Jim Evans fathered U.S. revenue plan for counties

A memorial service will be Saturday for Jim Evans, who for years led the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and spearheaded discussions about oil shale, natural gas and other resources.

It also was Evans who sparked the idea of having the federal government pay the equivalent of property taxes to counties with vast tracts of federal land.

Evans died Sunday. He was 73.

Working for the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1970s, urged the chief of staff to President Gerald Ford to consider plans to provide those county governments with money because the counties had no taxing authority over the federal government.

Evans “got Dick Cheney interested in it,” and Cheney got Ford to agree, said former Mesa County Commissioner Kathy Hall. The upshot was that legislation establishing payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) became law in 1976.

“We have PILT because of Jim Evans and his relationship with Dick Cheney, when he was chief of staff to President Ford,” Hall said. “It was remarkable the things he got done for western Colorado.”

“Jim really was the father of PILT,” said Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League.

Mamet then worked for Clark County, Nevada, and dealt with Evans on the counties association, Mamet said. “He was Mr. PILT.”

Cheney later served two terms as vice president under George W. Bush.

Evans was the expert on the ways that state and federal revenue were distributed to local governments, said former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo.

“You always called Jim Evans and he knew all the steps” in the process, McInnis said.

“Now nobody will know who gets how much money for what,” said Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster, a former state legislator. “He was the only guy I knew who knew all the funding allocation formulas, not just PILT, but energy impact, severance, all of those funding mechanisms. He was a great guy.”

Evans, Hall said, was a careful strategist who held no grudges but wouldn’t be denied.

“He never got angry, he never took it out on anyone, but he would keep working until he got an issue through Congress or the Legislature,” Hall said. “Nobody does that anymore.”

Mamet once inadvertently sent his briefing materials to Evans as well as western Colorado members in preparation for a negotiation with Evans. Once the deal was concluded, Evans congratulated him on his skills and announced to the group, “‘Why look here, he even sent me his CML negotiating proposal,’” Mamet recalled.

He had to buy the first round of beers, but the deal, Mamet said, “has stood the test of time.”

Evans was married 52 years to Marci, and they had two sons, Brad in Grand Junction and Spencer in Crestview, Fla., and a grandson, Kyle. The memorial will be 1 to 4 p.m. at the family home, 2660 Brodie Lane, Crestview, Fla., 32536.


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