Road and bridge questions claim dump fees have increased

RBC | There haven’t been any increases to landfill dump fees in Rio Blanco County for nearly a decade. In fact, the county last changed its rates in 2009. A letter from Eagle River Water Services, providers of residential trash services in Meeker for the last four months, indicates that increased dump fees are partially to blame for higher monthly trash removal rates that will begin in April.

The letter, sent to customers, states, “Due to increases in operating costs, i.e., fuel, dump fees, employee wages, insurance, etc., we will be adjusting our monthly service rates which will be reflected on your April invoices.”

“We didn’t raise our fees, and I don’t like to be used like this,” said Road and Bridge Director Dave Morlan, who supervises the county landfill and its fees. County landfill rates haven’t been increased since 2009.

In a full day of workshops and official meetings, the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners addressed code enforcement and discussed the findings from a trip to Washington, D.C., as part of the National Association of Counties (NACO). Commissioner Jeff Rector and commission chair Shawn Bolton attended the NACO meetings and met with state representatives while in Washington.

Rector expressed his disappointment at the amount of time given to the commissioners by state representatives. “I feel like if you go back there you ought to get an hour (with our congressmen). We had a small window.” Support of legislation to restore Anvil Points funding to affected counties was one of the commissioners’ discussion topics.

County building inspector Jeff Kummer presented updates to code violation cases during workshops Monday. Multiple properties have been flagged for code violations, including personal properties throughout the county and  commercial properties like Kum & Go and Natural Soda. The board agreed to revisit the violations at the end of May to determine if progress has been made.

After significant research, the county agreed to resume accepting in-county asbestos waste at the rate of $58 per ton. They won’t accept out of county asbestos materials to the landfill.

A reduction in landfill fees for asbestos abatement through the end of 2019 is anticipated to be an incentive for property owners to dispose of dilapidated mobile homes and other asbestos waste.

In commissioner updates, Commissioner Woodruff said he has been contacted by an individual who would like to term limit county officials. County Attorney Kent Borchard said according to state statute there is no “right of initiative” for the general public to petition for a ballot measure.

Commissioner Bolton said a resolution they presented at NACO regarding electronic logging device records for agricultural haulers passed unanimously.

Commissioners also discussed amendments to the county’s impact fees and the reestablishment of a federal mineral lease district.

Bolton wants to change the way impact fees have been handled so that people “building a barn” aren’t affected by fees intended to address impacts from natural resource development. Commissioners also want to see changes to the way the fees are appropriated. In the past, fees were designated for County Road 5 exclusively. Commissioners want to change that to address all energy impacted roads at the discretion of the road and bridge department.

The commissioners were unanimously agreed on the need to simplify the fee process.

Commissioner Rector said, “Right now we’ve got buy-in from all our oil and gas people to just do basic fees.” It’s hoped that simplifying the process will attract the oil and gas industry back to the county.

Fees would be changed to a flat fee per well pad, simplifying costs for industry.

Commissioners also discussed reestablishing a federal mineral lease district, in order to collect potential funds from the Anvil Points Project, which is currently in committee.

In other business the board:

Approved a building permit for the 4M Ranch on CR 7 for the abatement and demolition of an existing home on the property.

– approved a final settlement for the construction of primary towers for the broadband project

– approved a bid award for a new senior transport van to Davey Coach Sales at $55,350 after trade-in costs and not including the addition of graphics to the van.

– Approved an agreement with Van Diest Supply for herbicide application for $116,749.

– Approved an intergovernmental agreement with CNCC for joint funding and cooperation providing service and functions at Columbine Park. The county has provided an employee to take care of park property since 2016.

– Approved a contract to provide Taser cartridges for the sheriff’s department in the amount of $12,600. The contract includes training cartridges, a simulation suit, and unlimited cartridges. The cartridges are subject to expiration. 

– Approved the annual operating plan between local agencies for firefighting cooperation.

– Are budgeting for the replacement of 13 cattle guards throughout the county.

– According to R&B Director Dave Morlan, CDOT is seeking grants to complete improvements on Highway 13 between Rifle and Craig and on Highway 139.

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