Thank you for your follow-up article (“Riding the wave,” Sept. 13 Steamboat Today) to a recent story in Steamboat Today that seemed to say property taxes to the county on undeveloped mineral property rights aren’t that valuable to the community. It’s a bit like saying that a vacant lot won’t be more valuable once a home or business is built on it. When a residential or commercial lot sits vacant, the revenue it generates to Routt County or Steamboat Springs is limited. The same is true with dormant minerals. Just sitting in the ground, oil and gas doesn’t generate much revenue. But once the county allows them to come to the surface, the money starts to flow because the county then collects a new property tax on the oil coming out of the ground
Furthermore, whether a property right is worth $1 or $1 million, it’s still a property right. And I was pleased to hear Routt County Assessor Gary Peterson confirm this fact. I was also pleased to hear Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush agree that Routt County can have balanced oil and gas industry while still protecting other assets.
I thought the first story was disingenuous because it focused on property taxes paid on dormant minerals and failed to mention property taxes on produced oil and gas. I’m glad you went more in depth in the second article to mention the mineral leases bonus, severance tax revenues, sales and use taxes, and energy impact grant monies that Routt County also will receive. Also, as minerals are developed, property tax bases increase because of proven production.
One more piece of this story is the economic impact to the region that will be felt through trickle down from royalty payments and signing bonuses coming into the private sector. These monies will primarily be spent within the county in community businesses. This will increase the positive economic impact within the region that the county citizens will benefit from directly, as well.