At their quarterly meeting April 27, leaders from organizations across Delta County shared agency updates, financial status, current concerns and plans for the future.
Orchard City hosted the leaders this quarter at Orchard City Town Hall. Robbie LeValley, Delta County administrator, coordinated the discussions.
After introductions, the first comment made was about protecting students and school safety.
Superintendent Caryn Gibson replied that, since Sandy Hook, the district has been concerned about locking all doors to access from outside, including front doors. At front doors there will be two sets of doors. The first will have coverage through a video camera and a buzzer which must be activated for anyone to get in. This precaution is to stop an active shooter. It can also detain an upset parent or other person before admission.
The second set of doors will be locked, with a panic button available at the desks of secretaries.
In reference to questions about school resource officers, Gibson said she is working with Undersheriff Mark Taylor and municipal police chiefs to find solutions to that question. Providing a school resource officer, or officers, will be easier to bring about if each municipality can provide funds to match the school district commitment, she said.
Coming up with matching funds will be challenging for municipalities that are seeing declines in revenue.
Crawford Mayor Wanda Gofforth said Crawford has a 2.42 mill levy, which needs to be 7.42.
Mayor Charles Stewart of Paonia said the town's 2018 general fund budget of $581,000 was down from $774,000 for the 2014 general fund budget, noting Paonia has experienced a dramatic loss in mineral severance tax between 2008 and 2018.
Delta City Manager David Torgler noted that Delta has no mill levy, has seen no increase in mineral severance tax, and is proceeding with the DURA gateway project as an opportunity to attract new sales tax revenues. He added that if sales taxes aren't increasing, the only option is to reduce expenditures.
Lea Hart, director of the library district, stated the district will be requesting a mill levy increase in the November 2018 election. The library district cannot continue reducing hours and decreasing the number of staff as the solution to decreasing revenues. In addition, money is needed for building renovation.
Laura Earley, president of the library board of trustees, stated that in the Delta Library there has been a 112 percent increase in user activity from 2007 through 2017, 108 percent increase in computer use, 24 percent decrease in staff, and 108 percent increase in the expenses of running the library.
The elevator in the Delta building failed recently. If the elevator fails again it cannot be repaired because the parts are no longer manufactured. It would cost $120,000 to replace the elevator.
County commissioner Don Suppes said the Eckert Cemetery District needs a mill levy increase, a statement echoed by Mayor Gofforth for the Crawford Cemetery District
Commissioner Suppes reported that at a recent Colorado Counties, Inc. meeting with county commissioners from across the state, discussion centered around the Gallagher Amendment's effect on the loss of value in the mill levy, which is particularly felt in rural areas.
Suppes added that Gallagher causes the same decrease in value for special districts. Rural constituents may need to get together with urban libraries and special districts and work together to influence legislators, noting that rural and urban will either swim or drown together.
Earley said that most citizens don't know what Gallagher is. A brochure explaining the Gallager Amendment is available from the county assessor; Torgler said there is also a good description on the assessor's website under "Government and Taxes."
At the September municipal quarterly, to be held in Cedaredge, the agenda will include an update on participants' mill levies, update on school issues, intergovernmental agreements between the county and each municipality, housing issues and water conservation.
The election results are in at the local, state and national level, and as expected, Democrats are doing well in state and national races. Colorado has elected Jared Polis as governor; nationally the Republicans appear to retain control of the Senate while Democrats now control the House of Representative.
With a ballot full of local and state measures, voter turnout in Delta County topped 71%, with 15,889 ballots cast. Statewide, voter turnout was just over 52%.
Of the three Delta County residents seeking state offices, Matt Soper won over Thea Chase in State Representative Dist. 54; Mike Mason lost to Julie McCluskie in State Representative Dist. 61; and Olen Lund lost to Kerry Donovan in State Senate Dist. 5.
Locally, in the City of Delta voters rejected a .5% sales tax increase to fund recreation, as well as recreational marijuana sales. The sale of medical marijuana and cultivation/manufacturing facilities was approved by a slim margin. Delta voters also gave the city the green light to move forward with selling or trading the Cottonwood and Riverbend Park, and to sell the old Municipal Light and Power Building.