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RBC — Everyone attending the public hearing held by the Rio Blanco County Commissioners on the Rangely campus of Colorado Northwestern Community College Monday was in agreement about the impacts facing the county but not how to pay for them.
Impacts fees on drilling, as well as new commercial and residential development in unincorporated RBC, have been proposed to the county commissioners as a possible revenue stream to mitigate some of the impacts, especially on county roads. The fees can only be used for capital improvements, which have been identified as roads, a new criminal justice center and upgrades to administrative buildings. Rebuilding RBC Road 5 is a priority. Several meetings and hearings have been held and the commissioners will host another public hearing in Meeker Tuesday, May 27 at 1:15 p.m. in the Mountain Valley Bank community room.
Jeff Madison, natural resource specialist for RBC, gave the presentation explaining the impact fees and said everything regarding the fees can be seen on the county’s Web site; www.co.rio-blanco.co.us.
Marianna Raftopoulos of the West Slope Chapter of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, presented the energy industry’s concerns to the proposed fees and asked the commissioners to postpone adopting the new plan until alternatives can be researched.
“We want to pay for our impacts but in an equitable, user-defined system,” Raftopoulos said. She said the 15-year projections used were not realistic and there was no sunset for the fees, which was a concern for others in attendance.
Raftopoulos said industry would like time to research public/private partnerships between the county, industry, Colorado Department of Transportation and Department of Local Affairs to pay for the rebuilding of RBC Road 5.
Madison said by state statute, credits would have to be given dollar-for-dollar for any funds received to pay for the proposed capital improvements as prioritized.
“As an industry, we are committed to pay for our legitimate impacts and we want to work with you on an equitable solution,” Raftopoulos told the commissioners. “We will continue to fight to bring severence tax dollars back to impacted communities.”