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Hermiston gas plant devaluation knocks $934,000 off county tax rolls

Umatilla County loses about 1 percent of total assessed value.
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on October 26, 2017 12:01AM

Last changed on October 26, 2017 9:12PM

The Hermiston Generating Co. power plant on Westland Road had its assessed value lowered by $54 million by the Oregon Department of Revenue.

Staff photo by E.J. Harris

The Hermiston Generating Co. power plant on Westland Road had its assessed value lowered by $54 million by the Oregon Department of Revenue.

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The Oregon Department of Revenue knocked $54 million off the assessed value of the Hermiston Generating Company.

The devaluation means a drop in local property tax revenue of $934,672 for 2017-18, with education taking the brunt of the loss.

Linda Blacklock with the revenue department’s valuation section said strict confidentiality laws prohibit revealing what led to the downgrade at the natural gas plant. The Hermiston Generating Co., 78145 Westland Road, Hermiston, had a real market value of $180 million and an assessed value of nearly $155 million for 2016-17. Blacklock said the plant’s real and assessed values for 2017-18 are each $100 million.

Umatilla County mailed tax bills this week. The power company’s new values show up on its latest tax statement. Paul Chalmers, director of county assessment and taxation, said the devaluation amounts to about 1 percent of the county’s total assessed value.

And the state would not tell him why Hermiston Generating’s value fell, he added.

County tax records show Hermiston Generating paid more than $2.43 million in property taxes for 2016-17, with $900,000 of that for education: $89,877 for the InterMountain Education Service District; $96,520 for Blue Mountain Community College; and $713,602 for the Hermiston School District.

The decrease in the company’s assessed value dropped the portion for the school district to almost $400,000, BMCC’s to about $54,000 and the service district’s to roughly $50,000.

Tricia Mooney, Hermiston schools interim superintendent, said the district planned for growth at about 3 percent, but that’s now down to around 1.9 percent. She said the district will have to address the situation going forward, and it’s too early to say what might result from the revenue decline.

The tax revenue for the Hermiston School District’s bond fell from $626,000 to $411,000, according to tax statements, and other programs and entities took similar hits.

Mosquito control for west Umatilla County stands to lose about $16,000, the Port of Umatilla about $8,400, and county general fund about $155,000.

Bradley Knight, the general manager of the Hermiston Generating Plant, did not return a phone call or email seeking comment for the story.

Chalmers said the latest tax statements will also reflect the following additions:

• Umatilla School District new bond requesting $890,000;

• the bond for Pendleton’s new fire station;

• Stanfield School District’s bond adjustment increase;

• And the first year for the new area of coverage for East Umatilla Health District or Medic 400. Chalmers said the health district now includes Helix, Adams, Athena and Weston and has a rate of $1 per $1,000 of assessed value.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.



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