Category Archives: Policy

Beyond the Boom

The Rocky Mountain News did a series on the energy boom rocking parts of Colorado and how communities are enjoying, coping, and mitigating the impacts (or at least trying to). The series offers a a number of perspectives and the challenges involved in local-state-federal policy making and planning.

The day 1 article in the series, entitled “The billion dollar question: What if?”, is particularly interesting because two state legislators have taken seemingly opposite positions from the ones you would think they would take given their respective political ties. Their perspective is likely influenced by their location place in the state and the energy boom.

Representative Josh Penry, a Mesa County Republican, is witnessing the energy boom first hand and is a big supporter of creating a permanent trust fund from oil and gas severance taxes – similar to what Wyoming did a decade ago. Chris Romer, a Democratic Senator from the Denver Metro area, favors the more measured approach of analyzing how taxes are currently collected and allocated before the state tries to set up a permanent fund.

Who’s the conservative in this debate?

Read the entire series

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Garfield County sees explosive growth

Garfield County received front page space in the Sunday Denver Post due to the energy boom driving the county’s economy.

Jason Blevins story captures the essence of life in Garfield County since the boom began five years ago. As New Castle Mayor Frank Breslin says, “It’s just all happening so fast out here. I just dart around like a bumblebee.”

The economic growth has been a boon to a county mired in a slump cause by the overnight departure of Exxon (Black Sunday) in 1982 and the county now has more jobs than it has workers. The challenge for the public sector is to try tokeep up and pay for the infrastructure to support the increases in traffic, homes, and wastewater while competing with the gas companies for workers.

Blevins quotes Christy Hamrick, the finance director for Garfield County’s 4,500-student school district, “We pay drivers $14 an hour, and they pay $22 an hour. We have to compete with that, and we’ve seen lots of turnover. ”

Changes to state’s oil and gas commission moves closer to reality

The Colorado Senate endorsed Gov. Bill Ritter’s plan to overhaul the state’s oil and gas regulatory process.

The Senate approved House Bill 1341, which will expand and change the makeup of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to include environmental, wildlife, public health and landowner representatives.

The bill will reduce from five to three the number of industry voices while expanding the commission to nine members.

The seven-member panel is dominated by oil and gas
representatives, which critics say amounts to the industry regulating
itself.

Read the full article . . .

Steamboat debates new affordable housing policies

After a long meeting and extensive public comment, the Steamboat Springs City Council approved two resolutions that support eventual adoption of a controversial linkage policy. Linkage would require residential and commercial developers to compensate the city, either by a fee or by construction of affordable homes, for a percentage of the market-rate housing units or employees created by their new development. The Council tabled proposed revisions to the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance until May 1.

Read the full article . . .