Prioritizing Gaming Impact Grant applications

Gilpin County to take ownership of Belvidere Theatre by end of May

by Heather Worrell

The Gilpin County Commissioner’s meeting was called to order at 9 am on May 19, 2015 at the Old Courthouse in Central City. All Commissioners were present.

Clerk & Recorder’s Report

Clerk & Recorder Colleen Stewart presented her monthly report indicating that they are up from last year and all is well in her department. Stewart informed the public that there’s an interesting exhibit about the license plates opening up at the Gilpin History Museum this Saturday.

Gilpin County Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Alynn Huffman presented her monthly report and updated the County on the acquisition of the Belvidere Theatre property. The right to cure past-due taxes ends at the end of the month and if past-due taxes (roughly $180K) are not paid, then an ownership deed will be issued to the County for that property.

Planning Commission

The County Commissioners approved the Planning Commission’s May 12th revision to their by-laws. County Planner Ray Rears noted the biggest change is to lower the quorum from five to four voting members. This change was requested since there are vacancies on the board and the existing group needed to lower the quorum in order to complete any business.

Sheriff’s Office Personnel Changes

Next the Gilpin County Sherriff’s office came to speak about personnel items with some recent changes in their department. Sheriff Bruce Hartman, Undersheriff Jon Bayne, Captain Tom Ihme, Captain Tania Kapke attended along with Human Services Director Susie Allen. The group came forward with a request to fill a few positions, including a Patrol Sergeant and two Detention Deputies as two individuals are retiring and another is being promoted. The Commissioners approved their request. The Sheriff’s Department also requested the option to increase the salary of the current Sergeant so that it would better align with the salary the newly appointed sergeant will receive. With these changes Sherriff Hartman said, “There’s going to be a bottom line savings to the County. We wanted to address the fact that a brand new person would make more than a current sergeant with tenure. We are offering our best solution.” The Commissioners approved their request to increase the salary of the current sergeant under the circumstances, but they were all clear to say that they have received requests from many departments to increase salaries and they are simply not in the financial position to do that in most cases. Instead, each request must be looked at and considered “in a surgical matter” according to Watson and a “case-by-case basis” per Commissioner Buddy Schmalz.

Employee Life Insurance

Allen brought forward a requested change for Employee Basic Life Insurance Coverage for new employees. Currently full-time employees receive $100,000 of basic life insurance and an additional $100,000 accidental death and dismemberment insurance free-of-charge to the employees. The changes will reduce coverage for life and AD&D to $50,000 for new employees only. This change is thought to save the county money over time and new employees will have the option to purchase additional coverage at their own cost for a reduced rate. The Board approved the proposal. Following this approval were two public hearings for variance requests.

Board of Adjustment Public Hearings

The first variance request was BOA #15-01, Constance Joyce La Lena, 85 Venus Road. LaLena hopes to add a garage in alignment with her current driveway and parking area and requests a variance that would allow her to build 11 feet from the property line. LaLena explained that her property provides little alternative options for the garage without significant changes in the appearance. She wrote in her request “A survey revealed that in order to meet the 30’ setback requirement using the existing driveway path I would have to gouge into a hillside below the cabin, build a retaining wall, cut down 13 beautiful mature lodge pole pines…the steepness of the existing driveway would require additional tree-cutting, grading and retaining opposite the garage in order to gain ingress and egress by a vehicle in a safe manner.” Staff made no recommendations. LaLena’s neighbors Joseph Self and Richard Conklin wrote a letter that they have absolutely no objection to the variance request. No public comments were made at the hearing and the Board approved the request.

Next public hearing was for variance request for BOA #15-02, Bonny Nash Waynick, 282 Glen Mawr Drive. Nash has requested a variance in order to build a 16×17’ addition to her house within 25’ of the property line. The addition would add another bathroom, expand her existing bedroom and encapsulate the mechanical room to prevent future freezing issues. County Planner Ray Rears reviewed the site and made no recommendations. There was no public comment. The County has received four letters from surrounding property owners that all voice support in favor of Nash’s request. The variance passed unanimously by the Commissioners.

Gaming Impact Grants

The Commissioners had the arduous task to prioritize Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Gaming Impact Grant applications. A total of eight applications have been submitted and requirements set forth by DOLA, and the Commissioners are required to number the grant applications in order of priority. There was much discussion about this as the priorities set forth on the application have historically not seemed to made much difference on what DOLA decides to fund. The Board took a strategic stance to help get applications approved, but struggled with this process since they believe all the requests are important for the benefit of county residents. Each Commissioner has a different specific strategy that includes consideration  of alternate funding or what is quantifiable on paper to help them prioritize. County Manager Roger Baker compiled individual results and the Commissioners determined any ties. The prioritization was determined as follows: (1) Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office – Detentions (2) Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office – Dispatch (3) Eagles Nest Early Learning Center (4) Gilpin Victim Services (5) Gilpin Connect (6) 1st Judicial District (7) Gilpin Ambulance Authority and (8) Jefferson Center for Mental Health. Minor changes were made on the applications to increase solidarity and fluidity of requests. Commissioners noted several concerns about this process and hope to have a conversation with DOLA in the future to help improve processes. Gilpin County casinos fund 92% of the $5 million dollars set aside for Gaming Impact grants each year. Schmalz commented on the prioritization process, “People must understand that there are a lot of factors at play here. It’s based on what is quantifiable, and part of the criteria is to consider strategic funding.”

County Manager’s Report

County Manager Baker has just received additional information that there has been an increase in resident gaming employees from 61% to 66%, with 2,588 current total resident employees. Based on the new numbers from the Department of Gaming, it looks like the County should receive an additional $350,000 in funding next year.

Other Business

County Attorney Brad Brenning had no report to share. The Commissioners compiled their upcoming engagements and moved on to complete other business. Minutes from the May 5th meeting were approved. The meeting went into recess for at 11:15 am to have an executive session in order to discuss possible litigation. They returned form executive session at 12:40 pm and adjourned the meeting.

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