Commissioners move forward on referendums

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Moffat County commissioners moved forward Tuesday on two referendums that will be on November's ballot.

Commissioners approved an amendment to their statement in support of a tax revenue growth exemption and finalized the referendum for Horizons specialized services.

The Horizons referendum, which asks for a 1-mill property tax, was tabled last week because the commissioners weren't sure about a fundraising restriction that would be put on Horizons if voters approve the tax increase.

The original referendum stated that Horizons was not allowed to do fundraisers or direct-mail campaigns if voters approve the tax hike. Commissioners removed that language but left a stipulation stating Horizons would not ask the Moffat County Human Resources Council for additional funding if the referendum passes.

Horizons finance director Emma Bower said at last week's commissioners meeting that the stipulation wouldn't matter because the organization already has decided it won't ask the HRC for additional funding if the referendum passes.

Commissioner Saed Tayyara said the stipulation was necessary because the county, along with the city, funds the HRC. Horizons would be double dipping if they asked for more taxpayer money in addition to the mill levy.

Tayyara said the stipulation was also necessary because future commissioners and city councilors may not remember that Horizons gets funding from Moffat County taxpayers.

"We don't know the same council will be there in 10 or 15 years," Tayyara said.

For the tax revenue growth exemption, commissioners had to amend their support statement because new figures show the referendum won't cost taxpayers as much as the county originally projected.

The county's original estimates said the tax revenue exemption would cost voters about $1 million during the first two years. But new assessments of construction at the county's public utilities show the referendum will cost taxpayers $679,336 over the first two years.

The referendum asks voters to exempt the county for limitations imposed by a law from 1913.

The 1913 law limits county revenues to 5.5 percent growth from one year to the next. If county revenues grow by 10 percent, for example, the county would have to refund 4.5 percent.

The new assessments also mean the county will be able to keep an additional $338,000 even if voters reject the 5.5 percent question.

But commissioners said Tuesday that an additional $338,000 won't be enough to fund capital projects that the county will fund if the 5.5 percent question passes.

County budget analyst Tinn--eal Gerber said she will make two budgets in the coming weeks, one with revenue from the referendum and one without.

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