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SAN JUAN PLANS TAX HIKE, SEEKS BUDGET GIVE-BACKS

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The San Juan County Commission plans a tax hike and has asked all department heads to give back 5 percent to 6 percent of their budgets to help meet a shortfall.

Commissioner Bill Redd said the county is expecting a $537,000 shortfall due to state revaluation of energy-producing properties, including oil and gas wells. Additionally, the price of oil is soft, depressing the value of oil properties.In two weeks the commission will raise the tax rate to the legal limit, Redd said Monday. That could mean a yearly increase of over $150 for the average homeowner.

Redd said the departments "are half to three-fourths of the way through the year's budget and we're asking for a whole year's 5 percent, so that is going to squeeze them for the rest of the year."

The commission also imposed a hiring freeze, including not replacing employees who leave during the rest of the year.