NW Colorado group resists tax increase | PostIndependent.com

NW Colorado group resists tax increase

The Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado on Wednesday kicked off a campaign to ask the Colorado Legislature not to raise the state energy severance tax. While no bill has been proposed in the Colorado Legislature, the campaign hopes to get ahead of the eight-ball by starting its "Raise Revenue Not Rates" campaign now.

"We think the discussion is already open and we want to get ahead of it," Executive Director Bonnie Petersen said.

The organization hopes to show that an increased severance tax is not in Garfield County and the rest of northwest Colorado's best interest. Their best interest is to grow energy production over the long term.

"If we make it tougher for companies to come here, I don't think that's a smart move," Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said. "There are many ways to get competitive, but one is to increase production."

Samson joined several local elected officials from Garfield, Moffat and Mesa counties at the AGNC Office in Rifle on Wednesday to discuss their view of what an increased severance tax would mean to their communities.

Among the primary reasons given for wanting to increase production rather than increase the severance tax is to keep the oil and gas money where it belongs, in the communities most affected by production.

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"It seems to me that rural Colorado produces the gas and Denver decides how to spend it," said Moffat County Commissioner Ray Beck. "Raising the severance tax instead of increasing production would be the wrong move."

Another reason to avoid raising the energy severance tax is a growing fear among those in the room Wednesday that oil and gas companies will choose to set up shop in competing markets rather than continue to pay increased rates in Colorado.

Samson pointed to the fact that Colorado is already competing with Arkansas, Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and other states for energy development investments.

Petersen said that the next step for the AGNC will be to remain vocal and to monitor what's going on at the Legislature, and to work with lawmakers to help them see how the policies they enact affect communities in northwest Colorado.