County Beat: July 12, 2018

BROADBAND EXPANDS WITH PROJECT THOR

Rio Blanco County will join with multiple surrounding counties working together for increased broadband speed at a lower monthly cost to the county, from $8,400 to $6,900. Project Thor will also increase the reliability of the broadband network. On Monday, RBC commissioners approved a one-time fee of $58,500 to participate in the project. If a DOLA grant is approved, $26,500 of that fee will be covered.

“We could be paying more later on if we decide we don’t want to jump in,” said Cody Crooks, communications department director. After Jan. 1, 2019, counties will have to pay a “buy-in” fee, which will be an inflated cost divided up and returned to the leading counties.

Crooks said they expect a little more than three times the transport speed and protection of service in case a main fiber line is cut.

Crooks also requested approval to hire another full-time technician. Budget Director Janae Stanworth said adding another full-time employee (the department currently has two) is not in the budget.

“You agree to get more dishes [for broadband] or you agree to a full-time employee. You can’t do both,” Stanworth told the commissioners. In 2019 salaries for elected officials will increase 30 percent, adding $118,000 to the county’s payroll without increased property tax valuations. “Anything you say yes to now may dip into something you want to do next year.”

Commissioner Bolton said, “Let’s dip into what we set aside to buy the dishes and get him [Crooks] a person. Let’s get this thing wrapped up and set up right. It’s been overly successful.”

PAID OVERNIGHT CAMPING AT THE FAIRGROUNDS

Economic Development Coordinator Katelin Cook told the commissioners they’ll be seeking a third party to manage paid overnight camping at the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds. A letter of interest and request for qualifications will be sent to all businesses registered with Meeker Lodging Tax.

“We want to utilize a person in that industry already,” Cook explained. The managing business would supply supervision, materials, and oversee fee collection. The county would receive a $10 per night per space maintenance fee. There is enough space for 50 single family camping spaces, utilizing the old baseball field and some of the area behind the bucking chutes.

The fairgrounds would only be open for camping during specified events, beginning with the R100 3D archery event in August.

“We’re between a rock and a hard spot with the fairgrounds,” Cook said. “People go there and camp for free anyway and that isn’t helping our lodging tax businesses.”

There are no plans to institute camping fees during the county fair.

OTHER BUSINESS

Awarded bids to Honnen Equipment for a motorgrader and three loaders for a total amount of $117,365 after trade-ins.

– Awarded a bid to Wagner Equipment for a motorgrader in the amount of $147,150 after trade-in.

– Entered into an agreement with Ariel Clinical Services to provide intensive family therapy services and structured parenting time for a total of $55,000/

– Approved the purchase of an additional 285 reflective stickers for the Wagon Wheel West OHV trail system.

– Approved a contract modification with Phil Vaughan Construction, increasing the amount to $4,500 due to additional projects. s a consultant for the county planning department

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