Chino Valley Unified School District was lucky, one of its officials said, in figuring out how to pay back its portion of a $15 million statewide lawsuit settlement to a natural gas pipeline company.
Chino Valley - along with many school districts, college districts, counties and other entities that collect property tax - owes a portion of what state courts awarded to Transwestern Pipeline Company. The company claimed the Arizona Department of Revenue and seven counties in the state miscalculated the tax assessment for the property where the company installed a pipeline through Arizona.
The pipeline basically runs through seven counties in Arizona, including Yavapai County, along parts of Interstate-40, connecting Texas with California.
Chino Valley's school district owes $108,000 as their share, but will receive a $100,000 reimbursement for increases in the "school equalization," a formula for funding school districts. Chino Valley requested that the State recalculate the district's state aid for fiscal years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Chino's Support Services Director John Scholl said he worked with the Yavapai County Assessor's Office, Arizona Department of Education, and the State Treasurer's Office to figure out how to repay the settlement. He explained the repayment process to school board members at their Monday night meeting, and they unanimously voted for the plan.
"For us, we have no control over any of this; we have to deal with it," Scholl said after the meeting.
Scholl is matter-of-fact when it comes to the Transwestern lawsuit.
"No one is to blame," Scholl said. "If they weren't taxed right, they need to get that money back. In the long run, we were very lucky." He was referring to both the school district as well as Chino Valley taxpayers, who paid the higher property tax already and will not have to pay an additional amount.