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Establishing a mineral lease legacy

By Sun Advocate

The Carbon County Commission supports the children and youth of our county. The skateboard park in Price, bike parks in East Carbon and Price, the fishing pond and ballfield renovations in Helper, renovations at Price/CEU ballfield complex, major upgrades at the County’s fairgrounds softball complex, motocross, outdoor arena, golf course youth program, and leisure service youth programs are some specific examples of this support.
Through mineral lease funding the Carbon County Recreation, Transportation Special Service District have also been excellent in supporting the Commission in this endeavor.
The Carbon County local mineral lease scholarship program is for the children and youth of our county. The mineral lease scholarships will go directly to the local student to attend CEU. To add local economic stimulus to the program, CEU recruiters must then recruit out-of-area students to attend CEU to match the numbers of local mineral lease scholarships awarded.
State and federal laws restrict the use of local mineral lease tax dollars that come to energy-impacted counties as a result of royalties coal, gas and oil companies pay to extract minerals on federal lands. In Carbon County local mineral lease funding can legally be used for recreation, transportation programs and infrastructure as well as for educational purposes.
At times, as a County Commissioner, I wish we had more legal flexibility to use local mineral lease funding to support other county needs such as public safety. But, we are bound by federal and state laws that govern distributions of the local mineral lease funding.
Energy producers in the county also remind me that the mineral lease funding is not permanent. In the next 15 to 20 years, major resource depletions in our local coal and gas industries could occur.
There are also tight legal restrictions on other county tax sources. For example, the counties 911 fund that derives funding from a portion of sales tax on local phone usages can only be used for 911 emergency dispatchers and equipment. Any surpluses from this fund cannot be transferred to support other county departments.
The counties restaurant tax fund also has legal restrictions regarding allocations from this fund.
While energy production is high in our county, earmarking a small portion of our local mineral lease funding to support a permanent local mineral lease scholarship endowment over the years would benefit thousands of our local students.
Using a portion of local mineral lease funding to help support local educational purposes is not unique to Carbon County. In our region, for the past five years, Uintah County has awarded local mineral lease scholarships to their children to attend college courses in Vernal. Uintah County Commissioners view this as an “economic tool” for their county.
Grand County also allocates a portion of their mineral lease funding for local educational purposes. I believe our children and our county deserves the same.
I recently met with local managers froin two of the largest mineral lease producing companies in the county, Sam Quigley, manager of two major coal mines and Kerry Farmer, manager of ConocoPhillips Gas. Each have expressed support for a local permanent mineral lease scholarship endowment program that is properly handled and well administered.
As a community, besides love, what better gift and legacy can we give our children?

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