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Hewlett-Packard tax decision stings Oregon county

May 21, 2013


By The Associated Press

CORVALLIS — An Oregon Tax Court judge ruled that Hewlett-Packard's campus in Corvallis was overvalued on property tax bills from 2008 until 2011, a decision that could cost Benton County $9.5 million in tax revenue.

The Oregon Department of Revenue prepared the tax assessments. Department spokesman Derrick Gasperini said the agency is still reviewing the opinion and has yet to decide whether to appeal by a mid-June deadline.

The state and Hewlett-Packard Co. placed very different valuations on the 180-acre site. The state, for example, valued the property at $337 million for the 2010-11 tax year. The company said it was worth $204 million.

In his 12-page opinion, Judge Henry Breithaupt's found the testimony of a Department of Revenue appraiser to be “evasive, inconclusive and, at times, actually or seemingly contradictory.”

If the decision stands, the refunded tax payments would affect all of the county's 53 taxing districts, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported Tuesday.

Based on initial estimates by county officials, the city of Corvallis will take the biggest hit at about $2 million, followed by the Corvallis School District at $1.9 million, Benton County government at $1.7 million, Linn-Benton Community College at $385,000, the city of Albany at $373,000, the county library district at $211,000, the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Educational Service District at $176,000, the city of Philomath at $155,000 and the Corvallis Rural Fire District at $126,000.

“To be perfectly honest, we were dumbfounded by this decision,” Benton County Assessor Tami Woodward said. “It wasn't the news we were hoping for.”

Property values at the high-tech campus have dropped since the glory days of Hewlett-Packard's inkjet printer business, which was centered in Corvallis.

The campus expanded quickly from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, growing to about 2 million gross square feet of space in 11 buildings and employing as many as 8,000 people, according to court documents. Many of those jobs have since been outsourced, and much of the space now stands idle or has been leased to other users.

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Information from: Gazette-Times, http://www.gtconnect.com

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