County opposes Referendum A

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— The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday signed a resolution officially opposing Referendum A, a state proposal to approve up to $2 billion in revenues bonds for projects such as dams and new reservoirs.

The board's opposition comes after other groups, including Club 20, which represents counties on Colorado's Western Slope, and Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, also have opposed the proposal.

"The biggest concern regarding Referendum A for Western Slope water users is that projects haven't been identified," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

Without identifying which projects the bonds would support, Stahoviak said that residents cannot determine whether the projects would be a good use of their money.

She also said that the projects likely would not support agricultural water uses.

According to the resolution commissioners passed, drought solutions already are available and would be less financially risky than the $2 billion debt that Referendum A proposes.

Another problem with the proposal is that it permits large storage projects but would not provide money that could be used for smaller projects and conservation efforts, according to the commissioner's resolution.

One of the resolution's statements reads: "$2 billion of additional state debt that could add up to $4 billion with interest in an unlimited payback time is not needed, frivolous, will not be utilized by our local government, could cost the Colorado taxpayers much and drive Colorado further into debt."

Supporters of the referendum, including Gov. Bill Owens, have said that the proposal allows Colorado residents to work together to address the state's water needs.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger also said he didn't feel there were enough specifics in the referendum.

"(There's) no mandate in the referendum to actually provide bricks and mortar -- to actually build something," Monger said.

Hypothetically, the $2 billion could be used to buy up water rights and "dry up ranches right now," he said.

"No where in the whole (proposal) is it elaborated how this is going to be paid off. ... Basically, you and I are going to be responsible for this," Monger said.

Routt County commissioners said they have been asked by several groups and people to support a resolution opposing the proposal.

Voters will decide on Referendum A in November.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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