Rangely’s economic development plan ‘gains momentum’

RANGELY | The Rangely Town Council meeting on Nov. 8 opened with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Trustees were encouraged by town manager Peter Brixius to attend the severance tax symposium in Rifle. “Ken Parsons (former county commissioner) said this is a pretty important meeting to attend. Anytime they try to open that up it’s usually not good for us. We tend to lose ground each time that happens,” Brixius said. Parsons said the meeting was called by the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado at Bob Rankin’s request over concerns that legislators from other parts of the state are “interested in going into how severance tax funds are disbursed.” For northwest Colorado, severance tax monies from mineral extraction are a major source of funding. Rankin is a member of the joint budget committee and is “familiar with the state’s financial issues,” Parsons said. The state is facing a budget shortfall again, and if as in the past, they choose to transfer severance tax funds into the state’s general budget, northwest Colorado counties would suffer more than other parts of the state. Severance tax dollars are split 50/50 between the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). If those funds are cut, DOLA grants and many wildlife-related projects that affect northwest Colorado are at risk. “This is the first time I’ve seen a legislator call together a group of local, elected official to discuss problems at the state level,” Parsons said. Approximately 30 individuals attended the symposium. Brixius also said he has been finalizing parts of the 2017 budget. The county awarded the town a $10,000 grant for non-destructive testing for the raw water tank below the college, but denied a grant request for White River Village. “We’ll do about half of that project next year after adjustments to the budget,” Brixius said. The county had more than $700,000 in grant requests, but just over $200,000 in funds available to award. Brixius said bids to reline the backwash tank as part of the water project came in well below the estimated $80,000, with four bids ranging from $31,000 to $66,500. The low bid for asbestos abatement to the residence at 238 Birch came it at $52,510 for the 850 sq. ft. house. “That seems high,” Brixius said. The town is pursuing options for recovery from the owner of the property. Reporting on the Rangely Development Agency (Rangely’s urban development authority), Brixius said Ray Craig, the head of CNCC’s aircraft maintenance program, spoke on the feasibility study performed by Better City and the potential benefit to the college. Brixius said the discussion about the next phase of the Better City plan and the 2017 costs of working with them is under discussion. “We aren’t as far along as we hoped to be in the initial strategies,” he said, “We’ve communicated that with them (Better City.)” The estimate for the second phase of the Better City project is $100,000, and includes completing the expansion of the flight program discussion, creating a professional promotional video of the community and recruitment. “We’re still working on the pieces of that that make sense,” he said, adding, “I’m not prepared to present that because I don’t fully agree with the scope of work that’s in there now, and they are aware of that.” “I will say one thing for certain,” Brixius said. “It has gotten the creative juices flowing where we hadn’t seen a lot of discussion in the past regarding how to accomplish some of these things, but now we’re gaining some momentum. We’re going to have to quit calling it Better City’s program, this is actually the Rangely improvement plan, or the Make Rangely Great Again plan. Whatever it is, we’re going to have to adopt it, own it. It will be a different plan than what was initially proposed, but there’s going to be pieces in there… they’ve done a lot of homework, the feasibilities they’ve produced are not off the wall, they have real substance to them.”