Callie Paxton

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Video: Oil Drilling Increasing Tax Revenue

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) Late last year,  oil companies and the controversial technique called “fracking” created a stir in the Caledonia area of Lowndes County. Since drilling began, complaints about noise, traffic and dust have died down. Now, Lowndes County leaders say the county and area businesses are beginning to see some of the potential benefits.

Drilling at an oil well near Caledonia makes only a low hum to nearby properties.  For Lowndes County, it could mean big revenues. In May, the county’s share of oil severance tax revenues jumped from $2, 038,  and that doesn’t include other revenues associated with the well.

“It’s not only good for people being employed, but they’re spending the night here and they’re buying our food and so the sales tax collections are up and it’s a win-win,” said Harry Sanders, President of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors.

A horizontal well that was built just this spring brought in exponentially more revenue. Now, Fletcher Petroleum is saying that land has potential for more wells to be built bringing jobs into Lowndes County.

“A lot of employment, local employment. We hire local guys around here. People out of Columbus,” said Mike Schreiber, Operations Manager for Fletcher Petroleum.

Preparations are already being made for more wells to be built in the near future. The county has leased property in the hopes that they will one day be used for oil rigs. Although the Legislature this year gave oil companies big tax breaks, the potential revenue for the county runs into the 10′s of thousands of dollars if the wells produce only small amounts of oil.

“There’s a couple of applications for permits in the upcoming oil and gas board meeting in the state down in Jackson,” said Sanders.

The money that has been going into the county’s general fund, meaning taxpayers benefit because the county has more money to spend on everything from road paving to parks and recreation. Locally produced oil could even have an impact far beyond Lowndes County.

“We can depend on our own oil so that helps money stay here in the states,” said Schreiber.

Lowndes County schools also could be huge beneficiaries. Two well permits have been approved for 18th Section lands owned by the county school district.