U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton met with Mesa County Commissioners this morning at the Commissioners’ offices in Grand Junction. Congressman Tipton is the U.S. House Representative from Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.
The Commissioners talked with Tipton about several issues important to Mesa County. Among them:
- Full funding of PILT, or Payments In Lieu of Taxes. Because 76 percent of Mesa County’s land is federal, the county cannot collect property taxes on that land. PILT are federal payments to local governments that help offset that loss of tax money and help local governments carry out such services as firefighting and road construction. Currently, the federal government must vote to extend PILT each year. Both the Commissioners and Congressman Tipton would like to see it fully, permanently funded.
- Stormwater runoff from federal lands. Stormwater runoff is water from rain or snow that does not absorb into the ground but flows over land. To meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, most stormwater runoff needs to be treated for pollutants or debris to maintain good water quality. Currently, stormwater runoff on federal lands in Mesa County is considered agricultural water. But EPA regulations could soon come into play. If that happens, the Commissioners will seek financial support from the federal government to treat the stormwater.
- Endangered species legislation. On Monday, the Commissioners signed a Notice of Intent to Sue the federal government over its designation of the Gunnison sage grouse as a threatened species. Endangered species legislation could be a threat to economic development in the West, said Congressman Tipton, who serves as the vice-chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, a group of U.S. House members who promote Western and rural interests in Congress.
- Grand Junction Airport. The Commissioners told Congressman Tipton about the current issues surrounding the Grand Junction Regional Airport including the uncompleted Administration Building and the status of future federal grants. Congressman Tipton suggested the Commissioners draft a Letter of Inquiry.