River District board reaffirms its support of ballot initiative
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Colorado River Water Conservation District Board of Directors will ask voters Nov. 4 to freeze the current property tax rate paid to the district at 0.25 mills.
The property tax is collected in Summit County and 14 other Western Slope counties to support the district’s efforts to protect water rights in the Colorado River and its tributaries.
The vote is required by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR). If voters approve, the mill levy will not be forced lower each year by TABOR’s growth restrictions.
According to a board statement, the River District is asking for the freeze because the TABOR-imposed revenue cap has cut tax rates in half since 1992 and is impairing the district’s ability to adequately meet future Western Slope water needs.
The River District referendum is not a tax increase, the board said.
Western Slope homeowners currently are assessed $4.35 on a $200,000 home for protecting and developing the water for Western Slope benefit.
One River District project is the relatively new Woolford Mountain Reservoir west of Kremmling.
The district plans to use increased revenue collections from the district’s “de-Brucing” or TABOR-compliance vote for development of new water resources for Western Slope use, water quality improvements and measures to increase the storage in existing western Colorado reservoirs.
“We have to be like John Elway,” said Routt County board member Tom Sharp, “You don’t win unless you keep playing the game.”
The current drought period continues to place a serious strain on Western Slope water resources, threatening to impair the economy of western Colorado and possibly even limit in-home use of water, the River District board said.
The district already has responded to the drought with measures that include securing unused stored water for water users without adequate supplies, managing demand and stored water supplies to avoid depleting reservoirs and finding solutions to the loss of water from Green Mountain Reservoir in Summit County.
Other counties in the River District are Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Grand, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Gunnison, Pitkin, Delta, Ouray and portions of Montrose, Saguache and Hinsdale.
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