$3.8 million coming back to counties

Quick thinking by officials in Grand Junction’s finance department got the ball rolling to free up $3.8 million in funds that will be distributed to communities across the state.

Grand Junction stands to receive nearly $79,000 and Mesa County’s Federal Mineral Lease District is slated to get about $168,000 in federal mineral lease funds after legislators vote next month to release the dollars.

Municipalities across the state had been receiving yearly allocations from taxes and royalties paid by energy companies. However, since 2008, Colorado has raided those funds to balance its budget. That arrangement should have sunset last year, but the state collected the funds yet didn’t distribute them.

“It’s not over until we cash a check,” Grand Junction city councilor Marty Chazen said Thursday. “It really is kind of a good story. It’s something that was identified locally.”

Grand Junction’s finance department noticed in July that the money hadn’t been distributed. City officials alerted several state representatives and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, who forwarded the concerns on to members of the state’s Joint Budget Committee.

Federal mineral lease dollars are distributed to counties and municipalities based on an area’s level of energy production.

“If you take a look at who gets the money, it goes to rural communities,” Chazen said.

Based on an analysis compiled by the city of Grand Junction, Garfield County’s Federal Mineral Lease District would receive the highest amount from this payout, nearly $364,000.


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