May 222013

By Julie Wiessner
Transwestern Pipeline has initiated proceedings in a lawsuit that could tap school districts and other entities in Navajo County for up to $1.4 million in reimbursements. The lawsuit stems from tax overpayments Transwestern claims were made to the various entities over the past three years for the pipeline running through those regions.
Holbrook School District officials noted during the May 14 board meeting that if found liable, the district would have to pay the largest refund amount, which could range from $161,400 to $666,994.
Other co-defendants listed in the lawsuit include the Navajo County government, State Equalization, the Winslow School District, Northland Pioneer College, the Fire District Assistance Fund, Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology, and the county Education District, Library District, Flood Control District, and Public Health District, in addition to entities in six other counties in the state.
In planning for the possibility, Holbrook District Business Manager Gary McDowell stated, “There is provision in the school finance formula to increase their budget authority so we don’t have to take money out of our normal day to day services.”
Transwestern Pipeline transports natural gas from the San Juan, Anadarko, Colorado and Permian Basins of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, to markets in the Midwest, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California via approximately 2,700 miles of large diameter pipeline.
While the Holbrook district is facing the largest refund amount, other co-defendants face a wide range of potential refund amounts. The Winslow district has the second highest amount of up to $265,489, followed by NPC, $193,216; Navajo County, $93,093; State Equalization, $65,290; Navajo County Public Health Department, $30,362; Navajo County Education District, $15,849; Fire District Assistance Fund, $15,466; Navajo County Library District, $7,733; NAVIT, $7,282; and Navajo County Flood Control District, $109.
The lawsuit will not go before a judge for another year, but the notification of possible refund amounts was provided in order to allow those entities involved to budget for potential outcomes.