Special meeting dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak repercussions
By Randy Beaudette
In a special online meeting of the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) on Thursday March 19, 2020, topics revolved around the COVID-19 outbreak and a discussion of recovery planning.
Madam Chair Gail Watson along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart called the meeting to order at 9:00 am that also included online; County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Sheriff Kevin Armstrong, and Finance Director Clorinda Smith.
Discussion of Revenue Projections
Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya and Finance Director Clorinda Smith led a conversation about possible revenue projections for Gilpin County. With the closing of the casinos, the County’s main revenue stream has been temporarily severed in which the Commissioners requested what the numbers might look like under different scenarios.
There might be a somewhat significant drop in 2020 gaming revenues. Last year in 2019 Gilpin County received a total of $11.3 million dollars from the gaming industry. The scenarios also a includes a possible slight drop in property tax collections due to the economic strain where residents may be unable to pay their mortgages, have their mortgage payments deferred, or have difficulty keeping up with tax payments. The models also include a loss of interest on interest-bearing accounts, and a drop in license and permit fees collections. To offset these reductions Mr. Montoya suggested policy changes for Gilpin County employees that did not include any immediate staff reductions or lay-offs, a reduction in capital expenditures, and they also include a reduction or elimination of their business cases. Total expenditures for 2020 will appear to be down under these different scenarios. Gilpin County is a little better off than most counties of Colorado due to the reserves that the County has accumulated over the years. Mr. Montoya stated that the County does have money to draw on from the TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) Reserves, the Open Space Historic Fund, and others. These funds may be reallocated to the operational fund to ease the burden on the County. It is unclear this early in this pandemic as to which State or Federal funds are available for relief, but those are possibilities as well. Because public reaction can be difficult to predict and the length of the shutdown is uncertain, these revenue projections have a chance to swing towards the better and less impactful scenario, but it is better to be prepared than to be surprised.
Hiring and Large Item Moratorium
Commissioner Ron Engels made a motion to direct staff to enact an immediate moratorium on any new hires with the possibility of appealing that on a case by case basis to the BoCC, and put a moratorium on spending any of the large ticket replacement items. Exception to this are the cases where the County already has a commitment or in those cases that will be time sensitive and will be more expensive in the future. The motion was approved unanimously by the Gilpin County Commissioners.
Bi-weekly Special Meetings
Due to the Emergency Declaration for the COVID-19 outbreak, the board agreed to hold special meetings every Tuesday and Thursday to address additional issues that may arise.
Letter to Small Businesses
The Gilpin County Commissioners agreed to draft a letter to the small businesses of Gilpin County sharing Small Business Administration information for loans and programs that are designed to assist small businesses during these unstable times. County Manager Abel Montoya added that the letter should also convey the financial hardships experienced by the County and how important that gaming is to County revenues. Also include the actions that were passed by the Federal Government to ease the hardships associated with a National Emergency Declaration.
For more information visit http://gilpincounty.org.