COUNTY BEAT: August 24 meeting report

RBC I The Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners held work sessions and a regular meeting in Meeker on Tuesday, Aug. 24. 

CLERK & RECORDER 

RBC Clerk and Recorder Boots Campbell updated the board on preparations for the Nov. 2, 2021 election. On the ballot are school board elections for the Meeker, Rangely and South Routt County school districts. The South Routt district extends slightly into Rio Blanco County, with about six registered voters. Rangely School District will have a mill levy question on the ballot, and Colorado Northwestern Community College has an election for board directors. 

Campbell said the Department of Motor Vehicles has been busy. “Our revenue has not gone down,” she said. The recording department has also been busy this year, and are about to have all the old recordings from the vault put up on the county’s website. 

Campbell also announced the protest hearing on Friday, Aug. 27 regarding the recall effort. 

Asked by Commissioner Jeff Rector about the allegations about Dominion voting machines and if that would impact the upcoming election, Campbell said it’s 

going to be a regular mail ballot election. “All of our equipment is certified for use and we’re going to carry on as usual.” 

TREASURER 

County Treasurer Rhonna Waldref had good news for the board in her update. The county received payment from 31 Group on a tax bill of just under $300,000 in August. So far this year, the county has collected 98.95% of taxes due. 

EXTENSION 

Trees have been the focus of multiple phone calls to RBC Extension Agent Linda Masters this summer. Masters said, “trees are dying all over the county,” likely due to lost soil moisture. She plans to put out guidelines this fall for people on how to water their trees. 

Aphids have been another reason for calls to the extension office, Masters said. 

She’s planning another tree pruning workshop, and continuing to build the master gardener program in the county. 

A website to provide specific answers for drought response is in the works. 

The Extension office is also working with natural resources and the conservation districts on the integrated water initiative. 

Masters praised the work of the 4-H program and participants this year, saying the kids “did great work,” particularly with the indoor projects. 

Jamie Preciado of Rangely is the new 4-H program coordinator for the west side. The Rangely office will be open from 12-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

SALES & USE TAX 

“Revenues are up in most areas,” according to Sales and Use Tax Administrator Debbie Morlan. Overall, compared to the same time period last year, Meeker is up 12%, Rangely is up 16%, and RBC is up 24%. Motor vehicle use tax is up 12% in Meeker, Rangely is “about even” and RBC is up 14%. Construction and building materials sales and use tax is down slightly for both towns, but up about 70% for the county, which Morlan attributed to some large projects earlier this year and “lots of activity” in the county. 

For lodging tax, proposed legislation could expand the definition for the way lodging taxes can be spent. Right now it’s limited to marketing tourism. The county collects about $65,000 a year in lodging tax, mostly from the east side of the county, but that amount is expected to grow with more AirBNB activity in the area. 

Morlan added that through her office, transfers between jurisdictions — mostly from the towns to the county — have averaged about $330,000 a year in recent years. So far this year she has recouped $382,000. 

SOLAR 

James Talley of Spectra Solar returned to the board with additional information about installing a solar array on eight county-owned properties. The board had asked Talley to speak with Moon Lake and White River electric associations. 

According to Talley, Moon Lake’s policies for solar power are “more robust” and moving forward on the Rangely side with a solar program would make sense to start. If implemented, the county would enter a 30-year agreement with Spectra, which provides design, operation and maintenance of a solar array (combined with natural gas generation for backup power). The anticipated cost savings would be about $62,000 a year, and a reduction of about 780 tons of CO2. 

In the regular meeting, the board approved a letter requesting emergency assistance from the state for control of the Wyoming ground squirrel population; appointed Kelly Christian to the Rangely Library Board; approved a letter to CDOT requesting a speed limit reduction from 65mph to 55mph on the east side of Meeker between CR 8 and CR 15; approved a bid for improved solar equipment installation on the secondary broadband towers for $454,000; and approved temporary contract agreements to provide eligibility services and home studies for foster care for DHS. The contracted positions will allow DHS to provide needed services while trying to find people to fill those positions locally. 


By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com

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