By David Martin

County seeks money through audits


August 16, 2017

In an attempt to secure additional funding to the county, the Sweetwater County Commissioners agreed to contract with a Cheyenne-based consulting firm to audit oil and gas production figures reported to the state.

Ron Thowbridge of Thowbridge Consulting approached the commissioners during their meeting Tuesday morning, explaining how he could bring additional revenue to the county. Thowbridge said he seeks underreported oil and gas production figures by auditing records submitted to state agencies, If he finds a company has underreported their production amount, the company could be liable for taxes based on the unreported amount during the time period it was produced. For example, if a company claims it produced 2,000 barrels of oil in 2012 and an audit discovers the company produced 3,000 barrels, the company would need to pay taxes based on the 1,000 barrels not reported at the value of the oil when it was produced.

Thowbridge said most companies conduct their own audit to determine if they underreported and if so, usually agree to pay the additional taxes, which are then divided through the mill levies in place in Sweetwater County. Thowbridge admits some companies will fight the results of an audit to avoid paying and said attempting to get tax payments from defunct companies would be nearly impossible.

Thowbridge’s goal is to perform production audits for the next five years for Sweetwater, Uinta, Lincoln and Sublette Counties. The contract the commissioners agreed to discuss would pay Thowbridge $30,000 up front and once the county recouped that amount, would then collection 10 percent off the top of whatever was collected afterward. For example, after the county earns back the initial $30,000, if Thowbridge’s work results in $100,000 collected, he would earn $10,000 and the remaining $90,000 would be distributed throughout the county. The audits would need to recover a total of $187,000 to pay back the $30,000 initially paid by the county for Thowbridge’s services.

“It’s a great living for him, but it’s money we wouldn’t have,” Sweetwater County Treasurer Robb Slaughter, said.


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