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Cedaredge tax receipts show healthy increase

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Meeting in regular session on Jan. 18, the Cedaredge Board of Trustees heard a wide variety of reports and updates. Treasurer Patti Michael reported that the construction use tax was up 133.27 percent. This can reflect new construction or other activities requiring a building permit in town limits. Delta County auto sales increased and the motor vehicle sales tax collected by the county for registrations of newly purchased vehicles with Cedaredge addresses increased by 10.78 percent. Town tax receipts for December 2017 were up 6.41 percent. This percentage includes local sales tax, local use tax, local vehicle sales and the town's share of county sales tax.

Interim town administrator, Greg Brinck informed the trustees that the Nature Connection headquartered in Hotchkiss will be working with youth in Delta County and Olathe to promote participation in outdoor activities. Nature Connection also plans to engage in "place development" to encourage outdoor skills and this could result in as much as a $100,000 investment in infrastructure, mostly on school district property.

Local sales tax is growing but at a slower pace than countywide sales tax collections. There is a two-month lag between when sales taxes are collected by the state on the town's behalf and when they are reported. Therefore the most recent figures available reflect October 2017 collections which were up 1.58 percent for the town as opposed to 6.38 percent from Cedaredge's share of county collections. Brinck hopes that citizens will continue to shop locally and he indicated the town will increase efforts to make certain that appropriate sales tax is collected from vendors at 2018's AppleFest event.

Elyse Ackerman-Casselberry, Delta County community and economic development director, provided an overview of the new Delta County Master Plan. The Delta County Planning Commission has been meeting to develop the plan since August 2017. The county planning commission hopes to complete its draft report by late-February with an eye toward adopting the final plan by the end of March. The purpose of her visit to the trustees was to acknowledge that Cedaredge has an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Delta County concerning the relationship between countywide and community-based planning. The county has similar IGAs with every community except Orchard City. The new master plan will impact IGAs and she is visiting communities to assure them that the county welcomes input regarding their draft. Mayor pro tem Ray Hanson stated the clarity of the new county plan is much improved and that the upcoming draft will need to go to the town's planning committee for review. To learn more about the county's master plan process, visit www.deltacountyplan.com, or contact Kelly Yeager, contract planner at 970-874-2110 or Ackerman-Casselberry at 970-874-2105.

Nick Streza, representing the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce, noted the chamber has room for two additional directors to help promote the local economy and area businesses. The chamber will not be participating this year in the Grand Mesa ice fishing contest. The chamber is providing a letter of support to bolster the efforts of the Grand Mesa Arts and Event Center the raise funds for a downtown arts and entertainment venue, plus a similar letter of support for the Impressionz Gallery in their effort to establish the town as an official Colorado State Creative District.

LaDonna Gunn, regional manager for Delta County Libraries, reported that 2017 foot traffic in the libraries was down but library card usage has "skyrocketed," meaning that patrons are making greater use of online resources. Previewing 2018, she noted that the libraries are partnering with The Nature Connection (TNC) to promote activities to get children and young people out of doors. Cedaredge Library will become a "gear hub" for TNC, where participants will be able to check out equipment such as skis, snowshoes and fishing gear when TNC activities are scheduled near the town -- on Grand Mesa for example. Other Delta County libraries will also serve as hubs and equipment will move from hub to hub depending upon activity locations. Another innovation for 2018 is the issuance of "e-cards" to students. In cooperation with schools and with parental permission, a student can use the card to access online resources without having to check out physical materials (books, CDs, or DVDs) that could get damaged or lost. The "e-card" does not fully replace a regular card and students are still encouraged to check-out physical materials if their parents approve, but the "e-card" gives an option to families that are concerned about accumulating fines for lost or damaged materials.

Jim Leser, chair of the town tree board, reminded the trustees that Arbor Day is April 27, 2018, and that Cedaredge has earned the Arbor Day Foundation's "Tree City USA" designation for 24 years. A special celebration is planned for the town's 25th anniversary. The tree board plants trees each Arbor Day on public property and citizens are encouraged to suggest a site in need of a tree. Board members, who are all volunteers, include three master gardeners and each June they conduct "sick tree" clinics visiting trees nominated by the public. In 2017 they had more referrals than they could manage during the one-day event. One of their recent successes has been helping those with walnut trees use a combination of traps and judicious spraying to control the voracious walnut husk fly. The board hopes to update its "trees of the area" publication (last published in 2006). Th tree board's full annual report can be viewed at town hall.

Jacki Dapkus reported that Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control officially changed their name to Surface Creek Animal Shelter. She presented statistics indicating that most dogs come to the shelter as strays and mostly from Cedaredge. Half of strays are returned to owners. Facebook has been an effective tool in reuniting pets and owners. There has been no change in adoption fees which remain at $75 for dogs (includes microchip) and $50 for cats. All animals adopted from the Surface Creek shelter are spayed or neutered. Renovation of the shelter building is proceeding rapidly: the metal roof is on and the windows have arrived.

Scott Lock, co-director of town public works, reported that his department has taken advantage of dry weather to install radio-read water meters. One-third of meters are already installed. Older style lights are being steadily switched to LED and crews are putting down road patches. Lock also reviewed the 2018 list of highway user tax fund streets that must be submitted annually to the state for Cedaredge to receive its share of Colorado gas tax funds. The trustees approved a resolution accepting the street list.

Police Chief Dan Sanders reported that lack of snow has resulted in a drop in traffic infractions. New body cameras have arrived and the department is in the process of working with information technology to make the cameras functional. The new K-9 dog, named Tigger, is a 12-month old male of Dutch shepherd breed. Unlike German shepherds that can grow large, Dutch shepherds tend to be healthier, leaner and more athletic. Tigger is training with Officer Nolan Davis.

The Cedaredge Volunteer Fire Department has 20 active members and room for five more. The public is encouraged to inquire at the police department about joining the firefighting force.

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