Moffat County to receive $1.6-$1.8 million from Anvil Points bill |

Moffat County to receive $1.6-$1.8 million from Anvil Points bill

Anvil Points as it appears from a hilltop on Morrisania Mesa near Rulison. The U.S. government has agreed to make long-due royalty payments from the Anvil Points shale site to Colorado.
Christopher Tomlinson/Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

CRAIG – Moffat County is expected to receive between $1.6 and $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior in connection to the former Anvil Points research site.

Anvil Points, located northwest of Rifle on the Roan Plateau, was the focus of decades of research conducted by the U.S. Navy and Department of Energy. The federal government investigated how oil shale could be mined and processed into a usable energy source. The project began in the 1940s and was decommissioned in 1986.

In 1997, the land was transferred to the Bureau of Land Management, which was tasked with cleaning up the site. The government froze royalty payments owed to Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield and Mesa counties, using the money to clean up the site.

When the cleanup was completed in 2013, some of these funds remained. It is unclear how much money remains, but estimates range from $16.5 million to nearly $20 million.

Earlier this year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the state would receive a check for the Anvil Points royalties in March; in light of this, a bill was fast-tracked through the state legislature to ensure the four counties impacted would receive the funds. Last week, Commissioner Don Cook testified at the state capitol on behalf of Moffat County.

Without this bill, the money would have been distributed to counties and local governments around the state, as current law distributes federal royalties statewide. Now, Moffat and Mesa counties will each receive 10 percent each of the funds, while Rio Blanco and Garfield counties will receive 40 percent each.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill, HB 1249, on March 22.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports that the state is set to receive the check from the Department of the Interior on Friday, March 30.

On Thursday, the Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution allocating the money in the county budget.

City finance policies say that one-time revenue, such as the Anvil Points money, can only be used to “rebuild reserves”or for “capital expenditures and other non-recurring expenditures,” county Finance Director Mindy Curtis said.

Funds from the Anvil Points site will be placed in the county’s capital projects fund for “yet-to-be-determined” capital projects. The capital projects fund pays for expenses not budgeted in the general fund, including projects such as building repairs and equipment purchases.

Cook said this extra cash could allow the county to apply for more matching grants, doubling the effectiveness of the money.

The BOCC applauded the work of state legislators and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado in ensuring the counties received the money.

“There has been a tendency, I believe, in previous county budgets, to balance budgets at the expense of capital improvements,” said Commissioner Frank Moe. “It fits in with our five-year, long-term financial plan, which is unique, and it also fits in with the 10-year capital improvement plan, where we’re looking at short-, medium- and long-term stability, resilience and strength of the budget.”

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