Moffat County School District to receive $1.3 million windfall

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Mark Rydberg, Moffat County School District finance director, had some positive financial news Tuesday for the Moffat County School Board.

The school district would soon receive an estimated $1.3 million windfall, he said.

On Nov. 23, the Moffat County Commission approved the sale of 13,463.65 acres of minerals to several energy companies.

Each year, the school district, along with other Moffat County entities, receives a percentage from mineral lease sales and royalties.

However, Rydberg said the amount was unexpected.

“We talk to (Moffat County Natural Resources Director) Jeff Comstock every year to budget our county mineral lease money,” Rydberg said. “Last year, in the spring, he said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to get any new leases, I think it’s just going to be royalties, and the price of gas is low, so budget about $100,000.

“So that’s about what we budgeted.”

During the October board meeting, Rydberg presented a quarterly report that estimated a $400,000 deficit for the district.

At the time, Rydberg said the district’s best hope for closing the gap would be through energy savings throughout district facilities.

However, in November, Rydberg learned that the district’s fortunes were changing.

“(Comstock) sent me an e-mail to let me know that we were going to receive some money,” he said.

The money, Rydberg said, will plug the fund gap, with a remainder of approximately $900,000.

“Well there’s obviously a little bit of relief,” Rydberg said of the windfall. “But, it’s important to keep in perspective that we are one year into a three-year projected budget crisis.

“And, that amount of money — which seems like a lot — isn’t enough to deal with the upcoming shortfall.

“So, yes, it’s better to have a million dollars than not have a million dollars, but it doesn’t solve all of our problems.”

Rydberg said the allocation of the remaining dollars is a decision for the school board to make.

Rydberg said the discussions would likely boil down to three options.

“You could take that money and you sock it away to save for a rainy day,” he said. “You could spend some of the money this year, or you could use it to deal with some of next year’s budget shortfall.

“Those are three very generic things (the board) could do.”

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