Commissioners sign off on lease

A deal signed by Moffat County commissioners Tuesday will net the county $58,000 and possibly more.

Commissioners voted unanimously to lease the mineral rights to a 775-acre parcel of land west of town to Lynn Properties for three years.

At $75 per acre, the deal will net the county $58,000.

If the company drills on the property, the county will receive a 16 percent royalty for anything pumped out of the ground.

But Moffat County natural resources director Jeff Comstock said just because a company buys a mineral lease, it doesn't necessarily mean rigs are on the way.

"It's not like this is a guarantee of drilling," Comstock said.

Companies regularly buy leases and don't drill on them, Comstock said.

A county-owned mineral parcel near Loudy-Simpson Park south of Craig has been leased since 1990 but has never been drilled.

If a company decides to drill any of the minerals leased from Moffat County, the company has to work out an agreement with the landowner who owns the surface rights.

Comstock said not all mineral rights owners have the same rules the county does regarding surface rights.

"That's a very powerful position for a landowner to be in," Comstock said.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said the county takes the rights of surface owners seriously and that's the reason for the county's policy.

"We've been very proactive in that," Gray said.

Moffat County owns the mineral rights to about 60,000 acres in the county.

The county obtained most of the mineral rights when the previous owners failed to pay taxes on the minerals. Most of those transactions happened in the 1940s.

Proceeds from the county's mineral leases are shared with other taxing districts, including the school district and the fire department.

• Commissioners announced that the county had received more than $900,000 in two separate grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The grants will pay for road equipment and storage facilities for the county. Commissioner Darryl Steele said DOLA grants are an important part of the county's budget.

• Commissioners accepted bids for new equipment for the Moffat County Pest management Department.

• Commissioners voted 2 to 1 in favor of hiring a temporary assistant director for the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted against the motion because the position is not in the museum's budget.

• Commissioners voted 3 to 0 in favor of hiring three new part-time employees at the Sheriff's Office. The new employees will not increase the sheriff's budget.

• Commissioners voted 3 to 0 to negotiate a contract with two local attorneys who will represent the county in some social services cases.

• Commissioners discussed cuts in federal funding to the local drug task force.

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