Commissioners set wheels in motion to acquire more water for County purposes

Fire mitigation grant opportunity

By Lynn Volkens

Gilpin County Commissioners Buddy Schmalz, Connie McLain and Gail Watson met the morning of July 9, 2013. They discussed the County’s emergency operations plan, leasing water from Denver, applying for fire mitigation grant funding and other more routine business.

Coyote Liquors Renewal

  Commissioners, acting as the Local Liquor Licensing Authority, renewed the annual liquor license for Roger Guzman, owner of Black Hawk Development Corporation, doing business as Coyote Liquor located at 533 Highway 119.

Clerk and Recorder’s Report

  Gilpin County Clerk and Recorder Colleen Stewart’s May report showed the department’s revenue for that month at $167,763. Of that, $85,448 was disbursed to the State; $62,264 to the County Treasurer; $1,082 to Central City; $100 to the State Domestic Abuse Fund; $89 to Black Hawk; $27 to Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) fund; $15 to the State Health Fund; and $18,739 was retained by the County Clerk’s office. Motor vehicle late registration fees raised $4,895 in revenue and the uninsured motorist fees, $1,883. The Clerk’s office recorded 26 home sales in May and 31 other property transfers. Seventy-one new titles were issued for cars.  The office also issued the County’s first civil union license.

Emergency Operations Plan

  Commissioners reviewed the County’s Emergency Operations Plan which is used to identify the roles various agencies are to play in the event of a major emergency or disaster. The plan provides a framework to coordinate the response by the various local, state and federal agencies based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The plan covers prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for such disasters as wildfire, flood, severe winter storms, drought, landslides, dam failure, earthquake, terrorism and tornadoes. Commissioner Watson suggested that the plan be honed to focus on the types of events most likely to occur in Gilpin. Emergency Director Steve Watson plans to assess the various risks and return to the Commissioners’ table for another review of the plan in August.

Denver Water Lease

County Attorney Jim Petrock recommended the County take advantage of an opportunity to permanently lease 5 acre-feet of water from the City of Denver’s Moffat Collection System on South Boulder Creek. Commissioners directed Petrock to move forward in pursuing a permanent lease. There is a one-time cost of $182,644 and an annual payment of $1,901. The one-time fee consists of a system development charge of $32,470 per acre-foot, a total of $162,350, plus a 12.5 % surcharge ($20,294). Petrock described it as “basically a tap fee” designed to cover some of Denver Water’s infrastructure costs. Petrock noted that the Denver water isn’t cheap, but the proposal “presents a great deal and is more reliable and likely cheaper than any water the County could pursue on South Boulder Creek or elsewhere.” Gilpin’s need for additional water for the Road and Bridge Department continues to grow and South Boulder Creek is the closest source of water in the northern part of the County. This water source could also serve as a failsafe to cover the water augmentation needs at the Justice Center should there ever not be enough water generated by the County’s Ralston Creek rights. The County currently leases water from Denver on an annual basis for a fee of around $2,000. Commissioners expressed concerns at coming up with “a couple hundred thousand” but noted that water is a priority and they will find it in next year’s budget (when this deal would take effect), if they decide to go through with it.

Facilities Department New Position

  Commissioners approved the creation of a new position titled Facilities Project Manager and Maintenance Technician, for the Facilities Management Department. The job position was created by combining project manager duties and maintenance technician duties currently being performed by Maintenance Technician, Dirk Matthews. The new position represents a one-step grade change, an hourly wage increase of $1.10 hourly and a total fiscal impact of $2,288 annually. Facilities Manager Bill Paulman said his current budget could absorb the increase. Matthews will be move into the new position, which is designated as Grade 85 and a pay range of $20.49 to $29.67 per hour.

Employee Handbook Amendments

County Manager Roger Baker suggested several changes to the Employee Handbook, including allowing the County Manager to waive the 208-hour limit on accrued vacation hours for full-time employees. Currently, when a person leaves the County’s employ, he or she will be paid 100% of accrued unused vacation time up to 208 hours. For the first year of employment, full-time employees earn vacation time at the rate of three hours per bi-weekly pay period. Full-time employees who have been with the County 2 – 5 years earn vacation time at the rate of four hours for each bi-weekly pay period; 6-10 years earns six hours per bi-weekly pay period; and for employees of 11 or more years, eight hours per each bi-weekly pay period. Part-time employees, who work at least 24 hours per week, earn vacation time at half the rate of full-time employees. The same waiver and unused vacation pay policies apply for part-timers, but the limit is 104 hours.  County employees are encouraged to take their earned vacation time each year.

Commissioners approved the changes, noting that five weeks of vacation time accrued every year is very generous and advising employees not to stockpile it. Baker described this change as a “stop-gap” solution, using as an example, a situation when a department manager is short-staffed and must choose either to take vacation, and leave the public underserved, or lose the accrued vacation time. For the time being, Baker will review those extreme cases and decide whether to allow the waiver, however, a longer-term solution will need to be found, he said.

Lake Street Variance Request

  Jorge Gutierrez and Ian Ward requested, but were denied, a variance to construct a garage 18 feet from the north property line at the home at 177 Lake Street in Skydale Subdivision. County regulations require a 30 foot variance unless a variance is issued. The 0.62-acre lot in question was created in 1998 by combining two lots and is exceptionally narrow, just 100 feet wide, but that was not enough to convince Commissioners of the need for a variance. Letters from the residents of four of the neighboring properties had expressed objections to the variance. Ward pointed out that only a portion of the planned structure would encroach on the setback, specifically a deck and an exterior staircase. Without those features, the building meets the setback requirements. Ward said he could omit the deck and put the stairs inside, although that wasn’t his preference.

Missouri Lakes BLE

  Robert, Sandra, John, Nicole and James Palmer requested and received a Boundary Line Elimination combining Missouri Lakes Filing #1 Block, 001, Lots 70 (0.88 acres) and 71(0.39 acres) into Lot 70A of 1.31 acres. This is the first BLE approved for 2013. Since the BLE program began in 1987, the County has granted 472 BLE’s and reduced the buildable lots in the County by 1,546. The program was designed to help preserve Gilpin’s rural environment.

Wildfire Mitigation Grant

Thanks to Senate Bill 269, championed by Senator Jeanne Nicholson, there will be grant funding available for fire mitigation efforts in Colorado. Gilpin County is working with the CSU Extension Office, Forest Service and Timberline Fire Protection District to apply for the funding, which can be used by private homeowners to fell trees and chip slash. The deadline for the grant application is July 17, 2013 as the intent is to get the work started this year. Work must be completed within 18 months. If the grant is awarded, the County, and possibly Timberline, will need to chip in some funding. Commissioners approved pursuing the grant but limited their match amount commitment to no more than $10,000. The grant requires the hiring of a Wildland Fire Mitigation Specialist to oversee the work for 18 months. Commissioner Watson said Timberline had a firefighter in mind for the position; that half of his salary would be paid for by the grant; and that Timberline is hoping to morph the temporary position into a full-time position within Timberline. However, recognizing that there may be other qualified mitigation specialists interested in the position, Commissioners may explore the possibility of seeking other qualified candidates for the job, as well.

Departmental Reports

  The Human Resources June report shows seven new employees hired last month, only one was full-time. The county currently employs 187 people. The Human Resources department is working with the Sheriff’s Office on a proposal to pay Field Training Officers while training new recruits. Human Resources Director Susie Allen is also overseeing a focus group to discuss the impact of vacation accruals.

At the Parks and Recreation Department, the June report shows 1,260 individuals visiting the Community Center for a total of 4,468 visits. Of these, 1,016 people were Gilpinites who used the facility a total of 3,532 times. Revenue for the month totaled $6,925. The children’s summer camp program has as many as 26 participants per day. Adult COED softball is ongoing with 11 teams and a 55-game schedule. Little League has ended.

The Sheriff’s Office, Detentions Division June report shows 80 bookings for that month (64 male). The breakdown of arrests by agency: Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, 37; Black Hawk Police Department, 17; Central City Police Department, 13; Division of Gaming, 8; and Colorado State Patrol, 5. Of those arrested, nine were Gilpinites and 66 of the arrests were gaming-related. The average daily population at the jail was 40 inmates.

At the Community Development Department, the May report shows revenue of $4,638 with $3,000 of that generated by Planning fees. Cases for the month numbered 27, the bulk of them related to Individual Sewage Disposal Systems. The county issued one permit for new construction and six permits for construction related to existing structures. The department reduces fees to encourage construction using alternative energy and fire resistant components. The use of both resulted in a reduction of $9,000 for one permit applicant.

Gilpin’s on Facebook

  County Manager Baker reported that Gilpin County’s Facebook page now has a weekly total reach of 1,964 distinct individuals. Social media is not the only method of reaching out to the public, he noted, but the County has added it to the mix and it appears that more people are using it.

Sign Code Revision

  Commissioners reviewed a proposal to change the County’s sign code regarding the location and placement of signs. Proposed changes include exempting some signs such as offsite directional signs leading to points-of-interest owned and operated or maintained by governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. Commissioners plan to seek the Planning Commission’s input prior to holding a public hearing before actually changing the code.

Public Comment

  A Gilpin resident expressed his concerns with safety issues and the aesthetics of the new bulk propane storage site that has been constructed along Highway 46 across from the fairgrounds. He said the storage tanks were likely safe, but that filling and unloading the trucks is where problems are most likely to occur and that a gas leak could potentially put people at risk who are in all of the nearby County facilities, as well as the neighbors. He said berms which were meant to hide the tanks did not fit the topography and were unsightly. He also said that neighbors to the property were unaware of the plans to use it for bulk propane storage and asked that there be more dialogue with the community in any future developments.

Community Center Fee Waiver

  It was the consensus of Commissioners to allow free memberships to the Gilpin County Community Center for people who are disabled.

Work Session

  Following the business meeting, Commissioners conducted a work session to discuss the Veterans Services Officer position with Gilpin’s new Veteran Services Officer, Todd Kumro.

Heads Up

  Gilpin County Commissioners meet next on July 23, 2013.

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