County plans to refund $1.8 million to Western Refining in taxes

County has 45 days to return money

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso County has 45 days to return nearly $1.8 million to Western Refining. If it doesn't return the money, interest can be assessed.

The Central Appraisal District moved the evaluation of Western Refining to $780 million this year, the equivalent of a nearly 300 percent rise in evaluation. It also would have raised the companies' county taxes by more than $1 million compared to the previous year.

Western Refining fought back, and sought to lower the evaluation. According to El Paso county auditors, the battle looked like it was heading for court. Instead, a judgement was made that raised the value of Western Refining by roughly $40 million, a far cry from the initial $420 million raise in evaluation.

Earlier this year, Western Refining spokesman Gary Hanson told ABC-7 that the appraisal ended up about where the company thought it would and it will remain the same, at $320 million, for this year as well.

As a result, the county will now pay back $1,798,593.74.

Other taxing entities were hit much harder. The city of El Paso was missed out collecting an additional $3 million. The El Paso Independent School District would have made an additional $5.3 million had the new appraisal passed through.

The county judge said the pushback was expected before the taxes were ever collected, however, county leaders were quick to point out that they did receive more tax money from the business despite the large amount that will be given back.

"I just don't want people to think we're poo-pooing $1.8 million," said Commissioner Dan Haggerty, stating that the county was in a better position than previous years financially.

Auditors stated that the county has $50.3 million in their reserve account. This rebate will take them beneath $50 million, but will still equal an amount more than 10 percent of their annual operating budget.

"All in all, the county is in good shape," said Wallace Hardgrove, a county auditor.

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