Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Property Tax Rate Remains Intact

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Property Tax Rate Remains Intact

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Board of Equalization decided not to decide Thursday on Gov. David Walters's proposal to raise the property tax rate on pipelines and utilities in response to a state Supreme Court decision in the board's favor.

The lack of action means the tax rate, at least for now, on public service corporations that are not railroads or airlines will remain at 22.85 percent.

More than 100 spectators packed the governor's conference room for the half-hour special meeting of the equalization board.

Walters called the special meeting to discuss rolling the tax rate back to its 1991 level of 26.15 percent after the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week decided in favor of the equalization board in a suit brought by Williams Natural Gas Co. and its pipeline and telecommunications affiliates.

In that suit, Williams protests public service corporations being taxed at a higher rate than airlines and railroads.

The federal government opened the issue years ago when it allowed airlines and railroads to be assessed differently from other public utility companies. The Oklahoma Legislature followed suit in 1990 by passing a law creating an airline and railroad subclass within the public service company ad valorem category.

Previously in Oklahoma public service companies were assessed at around 26 percent, while other properties were assessed at 11 percent to 14 percent. With the law change, the state Board of Equalization lowered the assessment ratio on airlines and railroads to fall within the 11 percent to 14 percent range.

But the assessment ratio on other public service companies, such as oil pipelines and utilities, stayed at its higher rate, which in 1991 was 26.15 percent.

When public service companies protested, the equalization board agreed to lower the amount of business growth subject to assessment on the public service companies, thereby lowering their taxes to around 24 percent in 1992 and to 22.85 percent in 1993.

This year, had it used the same standard, the equalization board would have lowered rates to 21.95 percent.

But some schools and counties, which get their money from property taxes, protested.

The equalization board decided to keep the assessment ratio on public service companies at 22. …

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