Moffat County Commission approves December 2011 mineral sale

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Appointed Tom Gray commission chairman for the year.

• Announced 2012 ex-officio assignments.

• Approved, 3-0, waiving the bid process for book binding services for the clerk and recorder’s office.

• Awarded, 3-0, a bid for landfill tire removal to Intrawest, LLC, for $157 per ton.

• Approved, 3-0, Department of Social Services meeting minutes from Dec. 20, 2011.

• Approved, 3-0, Social Services applying for $46,150 in Temple Hoyne Buell grant funding for Connections 4 Kids Early Childhood Council 2012 programs.

• Approved, 3-0, appropriating $22,869 of temporary aid to Needy Families/Colorado Works funding to Steamboat Springs Transit to subsidize commuter bus service.

• Heard monthly reports from Social Services.

• Approved, 3-0, hiring an assistant night manager for the housing authority.

• Approved, 3-0, an alley vacation request in Hamilton.

On Jan. 4, Moffat County officials recorded bids from the December 2011 mineral lease sale that netted $152,080.64 for the Museum of Northwest Colorado and $158,984.10 for Moffat County.

A week later, Jeff Comstock, Moffat County’s natural resources director, and Dan Davidson, Museum of Northwest Colorado director, appeared before the Moffat County Commission and recommended the board approve results from the sale.

The commission did so by a 3-0 vote Wednesday.

All told, 34 tracts were up for auction encompassing more than 644 mineral acres.

Thirty-two of those tracts and 444 acres are owned by the museum. The county owns the remaining 200 acres that were split up into two parcels.

Five companies participated in the sealed bid auction, including Gulfport Energy Corporation, Westpoint Energy, Inc., Shell Western Exploration and Production, LP, Axia Energy, and Yates Petroleum.

Although the county only had two tracts up for auction, one labeled Tract 131 attracted one of the highest bids in recent memory.

Tract 131 encompasses 46.5 mineral acres underneath the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Gulfport outbid the competition by offering $2,510.33 per acre bringing in $116,730.35 for the county.

“Job well done, I am really impressed with the Gulfport bid on the Moffat County property,” commissioner Tom Mathers said. “That’s got to be a county high.”

Tract 131 is unique not simply because of its location.

According to county records, the county purchased the land and the minerals at the fairgrounds more than 70 years ago.

“To my understanding there is no need to return that money to the taxing districts because that property was purchased with county money,” Davidson said.

The county’s other auction item, Tract 134, was acquired through a tax sale and the proceeds of that lease will be split among the county’s taxing districts.

Tract 134 totaled 153 acres and brought in $42,253.75.

Davidson had recommendations on how the county should appropriate the money.

“It’s just my personal opinion, but it would be kind of cool to see that money go back into the fairgrounds if there’s a potential to better the facility,” Davidson said.

Mathers said all revenue the county receives from minerals goes to improving the county’s infrastructure.

“That money does take care of all our facilities and we need to keep that in mind,” he said. “Anytime we do something in the future we should put a big plaque up that says ‘This has been brought to you by mineral leasing.’”

Comstock said that’s not a bad idea considering how little is publicly known about how mineral lease money is used.

“I was talking to an individual who told me how nice he thought the (Moffat County Fairgrounds) Pavilion was and how happy he was that his tax dollars went to remodel that,” Comstock said. “I replied, ‘Your tax dollars didn’t remodel that, mineral money remodeled that.’

“It dropped his mouth and I think we should (let the public) know that about all of the projects this money goes to.”

Even though money generated by the museum’s minerals go back to the museum, Davidson said the leasing has benefited the public.

“It’s a pretty amazing opportunity for the community to have these dollars without it being provided by taxpayers,” Davidson said. “We wouldn’t be able to have the exhibits and all of the work we’re doing without it and I don’t think it hurts to bring it up.”

All of the leases won in the December mineral lease sale are for three years with a 3/16 royalty on production.

Companies have until Feb. 7 to complete title work, fill out the leases and cut checks.

Comstock and Davidson will appear before the commission again Feb. 14 to provide the completed documents for signature.

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