Montana oil refinery to pay $11M to jurisdictions, state

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — An oil refinery in Montana has agreed to pay $11 million in property taxes owed to the state, local governments and schools over the past three years, a newspaper reported.

The settlement agreement signed last month resolves one of the largest property tax disputes in Montana. It involved industrial property owner Calumet Montana Refining in Great Falls and the state Department of Revenue, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

Calumet Montana Refining previously paid $16.9 million in property taxes to the state department that it owed on its properties from 2017 through 2019, officials said. The funds were placed in an escrow fund while the taxes were disputed.

Calumet agreed to pay $11 million in property taxes for the three years, a $5.9 million reduction in its property tax bill after signing the agreement May 15.

About $9.5 million was given to local jurisdictions including the city of Great Falls, Great Falls Public Schools and Cascade County, and $1.5 million was given to the state.

The Department of Revenue agreed to reduce the market value of Calumet’s properties for the timeframe.

The city of Great Falls is expecting to receive $3 million from the settlement, city finance director Melissa Kinzler said, adding that the funds will help the city manage its 2021 budget following an economic downturn amid the pandemic.

Great Falls Public Schools operates on a cash basis determined by the number of students, teachers and buildings, so the funding will be vital to the district, business operations director Brian Patrick said.