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Budget, tiny homes on work session agenda for Cedaredge

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To start the Sept. 13 Cedaredge work session, Delta County Economic Development executive director Stacey Voigt addressed the board. To increase communication, she is trying to meet with the county's municipalities once a quarter. She apologized for not meeting with Cedaredge sooner.

After giving background on her family's recent relocation to the area and her history with DCED, Voigt explained how board members and major investors work.

In summary, board members can be elected after making a $500 investment. Those elected are voted in by DCED community members, about 73 individuals, businesses or organizations who have donated to the nonprofit.

Five seats are reserved for public entities or nonprofits which can appoint someone after making a $5,000 investment. With no questions from trustees, she gave updates on the organization's recent work.

Speaking on the passing of Ed Marston, Voigt commented he "did a lot of amazing work with DCED" and that DCED was "deeply saddened." Additionally, she mentioned the resignation of Tom Huerkamp from his board vice president position. He will be focusing more on the hospital, she said.

DCED, Voigt relayed, is planning quarterly meetings for the public to attend. Dates will be announced soon, she assured.

The two main priorities of DCED currently are addressing issues with workforce and housing. For example, Voigt is looking at ways to resolve the lack of middle range ($150,000 to $200,000) housing to meet the needs of Delta County's workforce.

Another goal of DCED is business expansion and retention, but not necessarily recruitment. Similarly, DCED is working with ENGAGE to help the entrepreneur, agriculture and energy workforce make progress in innovations for the county.

She highlighted the Sept. 17-18 E2 conference in Paonia as an opportunity for the community to support these innovation efforts.

Trustee Al Smith asked about the progress between ENGAGE and the Technical College of the Rockies with the old City Market building. Voigt said the school district does now own the building and is working on estimates for renovations.

"They're looking at 60 percent of the building to function for the nursing program," said Voigt. The remainder will be used by DCED, ENGAGE and other innovation organizations. Grants are in the works for the final construction drawings.

Next, the board discussed the 2019 budget. Trustees mainly focused on changes from the August draft. Throughout all funds three changes were made: a reduced wage increase from 5 percent to 4 percent, a 9 percent increase in the 2019 CIRSA property and casualty insurance quote and a 7 percent increase in 2019 health insurance.

A striking observation in the budget overview was the trend of revenue remaining relatively flat since 2005. When looking at the general fund labor expenditures versus tax revenues, the reality is clear: Labor is outpacing tax revenues.

This is primarily due to the lack of revenue increase since 2008. For example, mineral lease and severance tax revenue is nearly $120,000 less than it was in 2008 and has only been decreasing since 2015.

"The board is going to have to think about 2020," said town administrator Greg Brinck, referring to the general fund budget. Revenues will either have to increase, or expenditures decrease. Otherwise, the budget will not keep up with increasing labor and health insurance costs.

Additionally, the board briefly examined regulations on tiny homes. A few requests have been made for building tiny homes in Cedaredge but the current code does not account for such building projects.

The building inspector drafted a proposal to meet certain requirements for tiny homes. The board discussed it, and essentially decided planning commission should work more in depth on the matter.

To conclude the meeting an update on the drought was relayed. "Customers are conserving," said Administrator Brinck. The town estimates its conservation efforts have been successful enough to support the goal of having enough stored water to carry over, in case of another drought year.

Trustee Smith expressed confusion over a handout titled, "Thank you for conserving." Primarily, the revenue statement of $30,000 excess seemed misleading.

However, this was clarified. "We were not planning to make additional revenue on those drought rates, but that is how it has worked out," said Administrator Brinck.

The revenues created from the drought will stay in the water fund. Ideas of how to use the fund, such as rebuilding a dam in one of the town's reservoirs, were discussed.

The board of trustees will meet next on Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. for a public hearing followed by a regular meeting. Meetings are held in the Grand Mesa Room at 140 NW 2nd Street in Cedaredge.

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