County Beat: June 14, 2018

LAI Audit

Cody Crooks, Rio Blanco County Communications Director, told commissioners Monday they need a new auditor to complete the LAI audit, as the county auditor is uncomfortable auditing a private company. The board is hoping to get the audit done quickly following concerns that LAI has been “embezzling” funds from the county by signing people up for internet services and charging customers, but not making the required wholesale cost payments back to the county.

Rough estimates put the county loss at $30,000-40,000 with 93 hook-ups not paying into the county system as required. The audit is expected to cost $15,000-20,000. Commissioner Woodruff said he is going to reach out to the district attorney and see what recommendations he may have.

The county reported that they are also looking at Cimarron, the county’s other network provider,  for contract violations but have not found any.

Land Use Regulations for Recreational Cabins

The board considered requirements for recreational cabin code exemptions. Currently a property must be a minimum of 35 acres to qualify for building exemptions. The commissioners were in favor of maintaining the current minimum acreage to prevent subdivisions from popping up. They also decided the cabin permits would be recorded to the individual property and that applicants would still need to obtain proper road and bridge permits for driveways. Recreational cabin was defined as a structure with a maximum of 800 square feet of gross floor area.

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulations

State requirements for treatment systems have changed with the county following suit. The changes were described as minimal and the Planning Commission did not object.

Landfill Improvements

A $393,000 contract was awarded to Moody Construction & Sons for improvements to the Wray Gulch Landfill. The landfill will receive a new drainage pond and cell.

Wildlife Damage Mitigation

The board agreed to pay $32,715 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for predator mitigation. The funds will be used for prairie dog and bat mitigation in Rangely and large predator, skunks and raccoon control throughout the county.

Budget

The final 2017 county budget was reviewed. Both revenues and expenditures were reported as expected. The Sheriff’s Office budget was mentioned as being very well managed. The county is anticipating drastically increasing budgetary needs for the Department of Human Services which continue to climb primarily due to increasing child welfare costs and cases.

Both use and sales tax numbers were up for 2017. Commissioner Bolton suggested the county consider finding a way to use some of those funds to help the Road and Bridge Department offset the loss of funds from the dissolution of county impact fees.

It was also reported that the county currently has 15 month’s worth of operating funds available and are required to keep 12 month’s worth at all times.

Building Department Violations

Building Inspector Jeff Kummer provided updates on open code violations cases, primarily centered on old vehicles, “junk pile” items and illegal dumping.

Other Business

The board will be seeking more than $45,000 in reimbursement grants from CDOT and the FAA for the Meeker Airport Beacon Project for various upgrades to the airport.

They agreed to support a grant application for funds to improve the Highway 13 corridor.

The county agreed to a Property Damage Release with Western Express, Inc., after receiving more than $32,000 in damages following a motor vehicle accident in April when a county vehicle was rear-ended outside of Denver.

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