will include an anticipated drop to about $934 million.

"Our projections are based on numerous assumptions and thus the actual assessed value may differ significantly from the projected amounts," according to their memo.

The assessed valuation is an important determination of revenue the county government and other entities receive from mill levies they assess through taxes derived from property, especially gas and oil production.

Although figures show the assessed valuation related to the county's gas production falling to $283.7 million in the upcoming fiscal year from $315 million, oil production is climbing to $277 million from $229.6 million.

The projected figures for gas production not only in the upcoming fiscal year but also the following years takes into account anticipated stagnant prices and sales volumes.

"The oil and gas volumes for the fiscal year 2013 projection are based on statistics from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. We based future year projections on our own estimates using historical information and discussions with industry leaders," according to the memo.

Harnsberger and Berg also used the Wyoming government revenue forecast, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group report, released in January that covers 2011 through 2015.

The certified assessed valuation for the upcoming fiscal year 2013 will be available in mid-June, according to their memo.

The fluctuation of Fremont County's assessed valuation matches the ebb and flow of energy production in the area. Assessed valuations for a particular fiscal year are based on activity occurring in the previous term.

The county's assessed valuation includes $1.08 billion in fiscal year 2007, $968 million in 2008, $820 million in 2009, $1.07 billion in 2010, $764 million in 2011 and about $950 million for this year ending June 30.

In other sections of the county's assessed valuation, Berg noted that various land uses are seeing increases in worth. "Agricultural land has been steadily increasing" because of hay sales, she said.

Rising assessed valuations for residential properties are because of "new homes, new subdivisions, not necessarily the market that increased that much," Berg said.

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