Randy Baumgardner, left, and Jean White

Randy Baumgardner, left, and Jean White

Area legislators partnering on mineral lease revenue bill

If passed, bill could place $1 million more annually in Moffat County coffers

Advertisement

By the numbers:

Moffat County revenue from federal mineral leases and payment in lieu of taxes:

• 2008

— PILT: $757,730

— Mineral lease: $712,740

• 2009

— PILT: $798,142

— Mineral lease: $1.13 million

• 2010

— PILT: $551,017

— Mineral lease: $1.14 million

State Sen. Jean White contends Northwest Colorado has been hit hard by the economic downturn.

Having funds like severance tax and federal mineral lease revenues — portions of which are usually returned to local counties — held back by the state to supplement the general fund doesn’t help either, she said.

That’s why the Republican senator from Hayden said she gladly signed on as a sponsor of Colorado House Bill 11-1218. White and a co-sponsor, State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, are carrying the bill.

“I just feel like this is an opportunity for us to hang on to more of the money and I will do anything to keep as much money as possible in my district,” White said Wednesday.

H.B. 11-1218 addresses how two certain revenue streams are allocated back to local counties and the relationship they have with each other.

Federal mineral lease payments come from revenues associated with mineral extraction in their county of origin, Moffat County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber said.

Payment in lieu of taxes funds are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to the amount of nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries.

Gerber said, however, the amount of federal mineral lease revenue received by a county is deducted from its annual PILT payment.

However, H.B. 11-1218 would allow PILT funds to not be reduced by the amount of federal mineral lease payments received by allowing counties to set up “federal mineral lease districts,” White said.

“Part of the way this works is that the districts basically takes the money out of the county control, which is a requirement of the Department of Interior, in order to prevent the PILT payment reduction,” White said.

Gerber said if the bill passes and Moffat County sets up such a district, it could mean about $1 million in extra annual PILT funds.

Last year, Gerber said Moffat County received $551,017 in PILT funds and $1.14 million in federal mineral lease funds.

However, because there are two different ways PILT funding is calculated, Gerber said if the bill was in effect in 2010, Moffat County would have received $1.37 million in PILT funding instead of $551,017.

Because of the amount of federal land located in Moffat County, Gerber said the county already receives a “pretty high” amount of PILT funding.

Northwest Colorado also generates between two-thirds and three-quarters of Colorado’s total federal mineral lease revenue, White said.

“It just makes sense to be able to allow the local communities to set up districts so that they can keep more of the funds — it just makes perfect sense I think,” White said.

She said she is also optimistic about the bill’s future.

“There wasn’t any opposition to it in the House and I don’t anticipate any opposition to it in the Senate either,” she said. “So, I have every confidence that it will pass.”

The bill passed through the House in late February and was introduced into the Senate and assigned to committee in early March.

It was scheduled to be heard Thursday, but was postponed until next week due to state budget discussions, White said.

The bill also outlines requirements for the creation of the district if the county’s board of county commissioners chooses to, including it’s board of directors, service plan approval and its powers and duties.

The district board is further directed to distribute all funding received from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs “to areas within the district that are socially or economically impacted by the development, processing, or energy conversion of fuels and minerals leased under the federal Mineral Lands Leasing Act.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said he supports the bill because of its potential revenue benefits to counties.

“It would beneficial, but it wouldn’t be as beneficial, I don’t think, as to some counties because our PILT payment is not as big as some counties,” he said.

Gray said the county would likely set up a mineral lease district. He said he also appreciates that the bill is being carried by White and Baumgardner.

“They are responding to what their district’s needs are, what issues are in their districts and so … that’s how a representative government should work and they are doing their jobs,” he said.

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or briansmith@craigdailypress.com.

Click here to have the print version of the Craig Daily Press delivered to your home.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.