County: Contact reps

Published 1:49 am Monday, January 28, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
Escambia County officials are encouraging area residents to contact legislators about enacting a law that could have an effect on the financial future of the state - and the county.
A case that remains before a judge in circuit court in Mobile County stands to cost Escambia County, and other counties, millions of dollars in revenues if that judge favors Exxon Mobil Corporation in the current battle.
Current laws governing the way oil and gas severance taxes are figured are responsible for seeing the current case in the courts.
The decision by the judge in the case could mean millions of dollars for either the State of Alabama or Exxon Mobile Corporation, Sanks said.
Last week, Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom issued a request to the citizens of Alabama encouraging calls to local legislators to join the fight to have current laws changed.
Although the value tax versus volume tax law has been addressed before, there was not enough interest by legislators to seek a change.
Exxon Mobil currently pays a value tax based on the value of the fuel they pump at the wellhead. The nearly $4 million in refunds requested by the company from Escambia County are funds being sought based on a work-back method that allows the cost of production, including direct and indirect costs to be considered in the amount of taxes paid to counties.
An order was issued in late October by Bill Thompson, chief administrative law judge in a Montgomery court favoring Exxon Mobile. That order is being appealed by the Alabama Department of Revenue and is being reviewed in Mobile County circuit Court, where Exxon Mobile lists its base of operations.
If either party appeals the decision, the case would then be heard at the State Supreme Court level, Sanks said.
A change in the law would certainly be a benefit to the citizens of Escambia County as well as the entire state, Sanks said.
Legislators serving Escambia County are Representatives Alan Baker, Seth Hammett and Harry Shiver and Senator Pat Lindsey.