Frequently Asked Questions.
What is your position on in-situ uranium mining in Park County and the potential use of water taxes to combat mining operations?
When I decided to run for commissioner, I understood that the job requires the candidate to be concerned for the entire county, not just the district that he, or she, happens to live in. I worked in the mining industry for many years and have some insight into how mining companies view projects like this one. I have personally observed an in-situ uranium mining operation in Texas and am all too familiar with the potential environmental contamination. Unless I am mistaken, this type of mining will not create many jobs when compared to the potential for disruption. It is disheartening to learn that we could be forced to allow uranium mining in a residential neighborhood if that turns out to be the case. I believe citizens are justifiably concerned about the negative impact on their lives of an in-situ uranium mining venture so close to their homes.
I plan to attend both the meeting in Fairplay and the one in Hartsel. I need to learn as much as I can and I believe that these two meetings will prove to be instructional. I hope that the county requirement that they must comply with our LURs, and go through the 1041 process, holds up legally. That process offers some protection for our citizens. But, we all know that federal and state laws are heavily weighted in favor of mining in Colorado and it will mean a tough battle. I doubt that anyone living in Park County would want a mining operation of any kind in their backyard.
With respect to your question about the use water taxes to combat mining operations, I can only offer the following thoughts. Because I am new to County tax regulation, I cannot say whether or not the water sales tax may be used, nor do I know whether or not these funds can be diverted for combating a mining operation. What I think is that the county should seek sufficient funding to bring in qualified, independent technical expertise for the environmental, health and safety issues before this project goes much further. Our current environmental staff is dedicated and does a good job, but they will need all the help they can get. The mining of uranium and the potential for the release of contaminants into aquifers or onto the surrounding surface areas will require a third party, specialized mining expertise and we should not rely on the assurances by the executives of a small mining company no matter how sincere they seem to be. This may be just the beginning of in-situ uranium mining ventures in Park County and I would support finding funds for the protection of our citizens. My thought is to require the mining company to provide the funds rather than taking money from the taxpayers.
I am also concerned that a small company, as I believe this one to be, may not have the resources to fully comply with the requirements for the necessary health and environmental safeguards, not to mention recovery after they leave. Even the major mining companies struggle to stay in compliance with health, safety and environmental requirements. Too often smaller mining companies prove difficult to hold accountable for their actions leaving behind major problems for others.
What is your position on the maintenance of roads in Park County? What, if any, effect does the County's declining infrastructure have on the availably of mortgage loans
With my business background, I can see the need for some additional management oversight. It will be a high priority for me. I regard the R&B problems as one the foremost issues in the county.
Past experience has taught me that often when there are financial problems, the source of the problem is in the budgeting process and/or how funds (revenues) are allocated. It is one of the first places that I want to look into.
In regards to the County's declining infrastructure effecting mortgage loans, I had not considered the effect of declining county infrastructure on mortgages and in so doing probably affecting property values. It is definitely food for thought.