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County leases mineral rights

Garfield County is cashing in, if only modestly, on the natural gas boom. Recently, the county commissioners received applications for three county mineral rights leases from EnCana Oil and Gas. The leases are for mineral rights under county roads 300 and 306 and 0.09 acres in Grass Mesa on land deeded to the county. Payments for the leases range from $100 for the 0.09 acres to $500 for County Road 306.”These are pretty typical. We get approached to lease minerals under old roads,” said county gas auditor Doug Dennison. “We got a whole bunch in the last month or so.”County administrator Ed Green said that while most of the county’s mineral rights underlie its roads, some rights have been acquired through land sales for delinquent taxes.”Most of them are worthless pieces of land that we can’t use otherwise,” Green said.Royalties from those leases amount to about $100,000, he said.Garfield County does profit from the gas industry in other ways, however.This year the county received an extra $3.5 million in revenue from increased gas production. Of that, $1 million has been earmarked to cover county studies of the impacts of the industry including air and water quality and cumulative impacts. About $2 million will go to fund various county road projects.”We’re doing this in accordance with the focus group results,” Green said. Focus group meetings last year gave citizens a chance to voice their main concerns in the county. Road maintenance and impacts of the gas industry were at the top of the list.In 2004, the county received a total of $5.2 million in tax revenues from the gas industry. This year, it will take in $8.35 million, including $7.9 million in property taxes on gas production equipment, well pads and property; $120,000 in severance tax; and $250,000 in royalties from federal minerals leases within the county, Green said.In 2004, gas revenues were 10 percent of the county’s total taxes. In 2005, that number jumped to 17 percent, Green said. “It’s not a huge windfall,” he said.”Schools get by far the biggest chunk of oil and gas revenues,” he said, which is allocated by the state.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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