Dolores County explains Search & Rescue expenses and proposed sales tax


· Dolores County

"A county sales tax will help recover funds from the loss of revenue from oil and gas” 

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Dolores County Courthouse at Dove Creek, Colorado

photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Dolores County recently published a brochure describing the need for a countywide sales tax and unavoidable Search & Rescue (SAR) expenses. These are reprinted or summarized below.

The next Dolores County Sales Tax Forum Workshops are scheduled:

May 4, 2022    - Wednesday - 6:00PM

May 18, 2022 - Wednesday - 6:00PM



Who pays for Search & Rescue missions? 

2022 Dolores County
Search & Rescue Budget
General Fund Expenditures

General           $ 10,000
Utilities                    500
DOLA Grant      16,000
Training    2,500

Total    $ 29,000

Dolores County
Policies & Financials

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Summary of statement from Dolores County SAR Captain/Colorado State SAR Coordinator Keith Keesling

- Dolores County email April 21, 2021 -

  • Colorado Statutes require County Sheriff departments to provide Search & Rescue service.
  • Colorado hunting and fishing licenses include a 50 cents SAR fund contribution.
  • Counties may apply for State of Colorado SAR funds to recover rescue expenses when rescuing someone who has paid this fee.
  • In Dolores County, only about half of SAR missions involve rescuing someone who has paid into the fund.
  • 95% of the people rescued in Dolores County are NOT from Dolores County.
  • This places an unfair burden on the taxpayers of Dolores County because the County is REQUIRED by law to save people in the backcountry – no matter where they are from.
  • Labor provided by volunteer SAR members reduces rescue missions expenses.


Dolores County Sales Tax Brochure 

reprint of statements
describing need
for countywide sales tax

Dolores County needs to come up with a viable plan that is low cost to its residents but will recoup the loss of Oil and Gas revenue from the last few years, and secure the uncertainty of Operating Grants and Contributions, while placing the burden on every individual passing through doing business in our County, not just Property Owners.

A county sales tax will help recover funds from the loss of revenue from oil and gas, and capture taxes on tourism, non local hunters, recreation users, and individuals traveling through doing business transactions in our county. This takes the burden of taxes off of just our local property owners. Having a county wide sales tax allows the ability to acquire the lost revenue from online purchases.

In 2021 local businesses generated $12,877,348.50 in taxable sales. Online purchases generated $18,991,171.50 in taxable sales – both of which excluding any exemptions the State has in place. Even with a small tax implemented, the County should be able to collect revenue to infill the loss of oil and gas revenue, that does not put a hardship on its residents and shares the burden with anyone doing business in the County. Dollar General is building a new store in the unincorporated area of Dolores County, the only taxes collected will be the 2.9% State Sales Tax.

When we go to Cortez and shop at Wal-mart we pay a 2.9% sales tax, 4.05% City Sales tax, 0.04% special tax, for a total of 7.35% without a second thought. We need to start investing into Dolores County with the same method, and attitude. Dolores County is a beautiful place, and is growing, which will bring added revenue as well as expense.

There are 64 counties in Colorado, 10 of those counties do not have a county sales tax, 7 of those counties still have viable oil and gas property tax revenue due to high oil and gas production in their counties. 3 of the 10 counties are currently considering implementing a county wide sales tax due to the decline from Oil and Gas revenues.

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To find out about our next public tax forum call (970)677-2383 or go to

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Three charts in Dolores County brochure were created by Ore Cart and published March 9, 2022:
Dolores County considers sales tax




Things you will NOT be taxed on

Certain items of tangible personal property can be exempt from sales and use tax. Listed are exemptions Dolores County would put in place and a few examples of what is included in each defined exemption.

Exemptions are put in place as to not tax essential needs such as food for home consumption, Ag use, heat for homes, and other essential necessities.


  1. Farm equipment and machinery 
  2. Supplies: twine, parts, pallets and shipping equipment, irrigation equipment
  3. Livestock
  4. Livestock feed, vaccines, ear tags and electronic identification
  5. Dairy equipment

Food for Domestic Home Consumption

  1. Food purchased for human consumption at home
  2. Seeds and plants which produce food for home consumption
  3. Food purchased with food stamps and WIC Vouchers


Gas, Electricity, and other specified fuels for residential use
Charitable Organizations
Renewable Energy Components
Sales for the benefit of Colorado Schools, School Activities, and School Organizations