COUNTY BEAT: May 18, 2021

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RBC | During a work session with the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, the Town of Rangely requested a waiver of landfill dump fees for its annual clean-up event this weekend. Western Slope Oil and Gas Association is doing a community-based cleanup day on Friday, as well.

“Most of the clean up [Friday] will probably be outside of town limits,” said Town Manager Lisa Piering. There are a number of illegal dump sites surrounding the community that are “eyesores,” Piering said.

Commissioners agreed to waive the fees, and Commissioner Moyer added that he would like to see that offer extended to the Town of Meeker or other clean-up projects within the county.

Facilities director Eric Jaquez asked the Board for direction in regards to helping with the food bank distribution in Rangely. Since COVID, both Meeker and Rangely have established drive-through pick up options for food boxes distributed by Food Bank of the Rockies.

“Typically there are enough people that volunteer to disperse the food, it’s getting the pallets here [to the Annex],” Commissioner Rector said. Currently the pallets are dropped off at a church, and have to be relocated to the RBC Annex building. Rector suggested communicating with the truck driver to change the delivery location to improve logistics.

“In my opinion, it’s a community service. If we can assist in that, it’s really a cool program for communities,” Rector added.

BUDGET UPDATE

Budget and Finance Director Janae Stanworth updated the commissioners on the status of revenue and expenditures compared to the 2021 budget so far this year.

As of April, the county has collected about 74% of property taxes due from 2020, with another “big distribution” anticipated in June when people pay the second half of taxes owed. Sales tax collection has increased since the first of the year. Highway User Tax Fund (HUTF) collection is at about 28% of what was budgeted for 2021. Use tax is higher than what was budgeted for the year by about $40K, primarily due to one large project. Motor vehicle taxes collected are at approximately 30% of what was projected in the budget.

Stanworth also updated the board on grant money that hasn’t been received before and wasn’t included in the budget, including $1.2 million from the American Rescue Plan. Those funds are limited to specific uses, but don’t have to be spent until 2024. It can’t be used to make up for lost property taxes, or budget shortfalls, or balancing the budget.

Additional expenditures that fall into contingency budgets include another $351,000 for the CR 73 bridge replacement, $9,000 for the GIS data recovery (sales tax collection), $92,000 in personnel transactions, about $100K in additional insurance costs, and $3,250 for the hearing officer brought in for the recall hearing.

Further discussion needs to take place on the Meeker Airport stormwater drainage project, upgrading the power to the broadband towers, and replacing rodeo equipment at Columbine Park.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT UPDATE

Emergency Manager Eddie Smercina shared information from several meetings he’s attended, and discussed the plan for the upcoming Rally Colorado racing event in Rangely.

REGULAR MEETING

  • Commissioners will be adding Rio Blanco County as an “interested party” to a list of entities opposed to the federal regulations on oil and gas development to an amicus brief instigated by the State of Louisiana in response to a request from a representative in the Utah governor’s office.
  • Accepted the terms of the American Rescue Plan Distribution. The county will receive approximately $1.2 million from the U.S. Treasury.
  • Approved a $1,500 grant for the purchase of freezers for Food Bank of the Rockies in the Rangely area.
  • Approved a letter to the Colorado Attorney General’s office in support of having a stakeholder group of elected officials on the Western Slope to be involved in the gray wolf reintroduction plan through Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
  • Appointed Ty Gates as representative to the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council Board and approved a letter of support for the Yampa Valley Economic Development Council (Resiliency and Recovery/Just Transition Northwest Colorado regional working group) REDI Grant application.
  • Accepted a $36K grant for digitization of records in the clerk and recorder’s office as a continuation of a project begun in 2018.
  • Approved advertising for a caseworker in the Department of Human Services.
  • Approved multiple agreements for services for the Department of Human Services.
  • Approved a broadband agreement between White River Electric Association and the County with some amendments to the original agreement.

By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com