Locals in the mid-valley’s Crown Mountain Park & Recreation district will be asked this spring to hike their own property taxes a bit, in order to maintain and improve the 124-acre El Jebel park.  The official amount being sought is just under 2 “mills,” which could generate about $695,000 a year.  About half of that would go toward maintaining the park.  If property owners don’t approve the increase, park officials and fans say anything that goes on there, including youth sports events, even things as simple as plowing the snow on the park’s road and parking lot, would have to be reconsidered.  The tax hike would add about $14 to an owner’s bill, for each $100,000 their home’s worth.  Ballots for the May 8th election are expected to be in the mail by the 20th of next month.

Another tax issue…  The Post-Independent and Aspen Times are reporting the Encana oil & gas company made a bookkeeping error and paid too much in local property taxes, to the tune of nearly $6 million dollars, 4 years ago.  That means Garfield County and multiple special tax districts are going to have to pay it back.  The Garfield County Commissioners came up with a settlement last week, determining how much each entity has to pay.  The initial mistake was in how Encana calculated the value of the natural gas it produced back in 2014.  Both the county’s public school districts, along with Colorado Mountain College, fire departments, and others, will owe a collective $3.8 million, and Garfield County itself about $1.9 mil.  There’ll also be some payments of interest, money that can be covered by the county’s “Oil & Gas Mitigation Fund.”

If you want to make your voice heard in this year’s elections more than by just showing up in the fall and voting, the long road to November begins tomorrow.  That’s with the Republican & Democratic caucus process in each county.  It’ll begin in each precinct, in each town, at a variety of locations, at 7:00 tomorrow night.  Delegates to next month’s state party conventions will start getting chosen.  Also, certain races will be discussed in each party.  Some candidates for Governor are hoping to get on the ballot through the caucuses, others by gathering petition signatures.  Check with your county or your county party, to make sure of your caucus location.

And congratulations to a couple Basalt High School seniors, Oswaldo Morales and Alex Seibert, the recipients of this year’s Chick Evans Scholarships, for golf caddies.  The Evans scholarships cover tuition and housing for 4 years at CU in Boulder.  Seibert & Morales worked as a lot of local youth do, at the Roaring Fork Club.  They’re the club’s 14th & 15th recipients of the Evans scholarship.  They had to work dozens of golf rounds and maintain at least an A-  grade average in high school