Gilpin County proposes raising taxes at November election

State and Gilpin requires wearing of masks indoors, but not outdoors

By Randy Beaudette

Board-chair Gail Watson called to order, the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Special online meeting on July 21, 2020 promptly at 9:00 am. Joining her were Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart to discuss items such as a FEMA Public Assistance announcement, clarification of the stage two fire ban, and a discussion that explores the possibilities of a County tax increase on the November ballot.

Also present online were County Attorney Brad Benning, County Manager Abel Montoya, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members of the Senior Leadership Team.

Commissioner Isenhart requested a moment of silence dedicated to Georgia Congressman and long-time civil rights advocate John Lewis.

FEMA Public Assistance Award for COVID-19

Gilpin County Emergency Manager Nathan Whittington announced that Gilpin County has been selected by the State to be eligible for the FEMA Public Assistance award funds. A process that takes a considerable amount of time and effort, Gilpin Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been involved in this project for the past few months through an extensive certification and training processes. Because Gilpin is one of the most economically affected counties in the nation due to the gaming loss, the EOC used this as leverage to convince FEMA that Public Assistance is warranted. Once the project is completed and sent off to FEMA, Gilpin County has the possibility to be awarded up to $1.4 million dollars for COVID related expenses. These expenses range from remodeling buildings that will allow more social distancing to equipment that scans incoming inmates for contraband items to eliminate or reduce personal pat downs to hands free time recording devices. The State recognizes the financial challenges that Gilpin County has been facing due to the effect of COVID-19. Gilpin County Sheriff’s office and EOC will continue to pursue these much-needed Public Assistance funds from FEMA.

Gilpin County Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht provided an update stating that Gilpin County has 13 positive cases, though none have been identified at the local testing site. Ms. Albrecht explained the differences between the County Mask order and the State mask order. The State is not requiring folks to wear masks outdoors other than waiting for public transportation although it is highly recommended. Exemptions are a little more specific such as children 10 and under, interfacing with a hearing-impaired person, exercising alone, and for identification purposes.

Adopting State Mask Order

Gilpin County Board of Health approved to rescind PHO# 20-10 Mandatory Mask order and adopt the State’s Mask Order.

New Tolland Trail system IGA

County Attorney Benning presented an IGA with Boulder County for Enforcement of Rules and Regulations on newly planned Toll Trail. Boulder approached the County Attorneys office expressing their desire to develop the Toll properties into a recreation area. Because the property borders Boulder and Gilpin Counties, an IGA will be required to allow Boulder County to build and maintain the trail system along with enforcing compliance to the parks rules and regulations. Gilpin County BOCC approved the IGA unanimously.

Transfer of Development Rights (SBE# 19-02P) debate

  Community Development Director Stephan Strohminger presented a Senate Bill Exemptions (SBE 19-02) Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) on behalf of Florian Freymuth for properties located near the Corona Heights Subdivision. The applicant owns a ten-acre partial on North County Road in which the  applicant is requesting a to transfer the TDR from a partial along Hwy 72 3/4 acre in size, which he also owns to the ten-acre partial on North County Road. Resident Ryan Roberts commented on the SBE during the comment period but was placed here for clarification. The SBE was not a public hearing that allowed such comments. Mr. Roberts commented, “It seems like an ill-conceived concept by trading small lots for big lots. Currently it is undetermined if the proposed lot that will be traded lot on Hwy 72 is actually a buildable lot so the County may be trading a non-buildable lot for a buildable lot. A ¾ partial is pretty small and will be affordable in the $30,000 to $35,000 price range something that an average blue-collar worker can afford trading it for $150,000 partial that will be out of reach for most of our residents. Buildability issue aside the future of the non-buildable lot has not been addressed. It is no longer buildable so why are the Freymuths paying taxes on it or are they planning a Boundary Line Elimination (BLE) with surrounding lots, which will make their lots more valuable. This seems like an attempt of out of county developers to start chopping up Gilpin County lots. The Freymuths own several lots in Gilpin County one of which is the 10-acre lot on North County Road. They also own larger lots on Hwy 72. When does the County draw the line about trading small lots and chopping up the bigger lots? This move seems to go against the County’s Master Plan. Having smaller tighter PUD is what the County seems to be moving towards verses having these large spread out lots. A vote against SBE # 19-02 is appropriate, a vote for this will open the door for out of county developers to come in and continue to chop the County’s larger partials.”

After a long informative discussion, The Gilpin County Commissioners approved SBE# 19-02P unanimously, but agreeing to place a moratorium on future TDR’s at the next Commissioner’s meeting on July 28, 2020 to allow for clarification on the subject and possibility enacting some additional restrictions on the allowance of development right transfers.

Stage 2 Fire Ban Clarification (Resolution 20-11)

Gilpin County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong presented language changes and clarification to the requirements set forth in the Stage 2 Fire document. The document explains that there will be “Stage 1 Fire Restrictions” and a “Stage 2 Fire Ban.” Exemptions will include liquid or gas fueled appliances such as gas fueled fire pits, gas camp stoves, and Tiki torches, but persons operating such devices must take adequate measures that will prevent uncontrolled fires such as keeping nearby; a fire extinguishers, containers of adequate water or soil nearby, and an approved shovel (One that is a round point at least 36 inches long). Gilpin County Commissioners approved to rescind Resolution 20-10 (Previous Stage 2 Fire Ban) and enact Resolution 20-11.

Raising Taxes Discussion

Gilpin County Manager Montoya and Gilpin County Attorney Benning led a discussion of potential items on the November Ballot pertaining to revenue enhancement. Because of COVID-19, Gilpin County has been faced with a substantial financial crisis that has resulted in severe cuts in County personnel and services. A revenue stabilization component, i.e. more taxes, needs to be addressed as a possible solution to the County’s shortfalls. Currently there are two major sources of revenue to the county – one being the gaming tax, with the other being property taxes. The County has not instituted a sales tax. These funds have proven insufficient to provide stability in revenues to the County Tabor Taxpayer Bill of Rights and the Gallagher amendment adopted in 1982 by the State of Colorado have severely limited property tax revenue. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (abbreviated TABOR) is a concept advocated by conservative and free market libertarian groups, primarily in Colorado as a way of limiting the growth of government. It is not a charter right, but a provision requiring that increases in overall tax revenue be tied to inflation and population increases unless larger increases are approved by the voters. Proposals to stabilize Gilpin County’s revenues include:

–A 4.5 mil levy or .025% increase to generate up to 2 million dollars to the Community Center.

–A 4.5 mill levy or .025% increase to generate up to 2 million dollars to the Sheriff’s Department.

–A 3% sales tax.

Currently the Gilpin County property tax rate is 9.046 mills or 7.15% of the assessed value of property. This is what goes to the County and does not reflect the additional taxes that go to the two school districts, Timberline Fire District, or the Library District.

To understand what that means to taxpayers is this – on an average home valued at $337,400 @ (7.15%)  .0715 = $24,124 assessed value @ 9.046/1000 = $218 per year in County taxes.

If the proposed increases are voted in, the property taxes paid to Gilpin County will nearly double to fully fund the Community Center and Sheriff’s department.

If tax increases are not voted in, the County will have to reduce expenses. (Editor)

Residents are encouraged to contact any of the Commissioners or the County Manager to voice your opinions or ideas.

District #1 – Commissioner Ron Engels

District #2 – Commissioner Linda Isenhart

District #3 – Commissioner Gail Watson, Chair

County ManagerAbel Montoya


2020 PILT Report

County Treasurer Mary Lorenz announced that the 2020 PILT money has been added to the County coffers and will be distributed between the two school districts and Road and Bridge. The amount of funds was unknown to the press, but it was expressed that the amount received was lower than last year.

Sheriff’s Office Detentions

With the opening of the casinos, bookings to the Gray Bar Hotel have increased. There were five bookings in April, 25 guests in June, and 25 guests so far enjoying our County hospitality in July.

Library Trustee Sweet

Dorothy Sweet was unanimously appointed to the Library Board of Trustees.

Mines added to National Historic Places

The Gilpin County Commissioners approved the Frontenac and Aduddell Mine Complex Nomination to National Register of Historic Places as presented by Gilpin Historic Preservation Advisory Commission Secretary Tami Archer.

Meeting Minutes

Gilpin Board of County Commissioners approved the Meeting Minutes, from the July 14, 2020 regular meeting with some corrections.

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