Colorado cities, counties, including Garfield, get severance tax windfall
September 2, 2009
DENVER – Colorado cities and counties will get a record $80 million windfall from state and federal taxes on energy development, Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said Wednesday.
The distributions, which come at a critical time to help local government and schools maintain quality services, will go to 509 cities, counties and school districts to offset the impact of energy projects, she said.
It will be up to local communities to decide how to spend it, O’Brien said.
“These direct distribution awards will allow local officials to decide how best to invest these funds and make the biggest difference in their communities,” O’Brien said.
Lawmakers changed the distribution formula this year following complaints from counties hit hard by the energy boom that money to repair roads and expand schools was being spent in counties with less drilling.
Under the old law, the distribution was based on the number of employees in the energy impacted communities in which they resided. Because of the boom, many employees were forced to live long distances from work.
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Under the new law, other factors are also considered, including the number of drilling permits, production, employee residence, population and highway use.
Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert said the extra money will help Rifle make up for steep budget cuts due to the recession and keep up with expansion needed to provide services for drilling crews that have stressed resources on the Western Slope.
Top recipients of severance funds include Garfield County, $4.5 million; Grand Junction, $2 million, La Plata County, $1.9 million, and Mesa County, $4.7 million.
Federal mineral lease funds include $7 million for Garfield County; $1 million for Grand Junction, $441,000 for La Plata County and $2.3 million for Mesa County.