From the Durango Herald (Joe Hanel): “The Legislature’s budget committee wanted to increase well fees to $665 starting March 1, a dramatic and sudden jump from the current $100. Senate Bill 216 was the last and most controversial part of the budget-balancing package for the 2008-09 year. Rural lawmakers forced the bill to be sent to the House Agriculture Committee, which voted 9-4 against the fees Tuesday. Instead, the bill now takes about $530,000 out of the Governor’s Energy Office to make up this year’s deficit in the State Engineer’s Office, which administers water rights…
“The fight is far from over. The full House and full Senate have to approve the Agriculture Committee’s action on SB 216, and even then, the bill doesn’t provide enough money to hire more water commissioners who will be needed this spring, said State Engineer Dick Wolfe. And Wolfe’s office is $2.5 million short for the next budget year, which starts July 1. Curry’s Agriculture Committee will continue to work on providing funds for the State Engineer’s Office budget today.
“The Colorado Water Congress supported a smaller fee increase, and several representatives said Tuesday that water fees will have to increase in the future to keep the State Engineer’s Office properly funded.”
More Coyote Gulch coverage here.