The cost of cattle guards

Steele wants to raise rates for owners, agencies

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Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele thinks people who have cattle guards installed on county roads should pay the actual price of what it costs the county to install them.

He's proposing that the county raise its prices on cattle guards so people having them installed are footing more of the bill.

The county charges ranchers, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Forest Service and any other entities wanting a cattle guard installed on a county road $750.

But it costs the county approximately $2,500 to $3,000 to install the guards, which are used to keep cattle from crossing onto other property across county roads.

In a meeting last week, Steele said he would like the county to charge people the actual cost for the cattle guards, which is $119 per foot.

"I don't see why we should be subsidizing the BLM and other agencies," Steele said.

The commissioners made the decision to reduce the cost to $750 for those having cattle guards installed in 1999.

According to county records, the reason given for the cost decrease was that cattle guards go across county roads that are for public use.

Private landowners are asked not to put up gates, but use cattle guards on county roads instead. Because the travelling public benefits from the cattle guards, taxpayers should pay a fair share, documents state.

But Steele said most cattle guards are a business expense for those having them installed and those businesses should pay for the cattle guards.

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos was a commissioner in 1999 when the decision was made to reduce cattle guard prices, and said the decision was made to reduce the prices through a public process.

Her opinion, she said, the installation of cattle guards are for the benefit of those traveling on county roads.

Which is why, she said, they should foot part of the bill.

"I'm willing to listen to it," Raftopoulos said of Steele's proposal. "We need to have public input from those on both sides of the issue."

Steele said if the price change were made, it would still be the county's responsibility to maintain the cattle guards once they are in place.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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