By Staci McBrayer
The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners met on Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 at the Gilpin County Courthouse. Commissioner Buddy Schmalz, Commissioner Connie McLain, and Commissioner Gail Watson were in attendance along with County Manager Roger Baker and County Attorney Jim Petrock.
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Proclamation
Commissioners proclaimed November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. County Resident Jean Walsh, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer, requested the proclamation for the second year in a row.
Walsh spoke briefly about the Purple Light event on October 26th on the West Steps of the State Capitol Building at 5:00 p.m. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network will host the event that will celebrate survivors and honor those lost to the disease. Purple glow sticks will illuminate the steps of the capital as loved ones read the names of those lost.
United Power Tax Abatement
Commissioners approved a tax abatement in the amount of $16,106 for United Power. The State assesses the value of all public utilities and rail transportation companies doing business in Colorado. The company values are then apportioned to the local counties for collection. United Power determined that it had made an error in filing for the 2013 tax year as it wrongly reported the State assessed value on the company’s facilities located in the Lincoln Hills Subdivision.
United Power originally reported a State assessed value of $2,479,300 and the corrected assessed value of $2,150,100. The original tax was $121,322 and the corrected amount $105,216.
In August, State Assessed Manager Curt Settle notified the Gilpin Assessor’s Office that United Power was seeking the abatement with interest. State law, however, states that no interest is to be added to the refund. Commissioners did not approve any interest on the abatement.
Chief Deputy Treasurer Mary Lorenz presented the Commissioners with both the September Treasurer’s Report and the third quarter Public Trustee report for Treasurer Alynn Huffman.
The September Treasurer’s Report showed a slight decrease in taxes collected (98.22%) as compared to the same time last year (99.10%.) Lorenz noted that several large casinos are paying their taxes on monthly payment plans, which has reduced the percentage of taxes collected.
Lorenz also noted an unusually high number of properties going to sale in the 2013 Delinquent Tax Lien Sale. 312 properties are on the County’s delinquent tax lien sale list, and a large portion of the properties owned by one owner, Quartz Hill Mining, LLC. The tax lien sale will occur on Wednesday, November 19th.
The Public Trustees Report showed that foreclosures continue to decline in the County. Sixteen foreclosures have been opened for 2014. Eleven are still active, five have been either cured or withdrawn by the owner, and one has been lost to the owner by sale. 2013 saw twenty-nine foreclosures, 2012 fifty-six, and 2011 eighty-six.
Veteran’s Services Report
Todd Kumro, Veteran’s Services Officer, gave his annual report to the Commissioners. Kumro shared with the Board the 2013 Geographic Distribution of VA Expenditures. The report shows that Gilpin County has 414 veterans with a total VA benefit expenditure of $2,373,000. This compares with 847 veterans in Clear Creek County with a total benefit expenditure of $2,440,000. Kumro cites that helping veterans get the maximum amount of benefits due to them is why Gilpin has half the veterans, but almost the same amount of benefit.
Kumro spoke to the improvements in the VA system as a result of the recent VA scandal. “With the huge scandal that happened within the VA system, things are radically changing for the better.” He noted that the VA is starting to offer outpatient and private facility options. Kumro said that a big part of his job is to help veterans understand their options and to help them stick out a sometimes arduous process. “My job description is to help people push past the frustration,” Kumro said.
Kumro also noted that the local VFW and American Legion are continuing to raise money for the remodeling of the Veteran’s Memorial located at the Community Center (though the memorial is not a County Project.) Funds are being raised through the sale of the bricks engraved with veteran’s names with the suggested donation of $100 per brick.
Requests to Fill Positions
Undersheriff Jon Bayne and Captain Tonya Kapke requested and received approval to fill two positions within the Sheriff’s Office. The first was a Victim Advocate position vacated earlier this month. The full-time, grant funded position has a starting salary of $38,300. Kapke said that her office has a potential employee in mind from their eligibility list that could facilitate getting the position filled quickly.
The second position is for a Detentions Deputy position that will be vacated in November by an employee leaving to fill a position in the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The starting salary for this full-time position is $52,200 and the money is already allocated in the County’s budget.
Rural Economic Development Initiative
County Manager Roger Baker discussed with the Board the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI.) REDI helps eligible small, rural communities develop diversity within the local economy where a single employer or industry exists. Grants are available through REDI to implement projects to create jobs, drive capital investments, and increase wages in order to grow a more diverse local economy. A meeting is planned at the Central City Hall on Friday, October 24th at 9:30 to learn more about the REDI grant process.
County Attorney’s Report
County Attorney Jim Petrock advised Commissioners that the County has filed its last brief in the State Treasurer litigation. The County, along with the City of Black Hawk, have filed suit against the State Treasurer, Cripple Creek, Teller County, and Central City challenging the formula used for allocating the disbursement of limited gaming funds.
Petrock said the brief was in response to Cripple Creek’s brief. Petrock said he does not expect a decision for at least a month or more as to whether the case will proceed.
Notice of Public Meetings
–Coffee with Commissioners, Thursday, October 23rd, 6:30 p.m. Community Center
–Rural Economic Development Initiative, Friday, October 24th, 9:30 a.m. Central City Hall
Senior Living Work Session
Commissioners held a work session with Sharon Perea of the community group Senior Living, and Community Development Director Tony Petersen regarding senior housing. Both McLain and Watson are actively involved with Perea and the Senior Living group.
The County currently has two potential paths to bring senior housing to the area. The first is a 150-unit retirement development being proposed by a private developer. The second is a grass roots effort headed by Perea to bring a smaller, more comprehensive care facility to the county that would address more of the different levels of care seniors will require.
Perea, however, addressed her concern that her organization did not want to continue to evolve into a non-profit that begins to seek funding without the County’s support or in competition with the private developer. Watson said it was obvious to her that one of the two options needed to be pursued, but not both.
Petersen said that this point, he is going to suggest that the developer withdraw his application citing that the planning commission is not on board with the plans. “We (the Commissioners) are not onboard,” Watson said. “What we are in favor of is affordable senior living, and what this seems to be is a retirement community.”
Work session participants discussed looking at the facility being planned in Washington County. Petersen advised that he would contact Washington County and find out how that County is pursuing building and funding their facility.
Sheriff’s Office Joint Dispatch Work Session
Commissioners met with Sheriff Bruce Hartman, Undersheriff Jon Bayne, and Dispatch Supervisor Sergeant Steven Watson to discuss the variables involved with potentially merging dispatch services with Clear Creek County. The possibility of merging the two communication centers is being considered as a measure to save both Counties money. However, more research and discussion is needed to flesh out the realities of combining the two.
Gilpin’s communication center currently dispatches for Central City, the Gilpin Ambulance Authority, and the Timberline Fire Protection District in addition to the Sheriff’s Office. The ramifications for merging would have to address the impact of cost for the other agencies under Gilpin’s umbrella, centralized location possibilities, governance, upfront costs, infrastructure, and staffing. Continued discussions with the other agencies involved are needed to determine if a formal process will be set up to pursue the merge.
The next scheduled meeting for the Commissioners is on November 4th, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. on the 2nd floor of the Gilpin County Courthouse, 203 Eureka Street, Central City, Colorado.