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The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department (TRD) has taken an interest in the oil and gas property audit being conducted by Total Assessment Solutions Corp. (TASC) on behalf of the Eddy County Office of the Assessor.

Two representatives of the TRD attended the Dec. 14 town hall meeting held by county assessor Gemma Ferguson and TASC oil and gas manager for Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado, Jerry Wisdom.

Bryson Frazier, director of the TRD’s Property Tax Division, had previously drafted a letter to Ferguson, dated Dec. 1, regarding the audit.

In it, Frazier says he understands the position of the assessor’s office and appreciates the work Ferguson does on behalf of the county. Frazier also states, however, that, by statute, it is the state’s responsibility to assess equipment associated with mineral production.

“By this letter, I am informing you,” Frazier writes, “that neither the statute nor the (previous district court) order invests you with any such authority. The Taxation and Revenue Department is vested with the sole responsibility to value this property.”

“The intent of the statute is to ensure uniformity by centrally assessing production equipment operated by companies that often operate across county lines,” State Rep. Jim Townsend and Eddy County Commissioner Jon Henry state in a letter submitted Friday to the Daily Press. “This is not limited to oil and gas, but also other like businesses, such as utilities.”

Townsend and Henry say they agree it is critical to work with all parties – county, state and industry – to ensure fair and equitable practices are in place and taxes are being properly and uniformly assessed and paid.

“A centrally-assessed system managed by the state also relieves the counties of the risk of challenges to equipment assessments and protects the county from potential refunds to private businesses when an assessment is determined to be incorrect,” the two write. “The Property Tax Division, by statute, has supervisory authority over all county assessors.

“As your local representatives to state and county governments, we hope to facilitate a conciliatory and mutually acceptable outcome which would save the county thousands of dollars and the risk associated with lawsuits and potential refunds.”

Frazier says he understands the assessor’s office’s concerns about underreported and unreported property values, and that the state will continue to work with Ferguson in her attempt to capture all taxable value within Eddy County.