Commissioners demand refund from drainage district

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- Mesa County commissioners say people who paid a fee to the Grand Valley Drainage District should get their money back.

Last week, a judge ruled the Grand Valley Drainage District fee was unconstitutional and violated the taxpayer bill of rights. Many who paid into it are now wondering if and when they'll see a refund.

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis said drainage is a major issue in the valley and that there should be a valley-wide authority to handle it. He feels it shouldn’t be handled in the manner that is has been with the Grand Valley Drainage District.

"You can't just raise a tax without a vote of the people. You can't call it a fee,” said McInnis. “You can't put lipstick on a pig and call it a horse."

Since the fee was implanted in 2016, the drainage district said they have collected a little more than $7 million.

"That's a public entity, they need to reveal their finances so everybody knows how much money they've raised off of this illegal tax," said McInnis.

The county said that money should be given back to the people who have paid.

"We are insisting, we are demanding, that they immediately issue some kind of plan…how they're going to do the refunds,” said McInnis.

"If there's no appeal, which we haven't even discussed yet, then yes, they will get their money back," said Cody Davis, the Grand Valley Drainage District board president.

The district on Monday said they are abiding by the current ruling that the plaintiffs in the case-- the Grand Junction Chamber and Mesa County—will not be charged with the fee anymore.

"That money was taken illegally from the citizens of this County, and they are entitled to get their money back,” said McInnis.

Another issue may arise, in the 42 page ruling, the words “repay” or “refund” are nowhere to be found.

The drainage district still has information on their website about how to pay the fee. They said they will be discussing refunds and the future of the district in an executive meeting on Tuesday.



 
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