BOCC Approves Paving Partnership
At the most recent meeting of the Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the Board gave unanimous direction to pursue a unique partnership with residents of Winter Park Ranch’s Mulligan Street, addressing a long-time effort by residents to pave their small stretch of road.
Residents have twice attempted to pass a ballot measure for the creation of an LID or Local Improvement District, a common way to finance and construct improvements in a subdivision or neighborhood, where costs are ultimately billed to residents of the district via their property tax bill. Twice, those attempts have proven fruitless, the first time, failing to garner enough votes for a longer stretch of road serving a high number of part-time residents and, last year, not being presented in time for the County staff to feel comfortable that all required steps would meet the statutory election timeline. Yet full-time residents maintain a desire to address expanding challenges with increased and heavyweight traffic, dust, mud, and deterioration of the roadway.
Following up on a commitment from last July to look into other options, County Manager Lee Staab reported on the most recent effort, by which 15 property-owners along an 1,100-foot stretch of the road are nearing unanimous agreement to pay for the road improvements themselves. He presented an estimated total cost of $124,000, including about $2,000 for improvements to existing manholes and water shut-offs, $12,130 in preparatory labor to be performed by Grand County Road & Bridge (R&B), and a 10 percent or $11,300 contingency.
Staab indicated that the individual cost share would come to about $8,500, not including the R&B work. He then asked the Board to decide if the County was willing to absorb the cost of the preparation work or if they wished that to be included in the residents’ costs.
Commissioner Kristen Manguso, of Kremmling, was ready to respond, “I think it should be absorbed by us.” She then referenced a similar agreement with Pole Creek Meadows, whereby the County had paid for engineering costs as well. “I think, to be consistent, we should stick with that. Plus, we’ll have less maintenance for the next 15 to 20 years.”
Commissioner Rich Cimino, who had championed the residents’ last ballot attempt, also cited recent work on County Road 8, for which the County shared costs. He continued, “I encourage considering this because it went to ballot twice. I would not be in favor of doing this just anywhere in the county. The proper way of doing it is through a special improvement district.”
Chair Merrit Linke agreed. “I don’t think there’s a clear precedent that we’re setting. This is different than any way we’ve done it in the past.” He noted that if the R&B costs were shared by property-owners it would “only add about $800 to the individual bills. But in the spirit of partnership, I would support this.”
Additional discussion addressed ongoing maintenance responsibilities, the unanimity of residents and procedural process. Commissioners agreed on adding the quarter-mile of new pavement to their already 80-plus miles of ongoing paved maintenance, including road failure. “We’re going to do our due diligence up-front,” said Linke. “We have good asphalt people in Grand County. I think it will work.”
Staab indicated an understanding that 14 of the 15 property-owners were supportive of such an agreement, with a single part-time resident remaining uncommitted, with remaining property-owners working on a back-up plan. He then put forth a process by which the County would include the roadway as an optional bid item on their 2018 paving contracts. The Mulligan job would be priced out separately, so homeowners could have a more specific number by May 1. The County would then create an escrow account and have the moneys in hand prior to the commencement of any work.
Responding to questions about the escrow, County Attorney Bob Franek, stated that it was a process that the County was familiar with, but normally with single entities. Linke stated that “it would be easy for them to set up a company or LLC through the state.” And Cimino encouraged recommending this option to the group. “It would be simple and it would protect them,” Franek agreed.
With a possible end finally in sight for their roadway frustrations, Mulligan Street resident Chas McConnell responded to the BOCC support by saying, “We, the citizens and homeowners are very grateful that we have commissioners willing to work with citizens to get things done and that they will work with us on attempting to get this road paved.”
Marijuana Moratorium Ended with Approved Fee Schedule
In other business, the Board unanimously approved the Marijuana Application Fee Schedule as proposed by Sara Rosene, Grand County Clerk and Recorder, whose office is the local licensing authority for all marijuana-related businesses in unincorporated Grand County.
A moratorium on applications has been in place since the end of 2016, in order for the office to review the efficacy of procedures put in place with no previous regulatory framework, upon the legal commencement of commercial marijuana sales to the general public in 2014. The BOCC adopted a new ordinance in January and has only been waiting for a public hearing on the fee schedule to resume accepting applications. No public were present at Tuesday’s public hearing and Rosene reported having received no other comment during the comment period.
The proposed fee schedule was identical to that in place prior to the moratorium. Rosene reported having compared Grand County fees to those of other entities in the state and said, “ours are in line with other jurisdictions. Our costs are reasonable.”
There was minimal comment from Commissioners, with Cimino expressing disappointment at zero public turnout after having several conversations with David Michel, legal counsel for Igadi in Tabernash, particularly over modification fees for multiple license holders. The fee schedule was unanimously approved and adopted by resolution and the Clerk’s office is accepting new applications as of March 1.
County Facing Hiring Challenges
Other updates heard by the Board indicated some recurrent challenges in attracting qualified employees and contractors to the County.
County Manager Staab recalled the County’s agreed-to obligation to assume health inspection responsibilities from the State in 2018. He reported that, of 20 recent applicants to the newly-created Health Inspector position, six were reviewed by Staff and representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). “We found nobody with any qualifications that the CDPHE would recommend that we accept — none.” He clarified that there were specific educational requirements that were met by none, including none with appropriate background experience. The County has reposted the position on the County website and with several CDPHE-recommended field-specific job sites.
Regarding the open position for IT Director, Staab indicated that a hiring panel had recently reviewed applications and made only one recommendation for the next interview step. That individual is not a current Grand County resident. He was interviewed for the position after this edition went to press.
Staab also recounted a recently-scheduled meeting with DirectPath, an intended contractor for part of the on-going Personnel Manual revision and Total Compensation review processes in which the County is engaged. The DirectPath representative was a no-show, with an ambiguous story about having been lost in Hot Sulphur Springs for an extended period of time. The Manager indicated that Staff are now looking at other options for that contract.