Five oil companies, one with appeals dating back to 1991, have successfully launched yet another round of tax protests for the repayment of state assessed property taxes they say they overpaid to Duchesne County.

County commissioners recently received notices from the State Tax Commission informing them they owe $88,401 in refunds to clear their "debts" with the five companies.Duchesne County will have to come up with approximately 20 percent of the total price tag, while the Duchesne County School District will have to pay the lion's share of the back taxes. Other taxing entities in the county would also have to dig into their budgets to rebate a portion of the back tax payments.

After the incorporation of a new method for assessing oil and gas properties approximately four years ago - which combined with other factors resulted in close to a 50 percent decline in the tax base - Duchesne County officials believed they were nearing the end of the tax repayments mandated by the Tax Commission. But continuing claims of unfair property tax assessments by oil and gas companies, while easing off, have yet to come to a complete stop.

Although the state sets the property values on central or state assessed property such as oil and gas property, utilities and airlines, the county is the benefactor. Over the past four years, Duchesne County has had to repay more than $548,000 in back taxes.

Commission Chairman Larry Ross says before the latest tax adjustments are paid by the county, officials want to make sure the appeals are correct. Bill Peters, an attorney with the Utah Association of Counties has been asked by commissioners to review the list.

But even then Ross said he doesn't anticipate the county will launch its own appeal in an effort to fight the Tax Commission's order to return the money. He said the appeal dating back to 1991 by Zinke and Trumbo for $12,948 really caught their attention and commissioners expect some answers on a few of the tax adjustments which have been granted.

Flying J Oil & Gas, Chevron Pipeline Co. and Phoenix Hydrocarbons each appealed a portion of their 1993 taxes. Flying J successfully appealed $35,555 in back tax payments, and Chevron Pipeline wants a rebate of $31,534. Phoenix Hydrocarbons is expecting $898 in 1993 tax payments to be returned.

In 1994, Held By Production appealed the payment of $7,465 in taxes it believes were unfairly assessed.