GarCo assessor defends O&G relations: ‘I’m just one of the boys’

Typically the gig of county assessor is not an elected position that gets much pub. It’s a number-crunching position that a lot of voters – even property owners – have a hard time getting too excited about.

In the “Gas Patch” or Garfield County, however, where truly big bucks are stake when it comes to assessing and taxing the property values of the oil and gas industry, the assessor job, which reportedly pays $72,000 a year, is seen as slightly more important than in the rest of the state.

Republican Realtor Jim Yellico of Glenwood Springs is taking on incumbent Democrat John Gorman for the four-year term, promising to “improve relations” between the Garfield County Assessors Office and the oil and gas industry, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Gorman characterized his relationship with the industry as “wonderful” despite ongoing special audits that have netted the county more than $6 million from oil and gas companies that underreported their assets. Yellico has said he will continue those audits.

“I’m just like one of the boys …,” Gorman told the Post Independent. “I’m getting treated a lot better — more friendly, more respect. We’re getting more information, faster. It’s made it easier on us and the industry.”

Gorman this fall reported tax revenues for the county would be off by 30 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, mostly due to a sharp drop in assessed property value for the industry, which is in a slump brought on by stagnant natural gas prices.