Moffat County Commissioners support severance tax bill | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Commissioners support severance tax bill

A bill in the Colorado legislature could help Moffat County keep more of its money

Patrick Kelly

Moffat County Commissioners John Kinkaid, left, Frank Moe and Chuck Grobe conduct county business at their regular Tuesday commissioner meeting.

The Moffat County commissioners are voicing their support for a bill that would help mineral extracting counties keep their severances taxes.

"It could really have major impacts on our area," said Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe Tuesday morning. "That's been one of our challenges with budgets."

The mineral extraction companies in Moffat County pay a severance tax on all of the natural resources they remove from the ground, whether it is coal, oil or natural gas.

Half of the tax goes to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the rest is supposed to be distributed to local governments directly or through grants from the Department of Local Affairs.

However, as the commissioners discussed at their Tuesday morning meeting last week, the state has often looked to severance tax money as a way to balance its own budget.

"The severance bill is basically telling the state to take their hands off the severance tax money," said Commissioner Chuck Grobe. "It goes to the communities affected and it doesn't go to balance the budget."

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On Thursday, Commissioners Frank Moe and John Kinkaid were in Grand Junction to give remote testimony in support of the proposed legislation.

Moe said Moffat County would benefit if severance tax started "staying in the actual areas where it was intended to, versus balancing the general budget of the state."

Senate Bill 97 is sponsored by state Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and states, "even when economic conditions are poor, the general assembly should not take money away from the communities most impacted from the severance of minerals."

With budget constraints mounting in Moffat County, Kinkaid said it is important we fight to keep the money from our natural resources.

"We're coming out on the short end of the stick right now," he said. "We need to stop that."