RBC I At the start of March, the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners, comprised of Shawn Bolton, Jeff Eskelson and Jon Hill, announced that the account balance in the Rio Blanco County Capital Improvement Trust Fund is at its highest level since 1983, with $19.9 million in the account.
The commissioners said they expect the account will hit the $20 million mark by early May.
The County Capital Improvement Trust Fund was created in 1982 with a deposit of $20 million, given to the county by Federal Mineral Leasing receipts, provided to the county by the State of Colorado through the Oil Shale Trust Fund. The bulk of the interest generated from the account is given annually as grants to local taxing districts such as the schools or hospitals for capital improvement needs.
In 2015, Rio Blanco County earned $103,388 in interest and gave out $102,784 in grants to entities including the Rangely and Meeker schools and to the town governments in Meeker and Rangely.
Commissioner Hill cautions that approximately $2 million of the account is tied to a contingency plan for the Justice Center, should grants promised by the state Department of Local Affairs not come through.
However, he describes that as an “unlikely scenario, because the state wants to see this project succeed,” and he said that even if that money were needed it would be replaced in the account within several month’s time.
According to Commissioner Shawn Bolton, the county had to make a conscious decision to revive the fund balance despite undertaking several large capital improvement plans, including county-wide Internet broadband access and remodeling the new county Justice Center.
Bolton said the commissioners accomplished this by putting “every penny of our severance tax dollars, every year, into the account.”
Commissioner Jeff Eskelson is proud that the county was able to fully restore the trust fund.
In addition to providing the local districts with more grant money benefiting the communities it “leaves us with a ‘just in case’ fund so we can protect our other funds should something happen.”
“We had the intention of raising that balance once we were elected,” Eskelson said. “We knew it was important.”