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KVNF Regional Newscast: December 15, 2023

LeValley Ranch
LeValley Ranch
Downtown Paonia

Colorado's 2023 fiscal year revenue exceeded expectations– so much so that taxpayers could see a larger TABOR refund, reports the Daily Sentinel. A recent special session replaced the typical tiered sales tax refund with equal amounts for all taxpayers, based on the expected surplus.

Furthermore, a separate audit found seven state agencies maintaining excessive cash reserves totaling about $48.5 million, breaching permissible levels under TABOR. These reserves prompted limitations on agency spending until compliance is restored.

Colorado’s Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board will not cap the price of a life-saving medication for cystic fibrosis.

The Colorado Sun reports the board voted unanimously against capping the price at a hearing last week. The medication, called Trifafka, has been hailed as a miracle drug for cystic fibrosis patients. It has a cost of almost three hundred thousand dollars per year, but insurance cuts that for most patients to just under nine thousand dollars.

Coloradans living with cystic fibrosis told the board they were worried a price cap would prompt the drug’s manufacturer to stop selling the medication in the state. A price cap on the drug would have been the first of its kind in the country.

The Colorado Ag Water Alliance is giving away $1 Million to Colorado farmers looking to improve their water efficiency.

The group wants to fund ideas for long-term drought resilience, and are supporting many projects around the state. They want to identify practices that keep farms and ranches profitable during drought, and scale up those projects. The agency is giving grants ranging from $2,000 to $30,000, and while matching funds are not required, applications with matching funds will be more competitive.

Successful projects will help test concepts and collect data that can demonstrate the ability to either reduce water use and/or increase long-term resilience to reduced water supplies. Applicants must meet with the Colorado Ag Water Appliance to discuss their project in order to be considered for funding.

Farm Friday: Today’s ranchers need as many tools in their arsenal as possible to keep up with modern ranching practices. One area ranch is using the latest technology to manage cattle near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. KVNF’s Lisa Young has the details.

The Town of Paonia is planning on a water rate increase to keep up with water-related loan obligations and pivotal infrastructure needs. Paonia Town Administrator Stefen Wynn laid out a proposal this week for a five-year plan for water rate increases.

The proposed schedule outlines a gradual rise in rates for different user categories. This approach, as explained previously by Wynn, allows for flexibility in case of any loan principal forgiveness from the Colorado State Revolving Fund.

He noted that once the five-year window comes to an end, the town can reevaluate the plan. These changes will take effect on January 1.

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Cassie moved to Montrose from Texas in April 2020, right before COVID changed the landscape of the world as we knew it. She brought her love of people and a degree in broadcast journalism to the Western Slope, where she built a strong foundation in local print news. She’s excited to join the KVNF family and grow as a reporter. For Cassie, her job as a journalist is to empower the community through knowledge and information. When she’s not researching and reporting, Cassie loves to spend time with her cat, Jasper, and paint something new.<br/><br/>