Following the passage of House Bill 11-1218, the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District (“the District”) was formed on June 13, 2011, by the Board of County Commissioners of Garfield County through Resolution No. 11-31 and pursuant to the Federal Mineral Lease District Act, C.R.S., § 30-20-1301 et seq, (2011) (“the Act”).
Appointments for the District’s inaugural Board of Directors, Gregg Rippy, Mike Samson, and Eric Schmela, were finalized on July 11, 2011 by Resolution 11-39. The District held the first meeting of the Board of Directors on August 10, 2011, in Glenwood Springs, CO, electing Gregg Rippy the District’s first President and Eric Schmela its first Secretary, developing its initial governing documents, and establishing its first accounts with Alpine Bank. The State’s Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Banking, assigned the District its Public Deposit Protection Act (PDPA) identification numbers August 31, 2012.
In early September, the District received its first annual distribution of federal mineral lease payments from the State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs, and adopted its first budget. The initial distribution was $3,526,395.74.
Meanwhile, county attorneys and commissioners from the eight counties that had formed mineral lease districts in 2011 (Delta, Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Park, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Weld), formed a working group to target needed improvements in the 2011 legislation. The working group worked with various stakeholders throughout the summer and fall to produce draft legislation that became SB 12-31.
SB 12-31 was signed into law on April 6, 2012, and gave much needed direction to all mineral lease districts in Colorado. Among other clarifications, it recognized every Colorado federal mineral lease district as an independent public body politic and corporate, not an agency of county or state government and not subject to administrative direction by any department, commission, board, or agency of a county or the state. SB 12-31 made the District’s powers statutory. The District cannot levy or collect taxes and does not have the power of eminent domain.
In response to SB 12-31, four of the original eight counties that had formed mineral lease districts in 2011 reaffirmed their districts in 2012: Garfield, Mesa, Park, and Weld.
Federal law limits how lease payments distributed to the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District can be used. The distribution may only be used by the state, or its political subdivisions, for (1) planning, (2) construction and maintenance of public facilities, or (3) provision of public services. See 30 U.S.C. §191.
The District launched its inaugural grant program on April 24, 2012, with an open house and informational meeting in Glenwood Springs. Its first website was launched the same day.
In 2012, the District awarded $1,615,703 to seven applicants in its Spring Cycle, all for capital improvements. The District Board added its Mini Grant Program for the Fall Cycle and awarded a total of $1,627,958 to applicants in both Programs.
In January of 2013 the First Annual Awards Luncheon was held at the Hotel Denver in Glenwood Springs, recognizing all successful applicants for 2012.