Carlton County residents will be partially refunding Northern Natural Gas $517,092 for overpaid taxes in 2016 and 2017.
According to Carlton County Assessor, Kyle Holmes, a few of the cases filed in the Minnesota Tax Court are finalized, including Northern Natural Gas. The county is responsible for about 50% of the total; schools are responsible for about 17%; 7% to local jurisdictions; and 25% is the state's responsibility. Officials will receive their notice next week about how much is owed.
How the money is repaid is up to each entity.
“If they want, they can adjust their levy to make up the refund,” Holmes said. “This would raise taxes.” He said paying out of their reserves is another option and would not raise residents' taxes.
The good news is that the county has money in its general reserves to refund Northern Natural Gas, which means it will not cause taxes to go up for residents.
Great Lakes Transmissions' case has been finalized, and their refund amount is $74,044.
Enbridge Energy Southern Lights Line Pollution Control Exemption will be collecting a refund of $70,125.
About eight years ago, the Minnesota Department of Revenue decided on a formula to find the value amount to assess taxes on several utilities around the state. The companies felt they had been valued too high since 2008 and had been paying higher taxes than they should have been. They went to court to challenge the formula. Several smaller companies have already settled.
Along with the settlement, the company’s future valuations are likely to be lowered, which means they will be contributing less than they have been in past years for property taxes. That means local taxpayers could be paying more to make up the difference.
Every county is affected in some way by the settlements.
Enbridge LP, the largest taxpayer in the county, is pending at this time and should see a ruling in 2020. Enbridge owns the Lakehead oil pipeline system that runs through 13 Minnesota counties.
Counties will owe Enbridge an estimated $2.5 million for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Carlton County’s share is estimated at about $1.1 million. The townships will owe an estimated $200,000; schools, $400,000; and the state about $700,000.
Enbridges 2015-19 still need to be decided, as does 2018-19 for Northern Natural gas. Additional refunds are estimated to be somewhere around $7.5 million-$9 million.
Holmes said Enbridge has said they would be willing to work out a repayment plan, although they have not contacted the county as of yet.