County seeks tax exclusion

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The Moffat County commissioners plan to sign an application Tuesday to exclude the county from a state statute restricting property tax revenue growth.

If the state Department of Local Affairs approves the exclusion, Moffat County will be able to spend $194,975 in increased revenue, which it's received from taxes on increased natural gas development, on projects related to impacts from the energy industry.

This is the first time the county has been affected by the statute restricting property tax growth to no more than 5.5 percent, said county financial analyst Tinneal Gerber.

If approved, the county will place the money in a special fund, and it will be used to pay to magwater roads and fund additional sheriff patrols, emergency management and weed patrols, among other projects, Gerber said.

It's not very common for counties to apply for exclusions from the statute, said Susanna Lienhard, finance specialist with DOLA. Last year, she thought one fire district might have applied to be excluded, but no counties did.

To be eligible for the exclusion, counties must make a statement as to the causal relationship between energy production and a need to increase services.

For example, a county might show it needs to increase county road maintenance because high vehicle traffic by energy companies is adversely impacting the roads, Lienhard said.

If Moffat County's assessed value continues to increase, it will have to annually apply for the exclusion.

To avoid that process, the commissioners have been encouraging next year's commissioner board to write a ballot question asking voters to approve a permanent exemption from the 5.5 percent growth restriction.

That is the only way for a county to permanently exempt itself from the restriction, Lienhard said.

The commissioners meet at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in the commissioner chambers of the Moffat County Courthouse.

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