Gilpin Commissioners review county housing needs

Requests for School Resource Officer and Fleet Services Supervisor

By Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) met September 24. Those present were Commissioners Buddy Schmalz, Chairman, Connie McLain, and Gail Watson, County Manager Roger Baker, Deputy Clerk to the Board Sharon Cate, and Brad Benning, the Assistant County Attorney.

Public Comment

Scott Murphy spoke to the BOCC about having a police presence at Gilpin County School. He was concerned, especially after a bullet being found at the school recently, that there was no full time school resource officer (SRO) at the school at this point in the school year. Murphy understood it to be a matter of funding. The School Board was willing to fund $35,000, or about half the cost of an SRO; Murphy’s request was that the BOCC fund the other half.

Dana Jones, disagreed about having the County fund a SRO on a long-term basis. “I am not in the school district,” she said. “I pay taxes in the Boulder Valley District.” She favored considering applying for grants or having the School Board pay for a SRO.

Kris Icenogle, said the son of a friend had found the bullet referred to by Murphy. She emphasized that parents would feel safer with a police presence. She stated that many who live in Gilpin pay Boulder Valley taxes and are paying for a SRO at other schools besides Gilpin. Icenogle felt it was a county issue and wanted to see the BOCC get involved.

Jean Walsh requested that the BOCC issue a proclamation making November Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. She advised that her mother had died of this disease, that there is less than a five-year survival rate, and that there is little research being done. Walsh said such a proclamation would help raise public awareness.

Treasurer’s Report

The Board approved authorizing County Treasurer Alynn Huffman to conduct a sale of tax liens without the need of requesting prior approval from the BOCC. Huffman said it concerned a specific property with a mine and asked that the BOCC approve making an assignment to a person or company interested in holding the tax lien certificate. She stated that in her opinion, the County would have no interest in this property.

Huffman also gave the Treasurer’s report for August. County taxes collected were 98.48 percent, down slightly from 99.00 percent a year ago. The grand total of the Treasurer’s Report was $13.3 million. Huffman said only 328 delinquent taxes remained outstanding, and this was the first year that state, personal, and mobile home taxes were all collected.

Housing Needs Assessment

The BOCC held a public hearing about the assessment of housing needs in Gilpin County. Tony Peterson, Community Development Director, presented results on the assessment. The County retained Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) to conduct the analysis; Peterson said that in 2010 Gilpin County accepted a $50,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the purpose of funding the assessment.

The main goals of the analysis included documenting the range of housing options available to Gilpin’s residents, comparing housing supply to demand, addressing affordability, and gauging interest in senior housing.

In a memo to the BOCC, Peterson advised that of the assessment’s findings, the most pertinent were the following:

Gilpin County housing market is limited by product type and price range. Housing in the county is over-represented by single family homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000, and such over-representation by mid-priced homes could result in housing barriers to lower income groups and less attraction to higher income groups.

Long-term housing affordability outlook is within an acceptable range. The supply deficits for income groups earning less than 80 percent of the area median income for Gilpin County are relatively low, Peterson said. This is important because a deficit correction addressing the lower income groups where the average household can afford to pay on average $675 per month (HUD) would likely require housing subsidies.

Thirty percent of future housing demand is projected to come from those 65 years and older. If the assumption is that the senior citizen population growth would fall disproportionately to the lower income groups, or less than 80 percent of the area median income, the County may see an increase in the percent of our population that earns less than 80 percent AMI. Currently, the demand level from this group is at 29 percent.

Patricia Eaton, 1280 Tolland Road, Rollinsville, asked the BOCC if such housing was currently being worked on. Watson responded that surveys of the County’s seniors showed that they are in favor of doing private rather than government housing. Fund raising is now being discussed, and Watson said she believed that housing would start in about two years.

Variance Request, 215 Weasel Way

The Board approved a request by Newell and Jane McNeil for a variance to extend their existing 8’x10’ deck, which would be 23 feet from the south property line, a seven-foot reduction. In a public hearing, Mr. McNeil stated the reason for the request was advancing age and health issues. He said he and his wife would benefit from an entrance and exit point where their property would have a gentler slope in case they have to resort to motorized personal transportation. The proposed deck would allow them access to the main level with six steps or a ramp as opposed to 15 steps from the garage.

County regulations require that the setback from the property line shall not be less than 30 feet. The subject site is a gradually sloping 1.5-acre parcel. The dwelling on site was constructed in 1984. The adjacent parcel is a vacant mining claim, Navajo.

Board of Adjustment staff sent out notices to adjoining property owners and published a notice in the Weekly Register-Call. One comment had been received by email from neighbor Phil Headrick, whose wife Jan appeared to speak in favor of the variance.

Boundary Line Adjustment

His Followers Limited LP sought a boundary line adjustment to move the property boundary between four mining claims to create four new, more equally configured parcels. The existing parcels and acreage are SBE 08-01, Lot 1, 30.596 acres; Hazeltine, 5.17 acres, Church Placer, 4.58 acres, and Howard Recompense, 1.34 acres. The proposed adjustment would create parcels as follows: Parcel 1, 9.09 acres; Parcel 2, 9.92 acres; Parcel 3, 9.58 acres; and Parcel 4, 9.42 acres. Ray Rears, County Planner, advised that staff reviewed the plat, which incorporated revisions requested by his office. Those revisions included right-of-way of existing roadways shown on the plat, easement to parcels as necessary, building envelopes and CDPHE protection for existing environmental protection improvements.

The property is not in a subdivision. It is in the Russell Gulch area, just below Church Placer. Rears advised the BOCC that no new parcels were being created; it was just that the boundaries would be moved.

The applicant was present, as well as a neighbor who was concerned with road access if the boundaries would be moved.

Chairman Schmalz noted that the applicant would make the property more buildable and more marketable. Commissioner McLain noted that she was uncomfortable with approving the boundary line change in light of the neighbor’s concerns.

Ray Rears, County Planner, requested that the BOCC approve the boundary line adjustment as Resolution BLA 13-01. The BOCC approved the Resolution 2-1, with McLain dissenting.

State Historical Fund Grant Contract

Ray Rears, as Historic Advisory Liaison, presented a grant contract between the State of Colorado and Gilpin County for the purpose of conducting a historic structure assessment of the Thorn Lake School in Rollinsville. The goal is to place the school house in the ideal location, setting and design, ensuring its significance and integrity is maintained. The period of the contract shall be from November 1, 2013 through November 1, 2015.

The total cost of the survey is $3,800, with $1,900 coming from the State Historic Fund grant and the remaining cost of $1,900 coming from County funds within the historic preservation account.

The BOCC approved the grant contract.

Ralston Creek Maintenance Request

Curt Logsdon, Public Works Director, presented a proposal by The Ralston Creek Lane Recreation Association, where it would pay for services provided by the Gilpin County Public Works Department to reshape 1.4 miles of existing Ralston Creek Lane north from Highway 46. The Association submitted a limited road maintenance agreement for consideration by the BOCC.

Logsdon said the County cannot use county funds to maintain or improve private property; typically, maintenance of private property is done by the property owners.

The request does not ask for county funds, but instead would pay for the services above the County’s costs at a slight profit. The Association would pay in advance $6,625 to cover County personnel and equipment and would deposit $7,558 to cover other materials required to complete the maintenance. Thus far, the Association has been doing maintenance itself.

Logsdon said this could be considered a test for Gilpin County to see how it works before a formal policy on this type of service is adopted. He asked whether the County should provide this type of service to residents to bring in additional revenue that could be used to benefit all residents and whether the line should be drawn on services requested of the County on private property.

Arguments in favor included the County being able to offer a service to residents that want specialized work done that is not usually offered by local businesses or contractors; all residents could benefit, as the revenue would be used for repair and maintenance of roads, improved access for emergency vehicles, and other needs.

Arguments against the proposal were that residents who are not happy with current maintenance could, as Logsdon said, “have a feeding frenzy on this.” He noted that Public Works is shorthanded and in need of additional equipment and staff to offer expected County services.

Watson asked whether the Association had talked with local businesses about doing the work and received the response that it had not. She said the County should not compete with local private businesses. Logsdon replied that it takes a specialized service to put down the needed mag chloride. He said the County just purchased the last available supply of mag chloride, but that was earmarked for other roads and unavailable for Ralston Creek.

The BOCC decided to table the matter until next year, because the County is unable to do the work at this time.

In later public comment, Milt Tedford said he hoped the BOCC would make a decision that day. “I started the process a year ago, realizing it wouldn’t come to fruition right away,” he explained.

Adjustment of Slash Site Dates

The BOCC and Logsdon discussed the possibility of adjusting the dates the County slash site is open. Currently it is open from May 1 to October 6. Logsdon said the average loads dumped drop off late in the season. Watson noted that the site is open in early spring, when there are often heavy snows and slash work is difficult; it is closed in late fall, when slash work is often still possible. She wanted the County to be more responsive to adjusting the times the site is open, based on weather conditions. Logsdon advised that the site is also needed for preparation of de-icing material for winter, and that he didn’t want slash being dumped where salt was being mixed for de-icing. Schmalz recommended that Logsdon come back to the BOCC with options and costs.

Public Works Fleet Supervisor Salary

Logsdon advised that there is a need for a new Fleet Services Supervisor. The first supervisor was hired in May 2011, and since then there have been three supervisors. Since the last one left, Public Works has been advertising for his replacement, but so far no qualified person has been found who is willing to work for the current salary. The position may require a four-year degree with eight years of experience in the field. Salary comparisons provided by Logsdon showed Gilpin’s median salary for this position is $57,700, with the U.S. national average as $73,792. Jefferson County’s average is $63,902.

Logsdon requested the BOCC approve a one-time exemption to increase the starting pay rate for fleet supervisor up to 30 percent into the range, to a maximum of $61,230. He said the position is important to fill as soon as possible, since winter is rapidly approaching. The increased hiring range would greatly increase the chances of filling the position with a qualified and highly experienced person. Logsdon advised that there will not be an impact to the County this year from a higher salary being paid, as there are additional funds from the absence of the fleet supervisor salary for most of this year; next year, the impact could be about $14,000, but the impact should be partially or fully offset by the efficiencies a qualified supervisor would bring.

The Fleet Services Division has about 100 vehicles, Logsdon said, and a highly qualified individual is needed, with knowledge of the trend in computer use. McLain suggested promoting from within, but Logsdon said the County is not offering mentoring and training to current employees; no current employee is qualified, he said. He planned to advertise nationwide for a new supervisor.

Schmalz responded that “the BOCC budget is flat. We don’t have an income excess. This would be an ongoing expense and would increase. Something would have to give elsewhere.”

Logsdon’s concern was that if a highly-qualified fleet supervisor who was able to help maintain the vehicles were not found, the vehicles would need to be taken to the city for repair, which would result in great expense. Since the last fleet supervisor left, he said they have spent $20,000 in repairs. He said a new supervisor would need to be partly a mechanic, as well as a manager. He added that costs of renting equipment would be extremely high.

The BOCC put off making a decision until an upcoming budget discussion is held.

Human Resources Director’s Report

Susie Allen, Human Resources Director, presented an amendment to the CCOERA 401(a) Participation Agreement. CCOERA is Colorado County Officials and Employees Retirement Association. Allen advised the BOCC that Gilpin County has excluded election judge pay when calculating CCOERA retirement contributions, since election judges are usually temporary and are paid a flat amount for their services. Temporary staff does not qualify for retirement benefits. Sometimes the County does use either full or part-time employees to serve as judges, but they do not get retirement benefits on the election judge pay.

She said CCOERA suggested that it would be best to amend the participation agreement to specifically identify election judge pay as excluded from retirement compensation.

BOCC approved the amendment.

Notice of Public Meetings

The BOCC will hold a public meeting Thursday September 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Gilpin County Community Center. A DOLA (Department of Local Affairs) impact hearing will be held, beginning at 1:00 on October 2 and continuing to October 3 in the Cripple Creek Courthouse.

School Resource Officer

The BOCC discussed the SRO issue. The BOCC had a work session with the Gilpin County Board of Education September 11 to discuss having a SRO at the school. In that session, the BOE had expressed that there needs to be a full-time officer on duty at the school and that it was willing to do whatever necessary to make that happen. The BOCC was open to discussing a combined effort in funding an officer. Schmalz stated the position would have to be defined and agreed on by all parties and an Intergovernmental Agreement created. The estimated salary for a full-time SRO was $73,602. The BOE was willing to pay about $35,000 of that.

Presently there is an officer at the school on overtime.

The BOCC agreed that other funding should be sought, such as Department of Justice grants, Policing Services, and DOLA Gaming Impact. Baker advised that the County Attorney would draft an agreement based on motions passed by the BOE and seek other funding, with the school to pay $35,000 and insurance and other benefits to come from the County.

Various Concerns

In additional public comment, Lori Doyle spoke with the BOCC about a complaint filed against her by a neighbor regarding her dog, which the neighbor claimed barked excessively. She said she had expenses of $50 for the ticket, $137 in court costs, and half a day’s lost wages. She said her dog does not bark excessively and that the neighbor had made threats against her.

Dana Jones, 32 Meadow Way Drive, also addressed the BOCC about noise issues, including dogs, car motors, and guns. She said noise was “a big issue in her neighborhood” and asked if there was an ordinance regarding noise. She questioned whether the BOCC could give direction to the Sheriff’s Office, and Schmalz responded that because the Sheriff is elected, he may run his department as he wishes, and the BOCC has very little input.

Logsdon gave an update on road repairs. He said repairs would be made at night on Gap Road, Mountain Base Road, and Highway 46 due to traffic volume during the day. He said about 1,400 cars travel Gap Road each day, with about 2,000 using Mountain Base Road. These have not had mag chloride applied yet because of flooding. Logsdon said since the rain started, he has received only seven complaints.

A letter was shared from Congressmen Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter to Governor John Hickenlooper requesting that he seek a Major Disaster Declaration for Gilpin, Jefferson, and Broomfield Counties to assist them in recovery efforts after the flood.

Next Meeting

The next meeting of the BOCC will be October 8 at 9:00 a.m. in the Gilpin County Courthouse, 203 Eureka Street, Central City.

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