Commissioners finalize 5.5 question
Board split about whether to restrict revenues to capital projects
If residents vote in November to allow Moffat County to keep excess tax revenues, the county can use the money for projects other than capital expenditures.
Moffat County commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday on the ballot language for the 5.5-percent question, which would allow the county to keep more than $1 million in the next two years that would otherwise be given back to taxpayers under a law from 1913.
The 1913 law limits county revenues to 5.5 percent growth from one year to the next. If county revenues grow by 10 percent, for example, the county would have to refund 4.5 percent.
The referendum — which would sunset in five years — would cost a homeowner with a house worth $100,000 about $25 in tax refunds next year. About 80 percent of the refund would go to the county’s top 10 taxpayers, all of which are energy companies.
Commissioner Tom Gray voted against the referendum, saying he supports the ballot question, but he thinks the revenues should be limited to capital projects and capital reserves.
“People want to know, ‘what are you going to do with this money if we let you keep it,'” Gray said.
Gray said 5.5 percent growth should be more than enough for the government to operate annually, but capital projects, such as road improvements and new equipment, need the exemption.
“I voted no as a statement that I would like to see it be limited to capital projects,” Gray said.
If the referendum passes, Gray said he will push to res-trict the money to capital projects.
Commissioners Saed Tayyara and Darryl Steele said they want to use the excess revenue primarily for capital projects but want some flexibility.
“I’m not sure we want to lock ourselves down to this,” Steele said. “There are too many un–knowns, I think, to lock ourselves down to this.”
Steele and Tayyara said if the population changes and the county’s needs change, future commissioners might need to use the excess revenue for other projects.
Tayyara said he would rather be safe than sorry.
“I don’t like to have my hands tied,” Tayyara said. “I don’t want to get trapped.”
Moffat County Budget Anal-yst Tinneal Gerber said she plans to create two budgets to show citizens how money from the referendum will be spent, one budget with the county keeping the excess and one with it being refunded.
The 5.5 percent question will be listed on the ballot as Referendum 1A.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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