Drainage District has collected $1M in utility fees, so far
Residents and businesses have sent in nearly $1 million in response to the second round of utility bills sent out by the Grand Valley Drainage District.
“The citizenry has responded” to the bills, General Manager Tim Ryan told the board on Thursday.
Preparations for trial in June suggest that Mesa County and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce the issue will revolve around whether the bills amount to fees or to illegal taxation, drainage district attorney Dan Wilson told the board.
The district sent out bills for $2.7 million to the about 40,000 property owners within the 90-square-mile district, all on the north side of the Colorado River.
With nearly a month to go before the bills are due, the district has collected more than $924,000, or about one-third of the total amount billed.
The bills are disputed by the county and the chamber, which contend they amount to taxes being levied without voter approval required by the state constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment.
The district has maintained it is well within its rights under state law to charge a fee for projects intended to help control storm water and won the first round when Mesa County District Judge David Bottger refused to halt collection of the bills, which he said were “in the nature of a fee.”
Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis said he was unsurprised that bills were being paid and noted that the drainage district has made a list of projects.
Planning work is continuing on what is known as the Buthorn Drain, a system of ditches, pipes and conduits which drains the area running roughly diagonally southwest from area of 12th Street and Patterson Road to the Colorado River south of Mesa Mall.