NCWV counties benefit from oil and gas property tax revenues

CLARKSBURG — Two North Central West Virginia counties had some of the state’s highest amounts of property tax revenues from oil and gas production in 2017, according to information from the West Virginia Division of Tax & Revenue.

Doddridge County generated $15,165,626 — the second highest of any county — and Harrison County generated $8,846,064.

In total, West Virginia counties will receive more than $98 million from property tax revenues related to oil and gas production from 2017, which will fund local school systems, vital community services and improvement projects.

Ron Watson, Harrison County commissioner, said more than 70 percent of the county’s more than $8.8 million will go toward the Harrison County school system.

The remaining funds will go into the county’s general operating budget, Watson said.

“We’re able to use them for whatever the greater need is,” he said.

These needs include funding the operations of the North Central Regional Jail — which has an annual budget of more than $2 million, Watson said.

Some of the funds could be used for the County Commission’s upcoming projects, Watson said.

“We have a judicial annex on the table — which may have a price tag of around $20 million,” he said. “We’ve also got the 911 Center — which will cost several million dollars.”

High levels of oil and gas production have directly benefited the Harrison County area over the past decade, Watson said.

“We’ve been a very fortunate county with our spending and our use of funds,” he said. “Some counties are destitute, but we’re a little better off financially.”

The industry also has had an enormous secondary impact on the area, Watson said.

“Not only from revenues, but look at the boost to the economy with the jobs,” he said. “The people who live around here who have these jobs are putting money back into the local economy, so just like any other big business, oil and gas is having a positive economic impact.”

Marc Monteleone, president of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, said the year-end tax revenue numbers from around the state reflect a healthy industry that is expected to continue growing.

“These tax numbers indicate that the West Virginia oil and gas industry is strong,” he said. “If the pipeline projects proceed and prices improve, this industry can provide long-term, good-paying jobs for future generations of West Virginians.”

Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association, said property tax revenues from oil and gas play an important role in local economies around the state.

“The property taxes resulting from oil and gas production in West Virginia will go right back to our counties and local communities throughout the state,” she said. “Many of those monies are used for schools and other community projects.”

These revenues only represent a fraction of the impact the oil and gas has on the state’s economy as a whole, Blankenship said.

“These numbers are only part of the story as it only includes property tax receipts from production and not the other sectors of the industry, nor does it represent the millions of dollars paid in severance taxes,” she said.

As oil and gas production continues to increase in the state — especially with the upcoming Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline projects — the amount of yearly property tax collected is expected to continue growing, Blankenship said.

“We anticipate these numbers to increase in coming years as production increases and the industry grows — providing even more benefits to our counties and local communities,” she said.

This article was written by Charles Young for the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram. Click here to read it on the publication's website.