to release funds to communities

Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to free up some surplus federal mineral royalty lease money to be distributed to local communities, according to the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

During his visit to Rifle and Craig last week, the group praised the governor for agreeing to its request to release about $3.8 million that is left over in the state’s Local Government Permanent Fund, which comes from payments to the state from severance taxes and federal mineral leases.

The group asked the governor to distribute the extra money because federal mineral lease payments this year are down by about 10 percent, and the additional money could go a long way to making up some of that loss to local governments, which use the money to mitigate the impacts of mineral development.

“The conditions that the law set for distributing these funds are in place right now,” said the group’s executive director, Scott McInnis. “We asked the governor to look into the matter and to see to it that the funds were properly distributed in accordance with the law.”

McInnis said the governor readily agreed and would resolve the matter as soon as possible.

In recent years, surplus money from that fund has been used to help balance the state’s budget. But now, with state revenues coming in at pre-recession levels, that money is just sitting in the fund doing nothing.

The group told the governor that money now should be distributed, a suggestion it said Hickenlooper agreed with during a meeting with the group in Rifle on Monday.


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