The county commissioners explained on Monday they believe the City of Delta is the jurisdiction that should be "leading the discussion" on having CDOT assume some $22 million in outstanding debt and take over ownership of Delta's new alternate truck route.
District 1 Commissioner Doug Atchley explained the truck route "is in the City of Delta and its citizens approved a bond to pay for it. It is a City of Delta indebtedness."
Commissioner Mark Roeber agreed with Atchley that the City of Delta needs to lead any discussion of the issue.
The idea of having CDOT take over the truck route debt and assume its maintenance is being advocated by businessman Mark Eckhart of Cedaredge (DCI, Jan 20).
The idea was first proposed as "the critical funding element" in a study by Better City of Ogden, Utah, for creating diversity in the county's economy.
Eckhart was at the BoCC meeting on Monday asking commissioners to sign his petition "demanding" that CDOT take over the truck route in order to free up money for economic development projects.
Roeber said the petition drive's "demand" that CDOT take over liability for the ATR "is a little harsh," adding, "We might be willing to work towards that."
Eckhart said he had considered the strong wording of his petition, saying, "Someone needs to be forcing this issue so people know that it is an issue in Delta County. I'm that someone."
Atchley, a former banker, noted, "There are legal issues with retiring those (Delta) bonds." He said the commissioners have not discussed the matter with CDOT.
There was a general discussion during the meeting of CDOT's established funding priorities in this region. Statewide transportation "is a bigger problem than [the truck route] for CDOT," Atchley said. "CDOT's budget is very strained."
Roeber noted, "There has to be more conversation on the idea."
County administrator Robbie LeValley said, "The board [of commissioners] will be sitting down with the City of Delta."
The commissioners thanked Eckhart for his visit and his efforts, but they declined to sign the petition at Monday's meeting.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, the Delta County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting to consider the board's response to the Bureau of Land Management's preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning the lease parcels proposed for the December BLM sale.
Several people from the North Fork were present to provide input.