Funds make the county a little richer
Garfield County as a whole, including the towns and counties within it, will be getting a total of more than $19.5 million in state severance tax revenues and mineral lease fees, according to the State of Colorado.
The disbursement is part of more than $80 million handed out by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which oversees the distribution of funds collected from energy companies for mineral extraction activities around the state.
Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien called the amount “unprecedented,” and Gov. Bill Ritter declared, “I am proud that we were able to protect these direct distribution funds even when closing a $1.8 billion budget shortfall” for the state overall.
The total includes $44.5 million in severance tax funds and $35.9 million in mineral lease fees. By comparison, last year’s total distribution came to $24.7 million in severance taxes and $8 million in mineral lease fees, according to the DLA.
The amount is meant to compensate counties, towns and school districts for impacts from mineral development in their areas, and reflects a new method of calculating how those funds are distributed, according to the DLA. Enabling legislation passed last year, in part through the efforts of State Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village), who co-sponsored the Senate version of the bills.
“I am thrilled to see local communities receive this funding,” she said in a prepared statement. “This funding will go a long way in helping communities” feeling the effects of energy development and of the current economic downturn.
According to figures released by the state, Garfield County is to receive more than $11.6 million, followed by Rifle with nearly $2.5 million (see related story), Glenwood Springs with approximately $1.3 million, Parachute with $1.2 million, Carbondale with $846,684, New Castle with $642,252, and Silt with $337,309. Basalt was given just over $1,700.
Among the local school districts, the Garfield Re-2 District is to receive $453,720, the Roaring Fork School District Re-1 is to receive $377,179, and the Garfield 16 (Parachute) district is to get $128,400.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.