Severance tax revenues up for Garfield County |

Severance tax revenues up for Garfield County

The work of a severance tax task force paid off this month for Garfield County.The group convened earlier this year to look at how state mineral severance taxes are distributed.Garfield and Mesa counties were the largest beneficiaries of the distribution, with Garfield and its municipalities garnering $3.8 million and Mesa $5.6 million. The two counties are the epicenters of natural gas development in the state. Both saw significant increases this year over last. In 2005, Garfield saw $2.1 million in revenue and Mesa $2.8 million.Last year the Department of Local Affairs, the state agency that distributes revenues from severance taxes, convened a task force to look at distribution procedures after local governments in northwest Colorado expressed concern over their decreasing revenues from severance and federal mineral lease taxes and over DOLA’s plan to hand out revenues to all counties in the state, not just those affected by mineral development.Severance tax distribution is based on the number of energy-related employees in an affected area.Garfield County, with one of the highest numbers of oil and gas workers in the state, saw a decline from $2.7 million in 2004 to $2.1 million in 2005.The task force established a 45-day “cure” period in which any government can lodge a complaint, which is reviewed and resolved by an oversight committee composed of representatives of local government, the oil and gas industry, coal mining and DOLA. Previously there was no remedy if a local government detected an error in DOLA calculations.DeBeque, which received no severance tax income in 2005, received $155,000 this year.Overall, the department of local affairs distributed $17 million statewide from the severance tax fund. “We saw an increase more in mineral leasing than severance tax,” said Juanita Satterfield, Parachute town manager. “What we gained in employee counts was offset by the per capita number.”The tax pot is divided according to a fixed amount per employee. “For every employee counted the per capita goes down,” she said. Garfield County was happy with its severance tax revenue.”We have a pleasant dilemma,” said Garfield County manager Ed Green. “What do we want to do with the money?” After some discussion the county commissioners agreed to place most of the money – $2.3 million – into the capital projects fund.Overall, Satterfield, who sits on the oversight committee, was pleased with the results of the review of severance tax reports this year.”I think the counts were more accurate this year,” she said. “We worked hard on it.” Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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