Water district asks to de-Bruce

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Possibly the least publicized item Moffat County voters will cast ballots for on Nov. 4 is Referendum 4A, an initiative sponsored by the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

If passed, the referendum would allow the district to freeze its current mill-levy assessment in compliance with the TABOR (taxpayer's bill of rights) amendment.

"The River District's assessment on property taxes has been cut in half since the TABOR law has gone into effect, standing at just 0.25 mills," according to the Colorado River Water District. "The steady reduction in the assessment has been degrading the district's ability to pursue capital improvements to the West Slope water supply to keep up with the rapid growth and periods of extreme drought."

Western Slope homeowners currently are assessed $4.35 on a $200,000 home. The measure is not a tax increase.

If passed, the "de-Brucing" measure will save the district considerable accounting expenses and paperwork from receiving grants and entering into cooperative funding ventures on water supply, water quality and other water issues important to the Western Slope. They plan to use the revenue collected from the measure "for development of new water resources for Western Slope use, water quality improvements and measures to increase storage in existing Western Slope reservoirs."

The Water District has already increased water available in storage and defended Western Slope water users, the group said.

"We minimized the effects of the drought on our constituency, but we can do more with additional resources," said board President Paul Ohri.

Board members of the Colorado River Water Conservation District unanimously opposed Referendum A, a controversial statewide $2 billion water bonding measure sponsored in part by Governor Bill Owens.

The Colorado River Water District serves the residents of 15 Western Slope counties including Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, and Grand.

The district was chartered in 1937.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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