Chevron not seeking severance tax credits
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Chevron has decided not to seek severance tax credits for its contribution in rebuilding County Road 204 north of DeBeque, according to a recent letter from the company.
The issue of the company receiving severance tax credits for its efforts in improving the road, which leads to the company’s drilling operations in the Piceance Basin, has been the subject of intense political controversy in this year’s county commissioner race between Republican John Martin and Democrat Stephen Bershenyi. Some Democrats have called that project the “Road to Nowhere.”
Michael DeBerry, manager of Chevron’s Piceance operations, wrote a letter to Martin, saying the company would not seek a severance tax credit for its contributions in rebuilding the county road. Those credits would reduce the company’s severance tax bill.
An agreement the county reached with Chevron to make improvements to CR 204 earlier this year, called on the county to support the company’s efforts to receive those severance tax credits. Martin and outgoing Commissioner Larry McCown voted to approve that agreement, while Commissioner Tresi Houpt voted against it.
Houpt has continued to vote against additional issues connected to CR 204 because of the use of severance tax credits for rebuilding the road. She said that agreement was not in the public benefit because the project largely benefits Chevron and that companies should contribute to help improve roads as part of doing business in the county.
Chevron will put forward $25 million for the CR 204 improvement efforts. The county will contribute $3 million, with half of that total coming from a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant.
In his letter, DeBerry wanted to thank Martin and the other commissioners for the agreement the county reached with the company.
“Chevron strives to build productive, collaborative, trusting and beneficial relationships with entities and the communities where it operates,” DeBerry wrote. “This project has proven to be a model for those characteristics.”
However, DeBerry added that some have chosen “to misrepresent this issue and use inaccuracies for political gain.”
“This sort of activity is distasteful and unfair to all parties involved,” DeBerry wrote. “Chevron is committed to funding the reconstruction of CR 204 because it places the highest priority on the health and safety of its workforce and residents of Roan Creek and De Beque.”
Martin said DeBerry’s letter shows that the commission had been working “openly and honestly” in reaching agreement with Chevron for rebuilding of the county road.
“We weren’t trying to deceive anyone,” he said.
He added that Chevron knew it had an uphill battle in receiving the severance tax credit since a pre-approved project, like County Road 204, would likely not qualify for those credits.
Asked about DeBerry’s comments about the rebuilding of the road being used for “for political gain,” Martin said it was obvious the road became a “negative campaign issue.”
“Chevron was upfront and honest with their statement that (the road) is for safety for not only its workforce but the citizens,” he said.
Bershenyi said the letter DeBerry sent to the county ” a justification after the fact.” He said concerns residents had about the project was an issue Chevron “didn’t want out in front of everybody.”
Bershenyi said that a main concern he had about the county’s agreement with Chevron was that if the county encouraged the use of severance tax credits for CR 204, there is a risk the county would not able to use future credits for other projects, such as the Interstate 70 interchange at Parachute.
“It is just a matter that I have different priorities than John does,” Bershenyi said. “My priorities are for the citizens of Garfield County and not the industry.”
Earlier this week, the commissioners signed off on a move to approve a $21.4 million contract to rebuild CR 204.
Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117
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Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or firstname.lastname@example.org