Commissioners to stump for 1A

County officials worried public doesn't understand tax question

With the election a little more than a week away, county officials are concerned voters don't know enough about Referendum 1A.

Commissioners discussed the referendum with the Craig Lions Club and the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development partnership this week and may go door-to-door this weekend discussing the referendum.

"I suspect people want to know more," Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

Referendum 1A asks voters to exempt the county from revenue limits imposed by a law from 1913.

The 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 has to refund 4.5 percent.

The referendum makes it difficult for the county to rebound from rough economic times, officials say, because although revenues can grow by only 5.5 percent, they can fall by much more.

According to the county's figures, the referendum would cost a homeowner about $20 per $100,000 in property value during the next two years. The referendum would cost a business $72 per $100,000 of property value.

If the referendum fails, voters would not receive a refund check in the mail, but they would receive a credit toward future taxes. About 80 percent of the tax credits would go to the county's top-10 taxpayers, all of which are energy companies. About 14 percent of the refunds would go to addresses within Moffat County.

If the referendum passes, it would add an estimated $962,500 to the county's coffers by the end of 2006, said county Assessor Suzanne Brinks. The referendum would sunset in five years, and the 5.5 percent limit would be restored.

Tayyara said if the referendum does not pass, the county will be forced to reduce services, including road grading and patrols by the sheriff's office.

Commissioners held a public meeting in September to educate the public about the referendum, but only four citizens came.

Commissioners didn't start campaigning for the measures until last week, when they started knocking on doors and visiting with service clubs.

Commissioners Tayyara and Darryl Steele have been talking to organizations about the referendum, but Commissioner Tom Gray has not.

Gray said he supports the referendum and would be happy to answer the public's questions about it, but he doesn't think it is his role to promote it.

Part of the reason the commissioners waited until so close to the election to start going door to door was that they didn't want to bombard voters with campaigning.

"We don't want to overwhelm the public," Tayyara said.

County Budget Analyst Tin--neal Gerber said she, too, was concerned voters didn't know enough about the referendum.

Gerber and Tayyara said they would be happy to answer the public's questions about the referendum.

"That's why we're here," she said.

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