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Revenue-sharing bill advances

Aspen Times Staff Report

A bill that would allow “have” counties in the Colorado high country to share revenues with the “have-nots” cleared its first hurdle Wednesday night in the Colorado House.

The Finance Committee passed the bill, 8-5, sending it to the Appropriations Committee, according to Mick Ireland, a Pitkin County commissioner who testified at the hearing. Ireland is chairman of the Rural Resort Region, a consortium of five mountain counties which support the revenue-sharing bill.

“Prospects in the Appropriations Committee are good – three of the members of Finance are on Appropriations and all three voted for the bill,” Ireland said.

The revenue-sharing bill was introduced by Rep. Russell George, R-Rifle. George, who represents much of the Roaring Fork Valley, is speaker of the House this session.

He is uncertain whether that extra clout will be enough to carry the bill through the House. It has failed three times before.

The bill proposes a couple of different mechanisms for revenue sharing. The most likely to earn approval is one that would allow counties and municipalities to set up special agreements that let funds from one county be used to offset effects of growth in another area.

For example, Pitkin County could negotiate an agreement with Garfield County to help fund day care in New Castle. If Pitkin County voters approved a sales tax for that purpose, the state would deduct sales taxes due

to the treasury and allow them to be diverted to New Castle day care.

The idea, George has said, it to get areas like Pitkin County to help pay for the impacts of growth it has created elsewhere. The bill has been promoted by Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Summit and Lake counties – the members of the Rural Resort Region.

Ireland said members of the Finance Committee questioned witnesses about the bill for almost two hours Wednesday evening.

“Almost all the members expressed sympathy for the problems we face and most acknowledged there was an equity issue because the [Rural Resort Region] sends approximately $60 million more to the state on a per-capita basis than other counties,” Ireland said.

“We are asking to keep $10 million to address growth impacts on a partnership basis between surplus-generating counties and impacted counties like Garfield and Lake,” he added. “Other counties like Routt, Jackson, Clear Creek, San Miguel are also eligible to form partnerships.”

No date has been set yet for the bill to be heard by the Appropriations Committee. If it clears that committee, it will go to a vote of the full House, then on to the Senate.


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