At Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, following approval of the January 8th meeting minutes, the commissioners switched hats to sit as the Grand County Housing Authority.
Grand County Housing Authority Coordinator, Sheena Darland, provided an update on the transition of Cliffview Assisted Living Center management services from Senior Housing Options to Middle Park Health. Last week, a video conference was held with county staff, Senior Housing Options and Middle Park Health to discuss the transition. Middle Park Health had already held a meeting with current Cliffview staff. Employees with proper qualifications that are able to pass the required background check and drug screening will be retained. Mary Jo Hargadine, RN, BSN, will become the Administrator of Cliffview when the transition is complete. A meeting was also held with residents and family members to alleviate rumors about the change, that rates would be going up.
Darland told the commissioners that Grand Living’s software is now up and running, but, “the federal government is cramping my style”. HUD and the USDA pay about 70% of the rent and no one is sending money during the furlough. “We’re making it, but we just need the federal government to come off furlough”, said Darland, adding, “we are monitoring accounts closely, paying bills that absolutely have to be paid”. Transitioning at the first of the year while the government is on furlough has made things difficult. “We have to make sure we are prioritizing. We have to keep the lights on and the places warm.” Darland committed to providing a weekly update on the status to the commissioners “there’s not much else we can do”.
Human Services SNAP and Public Health WIC clients impacted by shutdown
Director of Human Services, Deb Ruttenberg, next discussed the effects the government shutdown has had on their services. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) required all redetermination paperwork to be in by Tuesday, January 15 for recipients to receive January and February benefits. In order to assist the 22 recipients, the department worked late on Friday, came in Saturday and worked late Monday to make contact with the recipients that had forms due. About 14 of their clients also had to have interviews conducted and they stayed late Monday to make sure they could speak with all of them.
Ruttenberg told the commissioners that they have 207 households/actual cases totalling about 400 people who receive assistance of about $35,500 per month in Grand County. Ruttenberg learned Monday that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) was able to release administrative dollars through February, to pay for staff that issue benefits and administer eligibility. After February, the state, through General Funds and county-only funds will need to be accessed, if the shutdown continues.
Ruttenberg’s staff will be counseling SNAP recipients on making their benefits stretch for the next six weeks, since they’re receiving a larger than normal amount on their cards, with two months’ worth of benefits at once. She had reached out to Mountain Family Center and Grand Foundation for additional support during the shutdown.
Public Health Director, Brene Belew-LaDue told the commissioners that the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program has funds available through the end of February, and that may help some of Human Services’ clients as well, since there is some crossover between the two agencies. Public Health has a current caseload of 120 clients representing about 300 recipients in total.
Belew-Ladue told the commissioners they have been reaching out to clients that have not come in for appointments to determine whether they’re still eligible. “Kids have to be the right age. Most people stay on through baby’s first year of life”, she said.
The agencies are still taking new applications. For WIC, the state has enough money to be able to issue benefits through January and February as they are coming from an uncapped funding stream. However, the redetermination funds are capped. If an application is submitted late, an applicant may or may not get benefits, depending on whether there are funds available.
SIA Amendment releases funds for the Ranches at Devil’s Thumb
LEED Green associate, Alex Taft, submitted Resolution 2019-1-15 authorizing a partial release of funds in the amount of $2,331,970 to the Ranches at Devil’s Thumb subdivision. The county will retain $1,590,813 as collateral for completion of remaining projects. The commissioners approved the resolution unanimously.
County moves forward with second 457 DCP option
Human Resources Director, Colleen Reynolds, presented the commissioners with a second option to the county’s Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP). Currently, the county offers employees a traditional 457(b) Plan, which allows employees to contribute pre-tax earnings into an account to save for retirement. Under this option, benefits are taxable when they are paid out.
The new option, a Roth 457(b) Plan, would allow employees to put after-tax contributions into an account with tax-free earnings. Future withdrawals (after separation of employment, if held at least 5 years and to age 59 and a half), would be nontaxable. Unlike the traditional plan, loans would not be accommodated under the Roth option.
Both of the plans are voluntary, and employees can enroll, change or cease contributions at any time. The county does not contribute or match contributions to the 457 DCP, and this remains unchanged. The commissioners felt it was good to offer employees another option and directed Reynolds to prepare the amendment paperwork for their approval.
DMV experiences billing glitch in December vehicle registration fees
County Clerk Sara Rosene told the commissioners that the new state system, Colorado DRIVES had miscalculated fees, mostly on “preemie” vehicles (vehicles purchased before their model year) as well as on 2009 and 2015 vehicles. “The fee structure is complicated”, said Rosene. Rosene told the commissioners that her staff had been busy investigating inquiries and issuing a lot of refunds.
Commissioner Linke asked Rosene about one of his vehicles, which came in at about double what he’d paid the previous year. Rosene instructed him to bring the registration over and they would take a look at it. Residents that notice a significant change in their renewals should contact the local DMV office in Hot Sulphur Springs. Online inquiries have had more trouble with resolving their issues.
Commissioner Linke asked Rosene “Are you confident the state’s system is working properly?”. Rosene replied, “I can’t really answer that”. It’s still relatively new and, as system conversions go, it seems “when one thing is fixed, another is broken”.
Fair Board looks at Monster Truck Rally for Kremmling Days
Assistant Town Manager, Ed Moyer, told the commissioners that, at last week’s Middle Park Fair and Rodeo Board meeting, they had learned that the proposed Monster Truck Rally would require about 200 yards of filtered material to be brought into arena. “That’s a big request for Road & Bridge to find the material and haul it in”, said Moyer. They would also need to build the track and jumps, tear it down and haul material out after the event, since the material cannot remain in the arena.
Moyer said he had met with the board president and they are looking at alternatives. “There’s a void in events and this event is much needed. We are trying to come up with a plan”, he said. “This may need volunteers and donation from the private sector.” The needed level of effort has not been costed, but will take 1.5 days on either end of the event for set-up and breakdown.
Kremmling Days is scheduled for June 14th, giving the board a little less than five months to formulate their plan.
Moyer also confirmed that the popular Demolition Derby would take place during the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo in August.
Upcoming OLRTAC and Nonprofit Workshops
County Manager Lee Staab updated the commissioners on agenda items scheduled for upcoming BOCC meetings.
On January 22, members of the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Advisory Committee will join the commissioners for a workshop on the ballot measure, which was passed in November 2016. Of interest to many, the 15% cap on trails maintenance funding will be one of their topics for discussion.
On February 5, the commissioners will host a nonprofit workshop to explore the philosophy of nonprofit funding. Staab scheduled the workshop well ahead of the county’s budget cycle to talk about the commissioners’ preferred direction on future funding.
As always, the public is welcome to attend all meetings and workshops.
County begins Manager and Attorney candidate interviews
Following an extensive review of candidates, the field of both the county attorney and county manager applicants has been whittled down to 3 for the attorney and 3 for the county manager positions.
On January 16, the commissioners and staff will conduct Video Teleconferences with the manager candidates and the attorney candidates will follow on January 30. From there, they will move on to in-person interviews on February 6th, with a meet & greet the evening of February 5th.
After that, the BOCC hopes to schedule an Executive Session on February 12 (before Mr Staab’s final day on February 15) to make final decisions on the candidates and extend offers.
Grand Results Strategic Plan Update
Assistant County Manager, Ed Moyer, led the discussion on the county’s newly implemented strategic plan, which had taken effect the previous summer. During development, the county recognized important factors associated with managing the county’s growth, selecting five areas of focus: Transportation: County Roads, Alternative Transportation and Congestion; Affordable Housing; and, Broadband.
In order to track progress on each area of focus, Communication Coordinator Alexa Kimbrough had created a spreadsheet that allowed stakeholders to update the status of a strategy target in “real time”.
Road & Bridge superintendent, Chris Baer, told the commissioners the department had updated snow policy posted on the county website. “The biggest change is that we have added CDOT’s traction laws as a reminder” to the community, said Baer, adding “our weather conditions up here can change at the drop of a hat, and sometimes, we can’t keep up with that”. Baer reinforced the importance in people taking responsibility for their safety.
Baer admitted the department hadn’t had the time to devote to working on the Plan, but assured the commissioners they would continue to work on the strategies and put together dates that are reasonable.
Moyer told the commissioners that the focus has been on the Kremmling and Granby airports and that train and transit (buses) are forthcoming. “Planes, trains and automobiles”, joked Moyer. The county has deployed trail cams at both airports which allows them to monitor usage.
Community Development is talking with CDOT about a survey of the US 34 corridor. CDOT only pays 50% of study, so costs for the survey would need to be budgeted. “That is part of congestion”, said Moyer.
The county continues to work toward development of CR 522 and had turned in all information for an extension of properties north of the ballfields. The county had asked for update from the US Army Corps of Engineers, but they are currently furloughed. An agreement with the town of Fraser is also needed for the section of road between CR 5 and CR 73.
Commissioner Cimino asked “This has been evaluated previously, has a traffic study been conducted?”. Moyer told him that it had been done, back in 90’s. A traffic analysis that showed where 522 would be accessed gave them the impetus to acquire property in that area. Commissioner Cimino asked to read the report.
Housing Authority Coordinator, Sheena Darland told the commissioners that questionnaires had been sent to all municipalities to help with completion of the county housing needs assessment. She’d also asked the towns of Fraser and Winter Park for the results of their housing needs assessments in order to roll their information in. Darland is meeting with each municipality to work collaboratively on housing. “We’ll know more after meeting with the municipalities”, said Darland.
Darland said she was also meeting with Robert Davis to discuss what to use the housing funds for in the future and how to increase the funds. “There’s a lot of moving parts all moving at the same time”, said Darland.
No update was given during the meeting.
Architects present update on future facility needs
County Manager, Lee Staab, gave background on the next agenda item. Part of the county’s goals identified while developing the Grand Results Strategic Plan was to look at county facilities and determine a strategy to replace them or consolidate them, as necessary. In October, the county selected Reilly Johnson Architecture (RJA) of Denver to help the county plan for future facility needs.
Bob Johnson of RJA told the commissioners he’d met with each department in November to look at the current work environment and gather information to make projections to as far out as 2038.
Johnson told the commissioners he started off by having discussions and collecting information from EMS in Granby and Fraser, the Sheriff’s Department and Detention Center, Human Services and Public Health. He had also factored in the Grand County Animal Shelter, which may need to move in the next few years. All told, the total square footage for all facilities is about 46,654 square feet.
“We are not going to get to money today, but we will soon”, said Johnson. RJA is due back to go over costs at the February 5th BOCC meeting. “Today, with a little scrutiny, I’m looking to the department heads to make sure I listened and got it right. Where it goes today is up to the board.”
Johnson’s presentation showed where the current facilities are at today. He told the commissioners that the square footage needed was double the amount they have currently. “How can that be? It’s because everyone is not where they need to be today”, said Johnson.
Johnson walked through an overview of renderings the firm had designed for the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center. He offered two options for the facility. Concept A would redesign and expand the existing facility into the parking lot to the south. Concept B would move the entire complex onto the space currently being used as the courthouse parking lot.
Hot Sulphur Springs resident, Christine Lee observed the size of the Detention Center was almost 3 times the size. “Does that mean we are going to have 3 times as many inmates?” Johnson explained that the center has an average of 28-30 inmates per day and the current facility is not adequate for 28 inmates. Colorado has adopted American Correction Association standards and the current detention center is “woefully inadequate”. Using projections formulated by an expert from Kansas City, RJA recommends building for 52 – 60 inmates, with potential for as many as 80.
Commissioner Linke noted “The population of Grand County was 7,475 in 1980, which is about half of what it is today”.
“Arrests have gone up significantly”, said Johnson. “The consultant predicts about 22% growth and 52 is the number of inmates projected”, said Johnson. “This is the first draft, used to get to this point today.”
Hot Sulphur Springs resident, Dan Nolan, asked whether the visitor population, which often doubles or triples the population numbers, had been factored into projections.
Johnson explained that they had used multiple methods to determine the projected rate of incarceration.
Allen Pulliam and Ray Jennings with EMS stated that, looking at 2018 numbers, roughly 50-55% of their clients are visitors (with zip codes outside the county). Jennings added “We have between 2-4 million visitors per year. Last year was our highest number of calls in our history. We had about 2,500 calls and over half were transported out of the county. Interestingly, most of the calls came from the Fraser Valley side of the county.
Hot Sulphur Springs mayor, Bob McVay, told the commissioners that he liked the concept and stressed the importance of keeping the detention facility in Hot Sulphur Springs. “I know there are other properties available, but you have to consider transport, security, and, the weather. “The citizens support it remaining here – there’s plenty of land available”, said Mayor McVay.
At the meeting on February 5, Johnson said they would come back to talk about costs. “We’ll have the dollars for teardown, build and numbers for a hypothetical co-located campus”. The co-located campus would include Public Safety, EMS, Public Health and Social Services. A location for such a facility is yet to be determined.
Grand County Rural Health Network Director, Jen Fanning, told the commissioners that she had identified 11-12 nonprofit organizations serving mutual clients that would be interested in securing space in a new co-located facility, for the efficiencies it would offer. “As part of the discussion, I’d like to throw out to the Board consideration of nonprofits that are interested in co-location”, adding, “We could get grants, so the county would not be footing all of the expense”. Fanning said that consumers would benefit from a Health & Human Services collective of organizations that serve that population in a single location.
Johnson asked Fanning for assistance in identifying the number of staff at each organization and they could factor in an additional 300 square feet per staff member to the cost analysis, adding the nonprofits in as a line item.
Commissioner Manguso told Johnson, “I want to see it both ways (with and without nonprofits)”, noting that the public may have concerns with the county funding a handful of nonprofits, when others pay for their own buildings and space.
Commissioner Linke asked Johnson if he was clear on the direction. Johnson replied “I will prepare a very detailed cost model. I think I can present it to you clearly on February 5”.
Sheriff Brett Shroetlin told the commissioners “It is important that you come and sit down with the undersheriff and I to discuss our concerns with the proposal”, adding, “there are a lot of safety and security items in our current location. We want to be transparent, but some of the stuff that worked in 1980 does not necessarily work for us today”. The commissioners agreed to meet with Sheriff Shroetlin on January 30, following the attorney candidate interviews, to discuss sensitive items in jail security.
County Manager Staab thanked everyone for attending the meeting. “It is important for you all to be here on the 5th” to give more input on the project. “On the 12th of February, following your input, I will help the commissioners look at different funding options to pay for these facilities”, said Staab. “I will need to develop the five year budget strategy. There are facilities that are falling down around them and priorities will need to be set”.
To listen to the meetings and learn more, visit : co.grand.co.us.