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Turtleback paid for regardless of vote; and without county general funds

Questions have been raised whether San Juan County Land Bank can pay off its bonds for the purchase of Turtleback Mountain if the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) isn't renewed. Land Bank Director Lincoln Bormann says the answer is yes.

 

Two bonds were issued for the Land Bank's portion of the purchase. (The San Juan Preservation Trust also paid for part of the mountain.)

A $8,985,000 bond ends in 2014. It is being paid for by revenue from the REET which expires in 2014 unless the voters renew the Land Bank.

The other bond, for $4,505,000, runs to 2036. It is paid for from revenue from the conservation futures levy. In 2011 the levy collected $277,205. The rate is $.034 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. This levy does not need to be renewed by voters. An  increase in the levy rate would require a vote.

Bormann said the Land Bank made adjustments to its budget when the REET revenue dropped by 50 percent when the recession hit. The 'balancing act is how much is in the stewardship fund". That fund is for taking care of the Land Bank properties. He said the organization has made do with less, volunteers contributed work equivalent to one FTE (full time equivalent)  this past year.

The Land Bank has also turned to different kinds of projects  such as trail easements, which are donated rather than purchased.

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