Author: Marissa Lorenz

Possible mine closure, tax ruling place pressure on county budget

County Budget Hearings Marissa Lorenz I Winter Park Times. The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the County Manager’s Office, and the Director of Finance have recently completed a marathon 25-plus hours of budget discussion hearings, meeting with each department head in turn and deliberating on each department’s proposed budget for 2018. The process entails a line-by-line examination of anticipated revenues and expenses, previous-year comparisons, and proposed changes of significance. And if any proceeding requiring such an extent of time and attention wouldn’t be difficult enough, Grand County government is facing additional stressors in this year’s process. There...

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Transit Triumph

The Town of Winter Park has had recent reason to be proud of its developing transit system known as The Lift, celebrating its 1 millionth rider in August, some new capital acquisitions, and the honor of a statewide transit award following its first year of operation. But building up infrastructure comes with a price tag, and the Town is now telling partners and other stakeholders that, in order to sustain the current service into the future or continue growth, other revenues and commitments are needed. The Lift was recently named the Colorado Transit Resort Agency of the Year by...

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Grand County Spotlight

The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently heard updates from the Grand Foundation, the Office of Economic Development, and an annual presentation from the Middle Park Conservation District. COUNTY BLOCK GRANTS REVIEWED The Board welcomed Megan Ledin, Executive Director, and Stacy Starr, Grants Coordinator, from the Grand Foundation to discuss the County’s donor-advised fund, whose management was turned over to the Grand Foundation for the first time in 2017. Ledin and Starr presented on the 2017 grant cycle, reviewed applications and awards, and sought direction from the Board for the 2018 funding year.   Ledin indicated that the 2017 fund was $225,000, an amount that represented a 25 percent cut from the year before, reflecting a general restriction enforced across the County budget. She further reviewed that the BOCC had given a very specific mission in 2017, to focus on the areas of health and human services, with some monies going toward education organizations. She said that it was that direction and the 25 percent budget cut that informed their granting decisions. All grant applications were reviewed by a committee composed of Grand Foundation board and staff, and while they were used as resources, any committee member who served with any applicant organizations were asked to abstain from that funding vote. They examined how well the applicant organizations or projects fit within the intention areas, and looked...

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County Considers Granby Landfill

The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) recently revisited the recurring theme of garbage collection and disposal, discussing the viability of reopening the Kremmling Landfill. Commissioner Rich Cimino brought the question before the BOCC, in response to local builders’ concerns over the particularly high cost of disposing construction materials, a cost which is passed on to developers and homeowners. The County Manager’s office was tasked with researching the status of the Kremmling landfill, which was closed in 2010 as part of a shifting county-wide trash disposal plan. Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer reported staff findings to the Board, with an opinion that it would likely be too costly to reopen the landfill, which has limited space and expansion options. The Kremmling Landfill occupies a 40-acre site just northeast of the Town of Kremmling. It is bounded by the Town, the Bureau of Land Management, and the bluffs. It was closed following the closure of the Granby Landfill in 2010, when then commissioners decided to get out of the government-run trash business and encourage private enterprise. The Granby Transfer Station was opened that same year by the Trash Company, or Waste Connections, Inc. Since, Grand County’s waste has been transported by truck to the Erie Landfill, 105 miles away on the Front Range. Recyclables have been hauled to Waste Management’s Franklin Street single-stream recycling facility in Denver. Moyer reported...

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Henderson Mine’s Life Expanded for Six Years

Freeport-McMoRan, owner-operators of Henderson Mine and Mill, have announced renewed mine development, extending the anticipated mine life from 2020 to 2026. The additional mine production will provide some temporary relief to Grand and Clear Creek Counties, which have been faced with reduced revenues due to mining reductions in 2015 and 2016 and in response to a looming mine closure. Henderson Mine has been in operation since 1976 and is the “world’s largest primary producer of molybdenum,” a necessary component in steel production. The molybdenum is then transported, via a 15-mile conveyor belt system to the Mill, south of Parshall in Grand County. But in response to a deterioration in the molybdenum market, annual production rates were cut in late 2015 and early 2016 from 27 million pounds to 10 million pounds a year, already down from 40 million pounds in 2007. In 2016, Henderson suspended development of new mining areas, reduced its workforce, and announced an imminent end to all activities. The notice resulted in serious concerns for the counties, which each receive large property tax revenues from the Mine-Mill, helping to support the local governments and numerous special tax districts. Commissioners in both counties responded by tightening annual and projected budgets. In Grand County, it created a shift from a long-time philosophy of not accruing any County debt, to exploring equipment lease agreements, capital bonds, etc. to meet...

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Around Grand County

The recurring theme of roadways, both public and private, has kept the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) grappling with questions of gravel, money, and access. Discussions have not resulted in unanimous consent and have left many questions and concerns unanswered. In spite of this, a recent BOCC workshop ended in direction to County staff to make 2018 budgetary preparations for paved road maintenance that does not include the maintenance of “residential” roads. A separate consideration concluded with two votes for and one abstention on a Site Disturbance Request by Quad Ranch LLC, aka Devils Thumb Ranch, to...

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Around Grand County

County intern Gabby Willson makes her presentation to the county commissioners. County Manager Lee Staab provided updates this week to the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) about the new Short Term Rental program and Emergency Medical Services. Short Term Rental Program Update New Short Term Rental (STR) regulations were implemented May 23 of this year in order to better regulate registration and tax collection in the ever growing segment of vacation rentals in unincorporated Grand County. The current regulation requires licensing of all businesses and a monitoring and enforcement process that was missing under the old program....

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Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Celebrates 101 Years

Courtesy Angel DeCicco – MPFR Royalty and hopeful Royalty-to-Be, after the Monday evening Queen’s Pageant, consisting of speeches and Q&A on behalf of the girls. (L to R) Jr. Princess Marsha Outen; 2016 MPFR Queen, Madison DeCicco; Contestants Grace Johnson, Briana Baker, Hope Johnson, and Shiloh French; 2017 Princess Maddy Probst; Jr. Princess Brooke Terryberry. 101st Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Opens This past week saw the opening of the 101st Middle Park Fair and Rodeo (MPFR) at the County Fairgrounds in Kremmling, including horse shows; livestock weigh-ins; an exhibit hall filled with arts, crafts, pies, etc.; a royalty competition; junior rodeo; barrel racing and more. The MPFR is a Grand County tradition that reaches back to the very beginning of the 20th century. At that time, horse racing, sharp shooting, and other forms of cowboy entertainment were prevalent in the newly-settled American West, and Grand County was no different. Corrals and race tracks were built around the county. And informal green-horse races and bucking contests were held in the streets of Kremmling, the center of regional commerce in the early 1900s. But following an unfortunate accident on Independence Day, 1911, in which Grand County resident Emory Sevier was thrown from a horse against a brick wall, an effort was begun to make the events safer and more organized. Upon urging from his wife, Sevier’s brother-in-law, Kremmling rancher Henry...

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