Commissioners heard a report from Chair Doug Atchley during their March 6 regular meeting on a threat to county revenues from proposed state legislative action.
If carried out, the legislation would affect every county in the state by cutting residential property assessment rates from 7.95 percent to as low as 6 percent. The move would be required by a state constitutional provision triggered by a boom in real estate values on the Front Range.
However, for small counties and those on the Western Slope that are not experiencing booming real estate markets comparable to the I-25 corridor, the result would be to cut money flowing into the county treasury from residential property taxes. County assessor Debbie Griffith had previously given a presentation to the BoCC on the same subject.
If implemented by the General Assembly, revenue loss to the county could take effect as early as next year. The revenue loss would be in addition to revenue the county has lost from downturns in the coal and energy industries.
In neither of the presentations by Atchley nor Griffith was there mention of how the revenue might be replaced.
In other business at recent meetings, the county commissioners have dealt with the following matters:
• There are only two vacant spots left for construction of residential airplane hangars at Blake Field, commissioners were told on March 13.
Fly-in traffic at the general aviation airport has increased due to the availability of 24-hour self-service aviation gasoline and jet fuel, and global positioning system (GPS) landing approach technology.
• Vendors selling goods and services to the county will be interested that a countywide purchasing policy was adopted by the commissioners on March 6. Among practices adopted in the policy is one that directly affects the county road and bridge department. The policy sets $25,000 as the threshold for requiring a competitive sealed bid process on all department purchases, including those made by the road and bridge department. The previous threshold for road and bridge was $5,000 that had been established by state statute.
• Commissioners met on March 13 with Chris Miller representing the Western Colorado Interpretive Association. Miller reported on a native plant garden initiative for Fort Uncompahgre, and on a multi-agency funding project for signage along the Highway 50 corridor of the Old Spanish Trail.
• Commissioners approved a bid for 90,000 gallons of magnesium chloride for a price of $59,580, the lower of two bids received for the purchase. The chemical is used for controlling dust on unpaved roads and for ice control in winter.
Commissioners also received a bid for a product called "fossilized water" from a company in the West End of Montrose County. The bid for fossilized water was half the cost of the mag-chlor, but the product did not meet the bid specifications for the purchase.
The county road departments have previously done trials using fossilized water and it was found to be less than satisfactory. However, District 3 liked the material and may be allowed to use it if purchased from its own operations budget this year. Commissioners recommended that another round of trials be conducted.
• Commissioners adopted an amended policy governing disposal of its real property.
• The county engineering department reports that addition of 14 subdivision roads last year to the county road system has increased the miles of county maintained roads by 2 percent in one year. The increase was called "significant" by staff and is expected to up the amount of state payments from the highway users' tax fund (HUT) compared with the $2.8 million received in the previous year.
The engineer's report shows the county currently has 743 miles of road that qualify for state HUT funding maintenance: 217 miles of arterials and 526 miles of local roads.
• Commissioners conducted an executive session to discuss procedures for county government work sessions, broadband and litigation involving the City of Delta and two other parties.
• Commissioners received a jail census report for Feb. 27 showing 39 in detention and 12 in work release.
• Commissioners approved warrants covering bills payable of $386,252 for Feb. 11-24, and monthly payroll of $1.04 million
The clock is ticking. The Delta Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) has 120 days to reach agreement with the taxing entities it's asking to help fund a gateway project near the intersection of Highways 50 and 92. Half that time has elapsed, and there is no Plan B, city manager David Torgler emphasized during a meeting with taxing entities Monday.