Rio Blanco County: 2012 Year in Review

New siding was installed at the Radino Senior Center in Rangely.
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New siding was installed at the Radino Senior Center in Rangely.
RBC I The following review was provided by Rio Blanco County staff.

Assessor’s Office
The assessor’s office’s accomplishments for 2012 included the following:
Discover, list and value all property in a fair and equitable manner which results in the generation of property tax revenue for local governments and school districts. The Assessor’s Office passed the state audit requirements with no recommendations for review and complied with all state mandated deadlines. The Rio Blanco County website shows sales and property locations and a new data web sheet was updated and is now in use. The Assessor’s Office also exceeded the amount of personal property and oil and gas well on site inspections required by state law and completed physical inspections for all sales. As part of the Assessor’s responsibilities, they are required to verify the value of all new construction. This value will be used by taxing entities in the development of the local growth factor.
The Assessor’s Office has undergone conversion to a new computer program replacing an outdated system integrating several systems into one and creating a main public records terminal.

Clerk and Recorder’s Office
In 2012, the County Clerk and Recorder’s office, with the good help of our committed and capable election judges and deputies, successfully conducted a large turn-out mail-ballot primary and a record turnout (95.5 percent) presidential election. To date, on the motor vehicle side, our dedicated motor vehicle staff has issued 2,573 titles and completed 7,752 motor vehicles transactions providing excellent service and solutions to the vast majority of our county citizens. In the recording arena, nearly 2,400 documents have been recorded to-date in 2012 and 43 marriage licenses issued.

CSU — Extension Agent
The Rio Blanco County 4-H program reaches youth participating in livestock, general, and family and consumer science 4-H projects. 4-H Youth Development Education creates supportive environments for culturally diverse youth and adults to reach their fullest potential. In support of this mission, we provide:
n Formal and non-formal community-focused experiential learning.
n Develop skills that benefit youth throughout life.
n Foster leadership and volunteerism in youth and adults
n Build internal and external youth/adult partnerships for programming and funding.
n Strengthen families and communities.
n Use research-based knowledge and the land-grand university system.
We have 48 volunteer 4-H leaders and 260 4-H members in 2012. The volunteers donated in time and effort an estimated $118,817 to promote and support the program. An estimate of the total value of the 4-H/Youth program in Rio Blanco County is well more than $500,000.
4-H is a program that is designed to supplement the education received at school and at home. This program involves youth from ages 5-19 and connects them with community members of all ages. According to the Colorado 4-H Impact study, 4-H members are more likely than other youth to report they: Succeed in school getting more A’s than other students; are more involved as leaders in their school and community; are looked up to as role models; and help others in their community.
4-H’ers are more likely to view the future and their role in the community more positively than youth who have not been involved in the program. 4-H members credit the program with making a significant difference in their own lives, in the quality of their family life, and in the quality of their community.

Department of Social Services
The Rio Blanco County Department of Social Services has had several accomplishments throughout 2012. With respect to court ordered timeliness requirements for processing cases, the department met all medical assistance and financial requirements demonstrating that staff is responding to citizens’ needs for services in a prompt and timely manner. The department has absorbed several new Medicaid programs without hiring additional staff or experiencing errors or delays and all programs are currently under budget for the year. In the child support enforcement program, the department has met and maintained 100 percent performance in four of the five state performance standards, indicating services are being provided to citizens with efficiency.
The department was cited by the state as having made notable improvements in performance related to services provided to children and families in their homes. For example, the Department of Social Services met and maintained 100 percent performance in the following state monitored areas: monthly face-to-face contacts with children in out-of-home placement; timeliness of reunification; absence of re-entry into out-of-home placement within 12 months; children with no more than two placements between 12-24 months; children achieving permanency; detailed records of face-to-face contacts that meet all state and federal requirements. In the state reviews of out-of-home placements, the department had three reviews that scored 100 percent which is rare in most counties and demonstrates that services provided to children and families are excellent and exceed those of many other Colorado counties.

Road and Bridge
In addition to regular maintenance activities, the Road and Bridge Department improved several sections of County roads in 2012. The majority of the work was geared toward County Road 5 (Piceance Creek Road) due to the high industrial traffic volumes and the funding source — impact fees primarily paid by energy companies.
Road and Bridge personnel managed construction on CR 5 Project 1 which corrected the dangerous section between mile post 10.75 and 11.75. The work consisted of major widening, excavation, drainage devices and installation of rockery walls. CR 5 Project 2B involved constructing a full movement intersection at County Road 5 and 24 to provide better safety and more efficient vehicular passage. Approximately one-half mile of County Road 24 was also treated with an asphalt overlay.
A leveling course and asphalt overlay was done on the paved portions of county roads 3, 3A and 76 for a total of six miles. Work included pothole patching, shouldering and highway paint.
The Rangely county crew fixed several major dips on County Road 1, (Blue Mountain Road).
The Bridge Maintenance Program focused on painting and repairing damage and wear-and-tear on six bridges throughout the county.
A forest reserves grant was applied and received for adding drainage and gravel to portions of County Roads 10 (South Fork) and 48 (Uranium Peak) and to improve a dangerous corner on County Road 12 (Marvine).
Road and Bridge staff supervised the design of 22 projects along the entire County Road 5 corridor. By having these projects “shovel ready” Rio Blanco County will be better positioned to apply for funding when grant opportunities present themselves.
Road and Bridge Department crews assisted other departments to ensure the success of their projects, such as installing the OHV Trail Signs, improving roads and assisting with transporting equipment into the remote 800 DTR radio system sites, and grading/gravelling the new Columbine Park Horse Barn in Rangely.

Sales and Use Tax
The Sales and Use Tax Department continues to provide assistance to citizens filing their Use Tax Returns improving overall compliance. With staff reductions at the State level, several responsibilities have been absorbed by the Sales and Use Tax Department, allowing customers the ability to address many questions and issues at a local level without having to contact the state, resulting in a quicker response. The department continues to compile information on changes to be incorporated into the the Rio Blanco County Sales and Use Tax Resolution starting in 2013.
Based on requests from the public, the Building Departments in Rangely, Meeker and Rio Blanco County along with the Sales and Use Tax Department will be conducting informational question and answer sessions in 2013. These sessions will be used to further inform the general public of the various processes within these departments and allow for public input/feedback to improve these processes.

Treasurer’s Office
The over-all tax collection rate for the Treasurer’s Office is 99.93 percent. Some taxing districts have attained 100 percent, while districts in Meeker are at 99.99 percent and Rangely districts are at 99.82 percent. The total outstanding taxes are $36,374, of which a personal property abatement is awaiting State approval for $34,266. Unpaid accounts include four personal property accounts, two oil and gas accounts, and five possessory interest accounts. Rio Blanco County services approximately 10,000 accounts and the 2011 taxes due in 2012 were just over $54 million.
The miscellaneous cash receipts total $23 million for 11 months, on an average of 175 receipts each month. The receipts are from interest earnings, federal and state grants and local fees, fines and services collections. Because of increased efficiency by reporting departments, the Treasurer’s Office has been able to reduce the number of cash receipts from 2,200 in 2011 to 1,900 in 2012. Disbursements of all tax collections and accounts payable totaled more than $72 million with approximately $2 million retained as officer fees for elected officials and all accounts are balanced at the end of each day.
The Treasurer’s Office has two full-time employees assisting the Treasurer which is down by one-half EFT since 2011.
New receipting software will be implemented in mid-January to replace the present software that has been used since 1990. A treasurer’s website addition concerning payment of taxes is being explored.
The annual tax lien sale resulted in all real properties being sold to investors. There were five mobile homes struck off to the county. Overbids amounting to $518 were deposited into the county general fund.

Public Trustee’s Office
To date, the Public Trustee’s Office has opened 38 foreclosures in 2012 compared to 40 foreclosures in 2011. The Public Trustee’s Office has also processed 330 releases of deeds of trust to date with almost one-third of these filings filed electronically, reducing the amount of time and resources required to process the release.

Capital Projects
Columbine Park (Rangely): Three capital projects were completed as part of the facility master plan for Columbine Park. This included a 36×180 foot horse stall barn to accommodate 28 horses used primarily by the CNCC Equestrian Program and CNCC Rodeo Club; a new announcer’s booth; and a new sound system for arena events at Columbine Park.
White River Museum: The roof on the White River Museum was replaced with a new metal roof.
Radino Building (Rangely): New siding was installed at the Radino Senior Center in Rangely.
Rio Blanco County Courthouse: Rio Blanco County began the design of a geothermal system to be installed at the Rio Blanco County Courthouse to replace an aging boiler system and to prepare for construction of a new jail and renovation of the existing courthouse. Installation of the geothermal system is expected to begin in February 2013.
Rio Blanco County completed the construction and installation of new tower sites and infrastructure for the DTR 800 radio system for public safety. This system will enhance communications for emergency responders.
Meeker Airport: The Meeker Airport Runway Reconstruction Project design and bidding process was completed in 2012 and construction on this project started in the fall of 2012. The majority of construction for this project will be completed in 2013 which when completed will bring the Meeker Airport up to C-II Standards. This project is primarily funded through the Federal Aviation Administration with the State of Colorado and Rio Blanco County providing a portion of the funding.
Fairfield Center: Replacement of the Fairfield Center heating and cooling system is expected to be completed by the end of the 2012 and should provide a more efficient and effective heating and cooling system for the community hall.

Other Projects
Wagon Wheel OHV Trail System
Rio Blanco County, Town of Meeker, Meeker Chamber, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, COHVCO, Eastern Rio Blanco Park and Recreation District worked together to submit a grant application to the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife to create a trail system consisting of 250 miles of trails for off highway vehicle (OHV) opportunities. We were successful in our grant application and received funding to begin marking trails, developing maps, and marketing this trail system to OHV enthusiasts. COHVCO sponsored the first White River Rendezvous in July that brought riders to the area to enjoy the trail system.

Broadband Feasibility Study
Rio Blanco County is participating in a Broadband Feasibility Study along with Moffat County, Routt County, and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments which includes Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit counties for regional broadband planning. This project involves the development of a regional strategic plan for broadband capability improvement. The funding comes from DOLA’s Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant Program. The project will seek to build on work that has already been done, or is in the works, to establish the region’s “middle mile” network by focusing on the “last mile” including: 1) an assessment of needs, both infrastructure and services, through surveys, public meetings, and asset mapping; 2) educational workshops to ensure that the participants have the information needed on regulations, economics, and technology to develop a realistic plan; 3) identification of public and private projects already underway to address these needs; 4) identification of gaps in the network and a strategy to fill these gaps; and 5) address sustainability and maintenance of the network into the future. The result will be a regional strategic plan for broadband capability improvement complete with identification of needs, proposed construction plans, cost estimates, timelines, and suggested financing plan. This project will enhance the livability of the region because it seeks to improve one of the core needs for economic development which is improved broadband. The project will get underway in January 2013.

Economic Development
Rio Blanco County, Town of Meeker, and Meeker Chamber of Commerce continue to support efforts of the Economic Development Stakeholder Group. This group was formed on the East end of the County to foster, encourage, responsible economic development activities that will result in creation and retention of jobs, increased tax base, and an improved sustainability and quality of life. This stakeholder group is currently exploring a feasibility study to determine costs for infrastructure development East of Meeker.
Stronger Economies Together (SET) Program — Regional Rural Development
Rio Blanco County, Moffat and Routt County has been selected as a region by the USDA Rural Development, in conjunction with the Southern Rural Development Center, CSU Extension, Colorado Dept of Local Affairs, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and El Pomar Foundation, has selected one rural multi-county region in Colorado to be included in a program called “Stronger Economies Together” (SET). The 2013 Colorado selectee is the Yampa White River Region in Northwest Colorado, which includes Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.
Yampa White River Region’s successful application demonstrated a strong commitment to participate in the SET effort from a broad base of local citizens. Representatives of local government, small business, education, healthcare, economic development and others were a vital component. These stakeholders will enhance their region’s potential to be a stronger and more stable rural economy by combining and sharing resources, knowledge and experience.
The SET program helps regional teams develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities. Selected current or newly formed multi-county teams receive the latest tools, training, and technical assistance to help their region move forward and take advantage of positive growth and quality of life opportunities. “Today’s marketplace includes regional, national or even global levels. The Stronger Economies Together (SET) Program is sponsored by USDA Rural Development (USDA RD) and its partners to support selected regions as build capacity to compete in the marketplace. Selected regions design and implement unique plans, building on their assets and comparative economic strengths.
The program facilitates a thoughtful and analytical consideration of the economic opportunities in each region. SET participation includes: 1) Intensive strategic planning training for their regional team; 2) Database tools specifically designed to help the team examine the critical drivers of their region and identify emerging growth sectors and regional competitive advantages; 3) Technical assistance and educational support from rural development staff, extension staff and other content experts; and 4) Other education and information sharing opportunities with other SET program participants around the country. Training involves active participation by stakeholders over a nine month timeframe.