ALLEGANY, N.Y. — Town of Allegany officials confirmed Thursday that an oil well parcel operated by Dimes Energy on West Branch and Four Mile roads has been ongoing with production since 2018 and had a total assessment of $1,535,232 at the end of 2019.

The drilling process by Dimes in those areas has come under scrutiny over the past few months following a Nov. 18 house explosion on West Branch Road. The explosion of Ron and Betty Jo Volz’s home is suspected by some residents to be linked to Dimes’ recently drilled oil wells near the house.

The town has no authority over the issuing of permits, overseeing Dimes’ operation or recent investigations into its drilling operation. Instead, the Department of Environmental Conservation is the agency responsible for all matters involving Dimes’ oil well drilling. This includes the recent suspension of drilling in the immediate area of the drilling while the investigation is ongoing.

Diana Piccioli, town comptroller, said the assessment of the oil well parcel owned by Dimes was approved by the town’s Board of Assessment Review, which was attended by Dimes’ attorney, Eric Firkel.

Piccioli said Dimes’ assessment wasn’t figured into the town’s current tax base as the town’s 2020 budget had been finalized in October.

Supervisor Jim Hitchcock said Dimes’ assessment, and resulting taxes, will eventually help the town’s tax base, as do other business assessments in the town.

“We get revenue from other old wells” in the town, as well, Hitchcock explained.

Bobbi Elderkin, town assessor, said she had been informed by the DEC that the first three years of operation by wells on Dimes’ parcel should provide the most oil production. Additionally, she noted the land where the Dimes’ oil wells are located had no assessed value prior to the oil operation.

“Literally it was zero and now it’s $1.5 million” in full market value, Elderkin said of the parcel. “Dimes turns in their production to me and the state gives us the value per barrel, that’s how we came up (with the assessment.) That will vary from year to year.”

Elderkin said she hasn’t been provided with the number of wells located near the West Branch and Four Mile roads.

Dimes officials had reported that the company expects to drill up to 400 oil wells over the next few years from the Four Mile and West Branch roads to Chipmonk Road and Nichols Run.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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