Federal Mineral Lease District Board convenes for the first time | CraigDailyPress.com

Federal Mineral Lease District Board convenes for the first time

Joe Moylan

A new Federal Mineral Lease District Board is tasked with managing about $1 million in federal mineral lease money. Darryl Steele was elected president, and Jean Stetson was elected secretary.

The new Federal Mineral Lease District Board met for the first time Wednesday to elect officers and approve a plan to manage about $1 million in federal mineral lease money.

The Moffat County Treasurer could receive the funds by Aug. 31. The money will be placed in a district account.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers oversaw Wednesday's meeting. Officers elected were president Darryl Steele, a former county commissioner, and secretary Jean Stetson. Mathers also serves as a board member.

The district, which encompasses unincorporated Moffat County, was created in accordance with Colorado House Bill 11-1218, also known as the Federal Mineral Lease Districts Act.

The legislation transfers management of federal mineral lease money from counties to district boards to maximize federal funding for counties.

According to the approved service plan, the district

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board will:

• Annually distribute funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to areas and projects socially or economically impacted by the development, processing or energy conversion of fuels and minerals.

• Solicit projects from eligible entities, which fit the above criteria.

• Adopt a budget.

• Complete an annual audit.

The service plan also allows the board to cooperate with other districts in Western Colorado.

Specifically, those cooperating districts encompass all members of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, including Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Garfield, and Mesa counties.

Mathers said AGNC has expressed interest in pooling mineral lease money from each of the five districts to pay for large-scale projects that would be beneficial to the region.

The district board is considering a partnership with AGNC, which could potentially put the agency in charge of about $7 million in DOLA money.

"I used to sit on the AGNC board and it's a good outfit," Steele said. "But, if you put all of this money in there, your say in how it gets used becomes really diluted."

Mathers said an advantage to a cooperative agreement with other districts in the region is the positive perception it creates to the federal government.

"The federal government really likes cooperatives," Stetson said. "If they see us working together, they may be more inclined to keep the program funded."

The board did not make a decision Thursday on the potential partnership with AGNC.

The district board will reconvene at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 in Maybell to draft and approve bylaws.

Board members will accept proposals for the distribution of the $1 million in federal mineral lease money sometime in the fall.

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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