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Government tracker: Congressman, county commissioners meet

Board: Eagle County Commissioners.

Meeting: Monday’s work session.

Present: Jill Ryan, Jeanne McQueeney, Kathy Chandler-Henry.

Who they talked to: Rep. Scott Tipton. Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District includes much of Eagle County.

What they talked about: Tipton and a pair of aides — along with a video camera-toting tracker from a Democratic political action committee — chatted with the commissioners for about an hour.

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Tipton talked about trying to restore funding to the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which reimburses local governments for tax revenue lost by having federal property in a town or county. Tipton said he’s been advocating in Congress to restore those funds.

Ryan said a good example of using the federal funds is a recent agreement that helps reimburse the town of Vail for the Vail Fire Department’s emergency response work on Vail Pass. That part of the county isn’t in any fire district, Ryan said, which means the town of Vail is paying for that service.

LOCAL WATER RIGHTS

Tipton also talked to the commissioners about protecting local water rights that originate on federal land. Tipton said federal agencies have backed off a previous demand for those water rights, but added that without legislation, those agencies could propose a similar new rule at any time.

TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS

Ryan asked Tipton about Interstate 70 and other transportation problems. Tipton said he’s working on a bill that could use federal funds generated by taxes charged to energy development companies for transportation. But, he added, adding to current federal transportation tax revenues must be balanced by the realization that people in rural America tend to drive more, while earning less than people who live in urban areas.

‘RESPONSIBLE’ REGULATION

The commissioners also talked to Tipton about funding for early-childhood programs. Tipton — who said he’s a believer in “responsible” regulation — said he’d like to find a way to return money to the states without the usual federal regulatory strings attached.

The ultimate answer, Tipton said, is to get the nation’s economy “truly moving” again, adding that the current U.S. labor force participation rate is the lowest in 37 years.


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