Recognizing Commissioner Watson’s service to the County
By Randy Beaudette
Gilpin Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held their final regular meeting of 2020 on December 17th. Highlights included topics such as a celebration of Commissioner Gail Watson’s service, the C-PACE program for commercial buildings in the County, and 2021 budget year certification of levies and revenue.
Board-Chair Gail Watson opened up the meeting promptly at 9:00 am along with Commissioners Ron Engels and Linda Isenhart. Also joining online were County Manager Abel Montoya, County Attorney Brad Benning, Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate, and members from the Senior Leadership Team.
Commissioner Isenhart led the celebration for Madam-Chair Watson who will be stepping down from her position in January due to term limits. Ms. Watson’s accomplishments include spearheading the initiative to provide transportation for residents in need by starting the Gilpin Connect program, the ongoing initiative to establish a public shooting range in Gilpin County, the purchase and renovation of the Public Health/ Human Services building, and leading the charge with a local citizen group to oppose the Denver Metroplex aviation traffic plan which is currently in litigation. Other contributions include the redesign of the Gilpin County logo, as well as sponsoring initiatives for many historical preservation projects. Several people spoke on the online platform thanking Gail for her services and recollecting some serious as well as some humorous stories about Commissioner Watson. We all wish Gail best of luck in future endeavors, and thank you for serving our Community with such dedication.
Gilpin County Public Health Coordinator Bonnie Albrecht reported that four more positive COVID cases were tested on December 15 which brings the total to 109 positive cases and one death since March 2020.
Emergency Operations Manager Nathan Whittington shared that the Emergency Operations Center is performing ongoing preparations for the distribution of the COVID vaccine to residents of the County.
Central City Community Development Director Ray Rears, along with Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) Director Tracy Phillips, introduced the C-PACE initiative which is a program that will help finance improvements to existing commercial buildings along with energy efficiency and sustainability in new construction. State Legislation passed in 2015, created the New Energy Improvement District which is recognized statewide. Individual counties need to voluntarily opt into the C-PACE program in order to receive any benefits. This legislation allowed the State of Colorado and Colorado Energy Office to develop the privately funded C-PACE program. Energy improvement loans taken through C-PACE are “Assessed” loans meaning that payments are made through the assessed taxes from the county rather than individual payments to the program. If an owner sells a building, the new owner is responsible for the assessed taxes plus the repayments back to C-PACE. As an incentive for a county to opt in, C-PACE will reimburse 1% of the project cost back to the county for administrative costs. According to Mr. Phillips, there are 36 counties in Colorado that have opted in. C-PACE has financed 82 projects across Colorado with a total value of around $95 million dollars. In order for Gilpin County to opt in, a resolution agreement must be approved by the County Commissioners. The C-PACE Program Resolution will most likely show up on one of the January 2021 agendas for approval.
Gross Reservoir Expansion Letter
Gilpin County Commissioners approved a letter in opposition to the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project (Project). According to the letter, “Impacts to Gilpin County and other eastern slope communities have not been adequately considered or addressed. The Board respectfully request that Boulder County Board of County Commissioners and Denver Water not proceed with the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project as currently proposed until Gilpin County, Denver Water and the above jurisdictions meet to discuss and address the concerns and serious impacts from the Project.” The letter also addresses Environmental Impacts, Wildlife Impacts, Sustainability and Conservation, and Traffic Impacts to Gilpin County. The Opposition Letter was sent December 17th and is expected to be answered soon thereafter.
County Owned Properties For Sale – Make an Offer!
Gilpin County Assessor Anne Schafer revisited the issue of dispositioning County owned properties. When property taxes are not paid on real estate, the county takes possession of the property. The property is then basically auctioned off to the highest bidder. If there are no bids on that property, then the County retains possession of the property through the Treasurer’s deed process. Most of the time these properties may be small, odd shaped or have some legal issues. Out of the approximately 70 County owned properties, most are simply the property mineral rights that are possessed by the County. Disposition of these properties is simple – just sell the mineral rights to the surface rights owner for a discounted price. For others, Gilpin County may own a percentage of a property. These will be offered to the other property owners so they may increase their ownership percentage of the property. The remaining properties are not so easy. They may be too small for a septic system and therefore are unbuildable, odd shaped or landlocked, meaning they have no access to a road. Interest has been expressed by the City of Black Hawk to purchase County owned properties within the City limits. Other potential buyers may be property owners that surround an unsellable lot. The Board of County Commissioners concurred to authorize staff to move forward with the County owned properties issue by placing them on the market soon after January 1, 2021.
Commercial Appraisal Agreement
Gilpin County Assessor Anne Schafer also presented an agreement for Commercial Appraisal services with Jortberg Associates LLC. According to Ms. Schafer, Rich Jortberg has been providing appraisal services to the County for almost two decades and specializes in appraisals of casino property. Cost of the appraisal service is expected the same as last year around $42,600 and is reflected in the approved 2021 budget. A motion to delegate the authority to manage this contract to the assessor was approved unanimously.
Certification of Levies and Revenue
Gilpin County Finance Director Clorinda Smith presented the 2021 Certification of Levies and Revenue to the Board for approval. Changes to the Certification include the new Parks and Recreation mill levy as well as the Library mill levy increase. A motion was made by Commissioner Engels to approve the Certification of Levies and Revenue, was seconded by Commissioner Isenhart, and the motion passed unanimously.
Annual Liquor License Renewal
A motion passed to recess as the BoCC and reconvene as the Local Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) to review a Liquor License Renewal for Roy’s Last Shot restaurant as presented by Deputy Clerk Sharon Cate. According to Ms. Cate this is the only Hotel/Restaurant liquor license in the County outside of the municipalities. An annual review revealed that there were no violations or complaints against the Last Shot and the recommendation for renewal was followed by a motion which passed unanimously. The LLA adjourned and the Board of County Commissioners resumed following the vote to do so.
County Attorney Brad Benning announced that a number of zoning violations cases which have not been corrected will move forward to the County Court in the next few days following a consultation with the Community Development Department.
CARES Act Reimbursements
Gilpin County Manager Abel Montoya highlighted CARES act fund reimbursement forms will be submitted soon. One of the CARES Act Reimbursements is valued around $2 million dollars which will be distributed to Gilpin County, Black Hawk, and Central City. Another CARES Act form is soon to follow that will provide about $1.7 million dollars in reimbursements to Gilpin County for COVID related expenses. Submission of the two reimbursement forms will close out the 2020 CARES Act award period.
The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners passed a motion to recess into Executive Session per C.R.S. 24-6-402 (4) (b) to confer with an attorney for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions.
The next Gilpin County Commissioners meeting is scheduled to be conducted online January 5, 2021 at 9:00 am. For more information visit the County website at www.co.gilpin.co.us.