County seeks to be part of United Power Solar Power Project

Gilpin Commissioners

By Staci McBrayer

The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) met on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at the Gilpin County Courthouse. Commissioner and Board Chair Gail Watson, Commissioner Buddy Schmalz and Commissioner Connie McLain were in attendance along with County Manager Roger Baker and County Attorney Brad Benning.

Annual Financial Report

John Cutler, Cutler & Associates, along with Finance Director Clorinda Smith, presented the BOCC with the 2013 Annual Financial Report. The Report is an independent auditor’s evaluation of the County’s financial statements for 2013. Highlights from Cutler & Associates report include:

–County assets ($43,052,143) exceeded County liabilities ($4,038,441.)

–The County continues to maintain an adequate current ratio of current assets to current liabilities (an indication of the ability to pay current obligations.) The 2013 ratio is 2.93 to 1 as compared to 2.53 to 1 for 2012.

–74% of the County’s net position is tied up in capital used to provide services to citizens.

–County revenues of $19,008,195 exceeded program expenses of $18,659,930 for an increase in net position of $348,265.

–The primary revenues for Gilpin County are property taxes (18%) and gaming taxes (49%). Gaming revenues account for 61% of total General Fund revenue. The General Fund provides funding for public safety, health, community development, maintenance, recreation, and general administration.

–Actual gaming revenue was $337,483 less than budget for 2013.

–There are no notable changes between 2012 and 2013 expenses by function other than the fact that total expenses increased $65,721 (an increase of less than 1%.)

–Ending fund balance for 2013 was $9,734,754 compared to $9,500,947 for 2012. The increase, according to Cutler, “is a result of conservative budgeting/spending measures practiced by Gilpin County.”

–A General Fund balance decrease occurred ($7,349,201 to $7,314,867)

–At the end of 2013, the County had outstanding debt totaling $3,366,950 for capital leases and compensated absences.

–No short term debt was needed to finance operations and capital outlay.

Cutler’s report looked to the future as well: “In 2014, the major source of budgeted revenue for Gilpin County continues to be gaming tax, authorized by the constitution of the State of Colorado. Gilpin County has exempted gaming tax revenue from TABOR, but has not exempted property tax revenue. With this combination of rules, if the amount of gaming tax revenues decreases, services could decrease or cost users more unless the voters approved a property tax increase. Gaming tax revenue currently allows Gilpin County great flexibility in the level of services it provides. In order to maintain services, the County is continuing to pursue all cost-effective sources of funding. County offices and departments continue to sustain services as best they can with the funding available.”

Request to Fill a Position

Sergeant Steve Watson of the Sheriff’s Office and Human Resources Director Susan Allen sought and received approval to fill a full time communications specialist position in the Sheriff’s Office dispatch center. Wages for the position were allocated in the current budget.

The position request is a revolving door for Watson, who says his department has not been fully staffed for four years. “Even if we staffed this position right now, it would be to the first of the year before we would be fully staffed due to the training program being 20 weeks long.”

Allen said that wages, location, the pool to draw from, the skill set required for the job and having to work rotating shifts and holidays makes it hard to fill, and retain, employees for the position.

The salary range Gilpin County is offering is $38,300 – $55,500 compared with the same position in Jefferson County offering $44,073.90 – $63,732.76.

Since 2011, 85 applicants have been tested as part of the interview process. Only 10 have been hired, and of those, only five are currently retained on staff. The dispatch office currently has eight employees (six dispatchers, one supervisor, and one sergeant.) Of these employees, only two have ten or more years of experience. The other six have less than three years, and two of those are currently in training.

Boundary Line Elimination

  Commissioners approved a Boundary Line Elimination (BLE) presented to them by County Planner Ray Rears. Two 1-acre lots in La Chula Vista Ranch will be combined. The applicants, Curt and Beth Kane, are planning to build a new home on the now 2-acre parcel.

To date, the County has approved 486 BLEs that have resulted in a net reduction of 1563 potential building sites.

Opposing Amendment 68

Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Amendment 68. The resolution states that a “financially struggling Rhode Island casino with a history of legal problems that proposes to amend the Colorado Constitution to grant itself exclusive rights to open a mega-casinos in Arapahoe County” sponsors Amendment 68.

No mega-casino currently exists in Colorado. However, Amendment 68 would also open the possibility for the same casino, and only that casino, to open mega-casinos in Pueblo and Mesa Counties.

The resolution points out that Amendment 68 supersedes the existing constitutional requirement for local approval. Upon its passage, the three counties would be forced to accept the casinos without revenue to deal with the impact of such casinos.

Additionally, Gilpin’s new resolution states that Amendment 68 “defies common sense by promising to generate more tax dollars with 2,500 gambling devices than is raised by the 14,647 devices that currently exist in the three mountain casino towns.”

13 MW United Power Project

Jerry Marizza and Rick Newman of United Power met with Commissioners to discuss using Gilpin land for a solar power project. In 2015, United Power will have the opportunity to install 13 MW of solar generation in Colorado. Marizza and Newman were present to give Gilpin County first crack at having one of the four to five locations needed to make the 13 MW project a reality.

To put in perspective just how big a 13 MW project is, Marizza said that United Power has collected 1 MW on all installed on-home solar unit since 2008. In 2011, the company collected 3 MW from landfill generation. In 2012, 2 MW was collected from a solar field project.

Marizza said the systems must be online by July 1, 2015 in order to receive maximum state benefits. “Solar rebates are going to disappear in the near future, and we want to make sure this cash incentive is still available for all involved,” Marizza told Commissioners.

The first priority would be to identify land within the County adjacent to a United Power feeder line by October 1st. Commissioners preferred seeking County owned land first, but would not be against private land as an alternative should no County land meet the requirements of the project.

United Power prefers the sites be 15-acres each with few trees and relatively flat terrain. Marizza said a lease of $1,000-$2,000 per acre per year is up for discussion as is the possibility of United Power offsetting a Gilpin County facility attached to the acreage with the power produced by the project.

“We don’t know what the County owns, and we don’t know where a lot of it is,” County Tony Peterson said referring to the numerous county owned mine claims. A follow-up meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 11:30 to identify possible sites from County owned land. Extension Advisory Committee Appointment

Dave Walker was appointed by BOCC members to serve on the Gilpin County Extension Advisory Committee. Walker has lived in the County since 1987. He is a certified arborist and owns/operates a tree service in Boulder.

2015 Holiday Report

Commissioners approved the 2015 Holiday Schedule. 2015 will see the inclusion of the Easter Holiday on the County calendar. County offices will be closed Friday, April 3rd in observance of the Easter Holiday. Twelve other dates were also approved as part of the County Holiday Schedule.

Notice of Public Meetings

–Public Health meeting, Monday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m.

–Commissioner goals work session, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 9 a.m.

–Jail tour, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 10 a.m.

–Solar Site Meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 11:30

–Senior Housing, Tuesday, Sept. 16, Sharon Perea’s, 6 p.m.;

–Five-County Breakfast, Wed., Sept. 17, 9 a.m. Public Health Options Work Session

 Dr. Mark Johnson, Public Health Director for Jefferson County Public Health, along with several members of his staff, met with the BOCC to discuss public health options. Jefferson County Public Health contracts with Gilpin County to provide public health and many environmental health services.

The first item of discussion was how to handle daily business in the Public Health Office with the unscheduled retirement of Gilpin County Public Health Coordinator Ann Marie Bailey. Bailey’s retirement was effective at the end of August, which leaves staffing the Public Health Office on Norton Drive difficult until her replacement is found. Commissioners discussed having Office Assistant Shannon Cook fill in the gap to help keep the Public Health Office open.

With Bailey’s departure, the County has an opportunity to re-evaluate what County residents needs are for public health. Public Health has been making a shift away from clinical care, so the county will keep that in mind as it looks at what Gilpin’s residents need in terms of public health. Questions arose as to whether Gilpin needed a nurse in the position or a non-nurse coordinator. Commissioners want to continue to have Jefferson County Public Health offer all the services it currently does, however, would like to allow JeffCo to operate the current Public Health Office in the most efficient manner possible.

Next Meeting

The next scheduled meeting for the BOCC is on September 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. on the 2nd floor of the Gilpin County Courthouse, 203 Eureka Street, Central City, Colorado.



Photo Caption: Public Health Office Assistant Shannon Cook discusses some of the public health needs with Commissioners at their last meeting. 

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