Taxing error, reduced valuation lead to 83 percent cut for conservation districts

RBC I The tax valuation within Rio Blanco County has dropped considerably this year and taxpayers will be paying a reduced amount in 2016. Therefore, the county and special districts within the county will be receiving less. The conservation districts’ tax revenues will be reduced significantly more due to an error identified by the county assessor. The districts have been mistakenly receiving tax revenues on personal property while they are only eligible for tax revenues from real property under Colorado State Statute.
While this is a significant financial hit to the conservation districts, the districts want to thank Rio Blanco County Assessor, Renae Neilson, for discovering this error and making the necessary corrections. The conservation districts believe that no one should pay excess taxes.
It is important to note that property within the town limits of Meeker and Rangely are excluded from the Districts and therefore are not impacted.
Because the error is regarding personal property only, and agriculture is exempt from paying taxes on personal property, the primary taxpayers impacted are the oil and gas companies operating in Rio Blanco County. In addition to no longer having to pay taxes on their personal property (equipment, pipelines, etc.), those who have paid this in the past are eligible for abatement for the past two years plus interest.
The districts reached out to the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association which coordinated a workshop with their members and the districts. This provided an opportunity for questions to be answered and great dialogue. Fortunately for the districts, many of the companies have indicated that they will not be requesting an abatement. The districts are grateful for the industry’s support of local communities and the districts’ work in the conservation of natural resources.
The districts just completed the Rio Blanco County Natural Resource Plan and Policy (the Plan), a document designed to provide a much stronger voice for Rio Blanco County citizens in the management of the public lands within the county. This was a two-year endeavor in partnership with Rio Blanco County and the districts intend to move forward utilizing the Plan. We plan to continue advocating for the wise use of natural resources in Rio Blanco County through providing information, education and technical assistance for many years to come.
However, the districts will be taking an 83 percent reduction in mill levy funding which is the primary source of funding for the districts. Therefore, the districts are looking at alternative funding sources which could include voluntary dues and sponsorships, grants, and working with other partners including the County.
The White River and Douglas Creek conservation districts will be hosting their long range planning input sessions in October and November to help determine the future direction and focus of the districts. It is standard practice for the districts to host these constituent input sessions every three years to gather input on what resource issues should be the priority for the next three years.
However, this year is unique given the above circumstances and it is critical for landowners to attend these input sessions because the districts will need to prioritize their efforts more than usual.
Please plan to attend the districts’ input sessions. White River Conservation District will host their session on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the fairgrounds. RSVP is requested by Friday, Sept. 30. The Douglas Creek conservation district will host their session on Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Rangely Fire Hall. Please RSVP for this meeting by Oct. 28.
Please contact the districts by calling 878-9838 with any questions.