Area counties and independent school districts were pleasantly surprised this month, receiving a boost from the top industry in Texas.

In a Jan. 11 release detailing the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA)’s Annual Energy & Economic Impact Report for the 2020 fiscal year, it was noted that the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid $13.9 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in the year. The billions in funding will go directly to support Texas schools, teachers, roads, infrastructure and essential services. Of the funds, millions were able to make their way to support Goliad area services and organizations.

“Even in an extremely difficult year, the Texas oil and natural gas industry continues to contribute tremendously to state and local tax coffers, while fortifying our energy security and leading the way in innovation and investment that is advancing environmental progress,” said TXOGA President Todd Staples. “The ongoing recovery of the oil and natural gas industry is essential to the state’s continuing economic improvement.”

Funding for many of the area’s counties and school districts were improved from TXOGA payouts received in 2018 and 2019, a rare positive sign in a Texas economy wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While oil prices plummeted in the wake of the pandemic, the need for products made from oil and natural gas skyrocketed,” Staples said. “Nearly every in-demand product we need to be safe, to save lives and to power our economy - from face shields and hand sanitizers to high-speed internet connections and computers - is made possible by oil and natural gas.”

The revenue from oil and natural gas tax and royalties is used to support essentials such as education, transportation and healthcare through the Economic Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund), the Permanent School Fund (PSF) and the Permanent University Fund (PUF). These programs are funded almost exclusively with taxes and state royalties paid by the oil and natural gas industry.

In total, Texas counties received $688.4 million in property taxes, a large jump from the past two fiscal years. In the 2018 fiscal year, the payment to counties was $366.5 million, while the 2019 fiscal year payment was $398.7 million. Goliad and Refugio counties both took in at least a million dollars more than the 2019 fiscal year payout.

Starting with Goliad County, the county received $1.2 million from the oil and natural gas industry in the 2020 fiscal year, accounting for 18.2 percent of the county’s tax base. The county had taken in just $500,000 combined over 2018 and 2019, with the payout of $200,000 in fiscal year 2019 accounting for only 2.9 percent of the tax base.

Refugio County relies a bit more heavily on oil and natural gas payouts, with the $2.9 million received accounting for 44.3 percent of the county’s tax base. The $2.9 million figure is nearly double that of the $1.5 million paid out from fiscal year 2019, when the payment accounted for 25.6 percent of the tax base.

For the 2020 fiscal year, Texas ISDs received more than $2 billion in property taxes from mineral properties producing oil and natural gas, pipelines, and gas utilities. This figure has steadily grown over the past several years, going from $1.24 billion in payments in 2018 to $1.54 billion in 2019, followed by cracking the $2 billion mark for 2020.

Goliad ISD saw its payout increase by $400,000 in 2020, taking in $1.9 million from the industry (18.6 percent of the ISD tax base). This is the first increase in several years for the district, seeing its number hold steady at $1.5 million during 2018 and 2019 payouts.

Oil and natural gas taxes have taken a bigger chunk of the Refugio ISD tax base each year, with 2020 being no exception. The 2020 fiscal year payout for the district was $2.2 million, a 42.2 percent slice of the tax base (increased from a 33.3 percent chunk in 2018). 

The other ISDs in the Refugio area, Woodsboro and Austwell-Tivoli, are at opposite ends in reliance on oil and natural gas tax payouts. Woodsboro’s 2020 payout was $700,000, accounting for 17.1 percent of the ISD’s tax base. Austwell-Tivoli, on the other hand, saw 74.4 percent of the tax base taken up by the state’s $2.8 million payment.

Healthy payouts to counties and ISDs throughout Texas was a positive sign that Staples would like to keep going, as evidenced in his report’s three-part “Roadmap to Recovery” that would “drive greater investment in all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry that will power Texas’ economic recovery and provide critical state and local tax revenue every Texan needs.”

This policy urges lawmakers to do the following:

-Ensure continued, responsible development of the essential energy infrastructure that is needed to meet the demands of a booming population;

-Embrace tax policy such as renewing Chapter 313, which attracts investments and jobs to Texas, and;

-Maintain commitment to a science-based policy and rational discussions related to environmental issues, with leading oil and natural gas innovators at the table.

“Smart policies will encourage investment in and innovation by the oil and natural gas industry and will power us toward the cleaner, stronger, and better future every Texan deserves,” he said.

•tleffler@mysoutex.com•

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