Agreement will allow GarCo audits to continue

Garfield County audits of Williams Production RMT for the 2002 tax year will continue into next year.

The energy company and Garfield County commissioners have agreed to the arrangement. The company will receive additional time to respond to the gas production and personal property audits and won’t claim a statute of limitations defense during that time, county Assessor John Gorman said. The extension runs through Aug. 31.

Gorman contends ongoing audits of Williams for multiple tax years could result in millions of dollars in additional tax collections.

The county normally has only six years to audit property for tax assessment purposes, Gorman said. The county began the 2002 tax year audits with Williams within that time frame, but the company hasn’t provided all the necessary information in a timely fashion, he said.

The county could have challenged a statute of limitations claim in court, Gorman said, but it wanted to avoid a potentially lengthy legal battle.

Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said the company appreciates the extension. She said the employee in charge of compiling the records suffered a lengthy illness, contributing to the delay.

“He’s back and fully engaged and so I don’t think recently there has been any difficulty in obtaining records. It’s just that they’re very detailed and technical, and we want to make sure they are right,” she said.

She said Williams has no knowledge of significant underpayments on its part.

“We’ve always wanted to pay our fair share of taxes. It’s obviously in our best interest to do that,” she said.

The personal property tax audits of Williams and other energy companies began under Gorman’s predecessor, Shannon Hurst. Gorman ousted Hurst in the 2006 election, largely based on a campaign contention that the gas industry was getting away with underreporting gas production for tax purposes.


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