BY ROBERT MORALES
Property values in Culberson County have slowly been rising for the last few years; however, the mineral valuations in the county have soared by almost 50 percent just between 2012 and 2014.
The Culberson County Appraisal District manages the property assessments for all local taxing entities, including: Culberson County, Town of Van Horn, Culberson County-Allamoore Independent School District, Culberson County Hospital District and Culberson County Groundwater Conservation District.
The Town of Van Horn and the Groundwater District are assessed separately because the Town encompasses only those properties within the city limits and the Groundwater District does not include the entire county. For example, when a citizen pays taxes, one bill is for the Town of Van Horn and the Groundwater District.
Another tax bill covers the county, the school and the hospital district.
Maricel Gonzalez, Chief Appraiser for the Culberson County Appraisal District (CCAD), told the Advocate that various methods are used to assess property values for real and personal property and for minerals. The CCAD handles real and personal property valuations while the more complex mineral valuations are managed by Pritchard & Abbott, Texas-based valuation consultants that have done this work for CCAD for decades.
Looking at the numbers provided by Ms. Gonzalez, in 2012, real and personal property was assessed at $99,610, 600. In 2013, real and personal property was evaluated at $102,421,080 and in 2014, real and personal property was assessed at $104,660,260. This represents a 9.5-percent increase in real and personal properties in Culberson County between 2012 and 2014.
The valuations for minerals in Culberson County between 2012 and 2014 paint a much different picture. In 2012, minerals were assessed at $223,521,900; $264,972,970 in 2013 and $460,389,430 in 2014. The values represent the certified tax rolls to be collected by the taxing entities. It does not mean that the taxing entities have actually collected these amounts because of delinquencies and other factors.
“This is a significant jump in mineral valuations,â€ said Ms. Gonzalez. “We will likely see another increase when Pritchard & Abbott does its 2015 valuations in late December or January.â€
Pritchard & Abbott tax consultants make a visit to the outlying parts of the county and take note of any new physical facility or any additional equipment that a company has installed since the last taxing year. It could be viewed as taking an inventory, but in a much more detailed manner.
The substantial increase in mineral assessments can be traced to the increased oil and gas activity in northeast Culberson County. As long as the oil and gas companies continue to invest their resources in Culberson County, the mineral valuations can continue to escalate, as it has already happened in Reeves County.
What does this mean for the average taxpayer? Not much. Tax rates for the average citizens have actually decreased slightly over the past three years. In most cases, the higher the valuation, the lower the tax rate.