Commissioners review financial audit and updates to the County long-term plan
By Randy Beaudette
Gilpin Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) November 3, 2020 regular online meeting featured topics such as the Community Center re-opening plan, a Comprehensive Land Use Plan zoning regulation update, and a brief 2019 audit review.
Board-Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting at 9:00 am along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart. Joining online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members from the Senior Leadership Team (SLT).
COVID 19 Update
Gilpin County Emergency Manager Nathan Whittington was filling in for Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht, and informed the online audience that there are 33 positive cases in the county, eight being confirmed in the last two weeks, and the positivity rate from October 19 thru November 1st is hovering around 4.98 %. Ten residents were tested on November 2nd with 37 folks to be tested on November 3rd.
Gilpin Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is currently working on the mass vaccination plan with nearby agencies which is being developed using the mass testing as a model.
Red Cross is no longer providing fire evacuation and housing operations in Gilpin County, with evacuees either returned home or have made arrangements for longer term housing.
Evacuated animals at the barn have been narrowed down to just 131 chickens with all the other critters being released back to their owners.
Financial Statements Audit Review
Gilpin County Financial Director Clorinda Smith along with Jim Hinkle from Hinkle & Company presented the 2019 audit report. The audit is a requirement of the Colorado Revised Statutes that reviews financial statements and accounting transactions of governmental agencies. The process focuses on control features that will indicate any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies within those control features. Material weakness is a significant deficiency that could result in a material mis-statement in the financials. A significant deficiency is a designed flaw either in the internal control structure that would allow intentional or un-intentional errors to go undetected. The report for Gilpin County stated the audit did not find or report any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in their audit.
At the close of 2019, Gilpin County’s assets of $49,635,793 exceeded its liabilities of $3,306,776, and the deferred inflow of resources, $3,984,161 by $42,344,853. Of this amount, $25,257,488 is invested in capital assets and $3,215,849 is restricted at the end of 2019. The remaining $13,871,516 may be used to meet ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.
The County governmental funds reported a total ending fund balance $17,693,533 and increase of $870,689 (+5.2 %) in comparison with 2018. Of this amount $12,022,697 is unassigned.
To see the full report visit www.co.gilpin.co.us and select “Finance & Budget.”
Public Trustee 3rd Quarter Report
Gilpin County Treasurer Mary Lorenz shared the third quarter Public Trustee Report ending on September 30, 2020. Ms. Lorenz stated that the County is only at two foreclosures so far this year, but that can change at the first of the year. The Public Trustee bank balance on June 30 was $3,420. Adding $4,325 income and subtracting $3,705 in total disbursements leaves a current balance of $4,040.
Community Center Reopening Plan
Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya and Business Analyst Gabrielle Chisholm presented the third iteration of the Community Center Campus Reopening Plan. Essential services are to be first on the list to be brought up to operating status with staff hiring being soon thereafter. The Center is projected to open up around the end of January 2021 with an abbreviated schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 am to 7 pm, with afterschool activities available from 4 pm to 6 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Center would be closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Later on, Saturdays will be added from 9 am to 6 pm.
Ms. Chisholm continued by highlighting the revenues and expenditures. Revenues sourced from the upcoming mil levy increase, the Greater Outdoors Colorado grant, and the Coronavirus Relief fund will equate to an approximate $53,000 annual underspending during the slow reopening process. With that slight fund surplus, there may be an opportunity to hire additional staff or perform some much-needed repairs to the Community Center complex.
Community Center Job Descriptions
Gilpin County People, Culture, and Finance Director Lori Schrayer along with Business Analyst Gabrielle Chisholm presented for review, a partial list of Community Center job descriptions. From the Parks and Recreation Director to the Groundskeeper all the former descriptions have been amended to reflect a more efficient Community Center operation. After a lengthy discussion, the BoCC decided further discussion on this issue belonged in executive session.
Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Regulations Update
Comprehensive Plan Update
Gilpin County Senior Planner Stephen Strohminger presented the latest update of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Comprehensive Planning is a process that determines the County’s goals and aspirations in terms of community development. Highlights of this update included a summary of existing conditions of land use in the County.
The Comprehensive plan is centered around higher population density outside of our three major towns. These smaller communities are referred to as villages or nodes which are proposed to be located along the Highway 119 corridor. Proposed site of these villages are: Rollinsville, the area around Roy’s Last Shot, Mid-County, the Justice Center/ Community Center, and south in the area around the Black Hawk sanitation complex. These villages incorporate high density housing, businesses and shops, and open space recreation areas.
Here’s a review of the ongoing evolution of the Comprehensive Plan.
Existing County Population
Population growth has been fairly modest the past ten years with a projection of only 100 residents to be added over the next thirty years. According the demographer’s report Gilpin County has an older population which makes Gilpin County unique to other counties in the region. According to Mr. Strohminger, the majority of the new building permits are for retirement homes indicating that the influx of retired residents has not and will not slow down. Land under County jurisdiction is about 68 square miles out of the 150 square miles in that is considered Gilpin County. The remaining land is under federal or state jurisdiction. Residential land use under County control equates to about half of that 68 square miles.
Existing County Roads
Many residents rely on County or Forrest Service roads for travel and as we all know some of the roads are rated fair to poor conditions due to the lack of maintenance or weather-related elements that these roads are subjected to thus making emergency travel more of a challenge.
Existing County Economy
The Gaming industry provides significant source of if income with employment and tax revenue but does not stimulate growth in economic diversification. The only current exceptions being the Gregory Street and the Lake Gulch/ Whiskey Resort projects.
Existing County Taxation
Gaming taxes provide the largest source of tax revenue to the County followed by property taxes.
County Potential for Growth
Improvement for Broadband internet services tops the list for potential for growth followed by recreation and historical tourism The County has participated in numerous broadband studies over the years and that a county wide system would be too cost prohibitive with the current technology. The Starlink system may soon be available which would be available countywide internet no matter the location. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation being constructed by Space X providing satellite internet access. The constellation will consist of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), working in combination with ground transceivers.
County Commissioners and residents all have to be fully involved in order to achieve sound decisions by which the County may adjust zoning requirements to meet the usefulness and sustainability standards of a sound Comprehensive plan that will shape the future of Gilpin County. The Comprehensive Plan satisfies the need for a roadmap that includes protective measures for all levels of growth while protecting the values of the community. Goals of the plan include economic diversification, environmental awareness, maintaining a sustainable use of resources and infrastructure, and managing growth to protect community values. Whether development takes place in five or twenty years or never, a strategic plan has been implemented that is environmentally and economically sustainable. With a Comprehensive Plan or without, intelligent growth ultimately resides on the decisions of the community and business leaders along with the residents of the County
Planning and Zoning Update
Mr. Strohminger’s update included proposed zoning changes that will make growth more organic, safer, and more sustainable than the current regulation. A visit to www.co.gilpin.co.us “Comprehensive Plan” site reveals some very extensive zoning changes up for proposal under the “Zoning Ordinance Draft Amendments” (Dated October 2020) heading. Most of the changes moved or renumbered various ordinances, whereas other changes incorporate major regulation changes such as Short-Term Rentals, Subdivision Exemptions, and a Transfer of Development Rights. Other proposed changes include landscape, parking, and drainage standards in the various zoning districts under various circumstances.
Residents are encouraged to provide input whenever possible to the development of this Comprehensive Plan and monitor the results. Comments in support or opposition to what future growth should look like are always welcome. Visit www.co.gilpin.co.us and select “Comprehensive Plan.”
County Attorney Brad Benning announced that the Colorado opioid litigation remains ongoing against several opioid manufactures. Settlement structure indicates that Gilpin County is located within the region along with Clear Creek, Summit, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties. Before Gilpin can legally enter into the settlement distribution region, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) needs to be initiated and ratified by all the counties involved. Gilpin is in line to obtain around $8,000 dedicated to opioid treatment and mitigation.
Snow Plowing Covered
County Manager Abel Montoya and Public Works Deputy Director Dave Rich announced that County Road snow removal will look the same as in years past. A new policy has been drafted that will provide adequate coverage throughout the County in light of the recent staff reductions. There are a sufficient number of plow trucks and drivers available to provide snow removal and modified plan will also incorporate backup equipment and operators. Only day shift plowing will be implemented which can start as early as 4:00 am to accommodate the school bus routes. The routes will be smaller, but operators will be able to handle all levels of service.
Gilpin County BoCC approved the meeting minutes from the October 20 and 21, 2020 meeting with no corrections or amendments.
Gilpin County Commissioners moved to adjourn into Executive Session to receive legal advice from the County Attorney per C.R.S 24-6-402-(4)(b).
To stay informed in these dynamic times we are currently experiencing, visit www.co.gilpin.co.us for up to date information.