Letters to the Editor: May 22, 2008

Dear Editor,
Thank you for the opportunity to answer Lisa Pollard’s letter of May 8, 2008. There are a few things that should be cleared up.
In 1975 when the BLM was ordered to write horse management plans, I was sent as a representative of the Cattlemen’s Association to observe and give input to the BLM plans in Northwest Colorado and Northeast Utah. Both offices wrote rational, well thought-out plans that outlined the areas, such as the Cathedral Bluffs, where the horses will be kept for people to enjoy and where they would be removed, as in the case of West Douglas, to prevent resource damage.
When the BLM held its first gather, the only people that were bothered about the horses being rounded up were those who were hoping the law would be overturned so they could go back to chasing them themselves. The late 1980s brought a new group of people to the area that started suing to stop the gathers. However, the BLM has shown in every plan good and valid reasons to remove all federal horses from the West Douglas area and also won every suit with the 33 years of data they have that shows the range conditions there are not suitable to manage horses in.
It is true that the White River BLM has not had a wild horse specialist who was a scientist. I have never met one in any BLM office. A lot of them are well meaning, but they don’t manage horses, all they do is run around telling other people what they can’t do because there is a horse somewhere out there. The range conservation officer is who should have the final say on range matters.
Finally, I would stipulate that saying-what-you-think and standing by your principles is also a trait of cowboys, past and present, that live in those same seemingly uninhabitable places and whose heritage was forcibly taken away on Dec. 15, 1971.
All I have left to say is, “Let’s just git’r done.”
Jon D. Hill

Dear Editor,
On behalf of the Grace Baptist Church Mothers of Preschoolers group in Rangely, we wanted to thank all the area businesses who contributed gifts and gift certificates for our May banquet. We had many women attend and they all enjoyed their prizes so much. MOPS is a group of ladies who have children ages birth to preschool. Anyone is welcomed. Call 675-8010 for more information. Again, thanks for your support.
Tarrah Patch
Dear Editor,
I’m glad we have at least one senator who is actually listening to what we the people of Western Colorado want when it comes to issues like oil shale. I would like to thank Senator Wayne Allard for standing up against the delay tactics of fellow Senator Ken Salazar on the topic of oil shale development in Western Colorado. The United States does not have a set of rules and regulations for oil shale and tar sands development. Currently, the federal government is analyzing how a national commercial oil shale program should be conducted in a document, regulated by the National Environmental Policy Act, called a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement or a PEIS for short. The PEIS sets the stage for how America should develop an active oil shale and tar sands program and about how oil shale development can be consistent with other land plans and prepares the process for land-use management. The PEIS is not the end of the process, it is the beginning; all future oil shale and tar sands development projects will require federally required, comprehensive, site-specific detail-centric processes which include many opportunities for public engagement and comment. Unfortunately, Senator Salazar is pretending to be ignorant of this process, whilst wasting the Congress’ time with redundant proposals, in the hopes of gaining press coverage and grand standing on behalf of the very vocal, very small special interest minority in Colorado. I was happy to see that Senator Allard understands that the majority of citizens on the Western Slope want to see a national oil shale leasing program happen. Oil shale development is a critically important necessity for our energy security. It would bring thousands of jobs to our area and would increase money to the state coffers through taxes and revenue. Senator Salazar has consistently voted against developing Colorado energy resources which would help power America and power our economy.
Charles Green
Grand Junction

Dear Editor,
To the residents of Rio Blanco County, I would like to take a minute to further clarify the statement made in last week’s paper by the Board of Commissioners stating, “The mill levy in the county produces $627 per well per year.” To more clearly explain this, please read the example below. A gas well valued at $100,000 has a taxable value of $87,500. The amount of $87,500 is multiplied by the mill levy for the taxing district where it is located. If a well is located in the Piceance Creek area, the tax amounts for the different taxing districts are as follows:

Tax District Mill Levy Taxes
Cemetery 0.867 $75.86
Colo. Water Cons. 0.191 $16.71
Rio Blanco County 9.050 $791.88
Meeker Fire Dept. 2.573 $225.14
Meeker Library 2.032 $177.80
Eastern Parks & Rec. 7.512 $657.30
Piceance Creek Pest 2.000 $175.00
Eastern RBC Health 7.280 $637.00
RE-1 School District 9.517 $832.74
WR Soil Cons. Dist 0.275 $24.06
Total 41.297 $3,613.49

Taxes in neighboring counties, using the same value of $100,000, with the taxable value of $87,500, are as follows:

County Govt. County taxes to Mill Levy
Garfield 0.013295 $1,163.31
Mesa 0.017465 $1,528.19
Moffat 0.020284 $1,774.85
Rio Blanco 0.009050 $791.88
As you can see, our county has a much lower mill levy; therefore, we do not collect the same amount of tax as our neighboring counties.
A home valued at $100,000 will have a taxable value of $7,960. If that home was located in the same area (Piceance Creek) as the gas well, the total amount paid in taxes would be $324.72. The amount Rio Blanco County would receive is $72.09.
The difference in a gas well and a home is the assessment rate. Oil and gas assessment rate is 87.5 percent and the residential rate is 7.96 percent. This is a state law.
If you have any further questions on how property taxes are calculated, please feel free to contact me. I hope this will assist you in understanding more about the commissioners’ need for the impact fee.
Thank you,
Renae Neilson
Rio Blanco County assessor