Commissioner backs river tax increase plan |

Commissioner backs river tax increase plan

Paul Shockley

Count on Referendum 4A as being one of the few proposed tax increases that T. Wright Dickinson will stand behind.

“We need to control our own destiny and this is the best way to protect our fair share of the Colorado River system,” said Dickinson, Moffat County commissioner, and the county’s representative for the 15-county Colorado River Water Conservation District.

Dickinson said a trip to Southern California helped sway him on

the need for capital water construction.

“Those folks were willing to put their money where their mouths are as far as water, which helped develop economies.”

Dickinson and the water district are asking for a 0.25 percent mill levy hike for the district for new water projects, storage and transport across the Western Slope.

If approved, the 20-year increase would add an additional $4.60 per year in taxes for residents with homes valued at $200,000; another $2.30 annually for homes worth $100,000, according to figures from the district.

“This is one of the few tax increases I’ll wholeheartedly support,” Dickinson said.

Owners of existing dams in need of rehabilitation are among the prime beneficiaries, said Eric Kuhn, district manager.

Funds, for those eligible, would go toward the estimated 78 dams within the district’s boundaries now under storage restrictions by state engineers.

A laundry list of projects from storage to water quality and efficiency projects including lining and piping ditches would also receive funds, Kuhn said.

For Moffat County, Dickinson said the continued exploration of water storage alternatives to Elkhead Reservoir would also get much needed dollars.

Smaller reservoirs north of the city around Fortification, near Hamilton as well as the Little Snake River have potential to ease dependence on Elkhead, Dickinson said.

“It would benefit irrigators and could potentially benefit urban growth as it occurs,” he said.

Still, Moffat County would essentially be in competition with its other 14 district members for project funds, even with passage of the tax. And one needs a well-defined project to begin with.

“It all depends on the quality of leadership, but I’m fairly confident there’s a good chance at getting those dollars,” Dickinson said.

Elkhead Reservoir itself would be a prime beneficiary, with funds from an approved tax paying for about one-quarter of its planned four-year expansion, Kuhn said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at

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