The Grand County Board of County Commissioners continue to work through budget impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. At their August 4th meeting, Finance Director Curtis Lange presented an updated 2020 budget.
Using an estimated $583,503 in reimbursement of CARES Act funds, Lange projected revenue losses of about $2.3 million for 2020. Noting the losses reflect conservative numbers (cutting expected lodging tax and permit fees by 50%), the $2.3 million is a “worse case” scenario.
Since the pandemic emergency was declared in March 2020, the county has spent an unbudgeted amount of $447,452 through August 5. With monthly expenses estimated at $68K, Lange projects they’ll have spent $583,503 by September 30.
In pre-budget 2021 planning, the commissioners and County Manager Kate McIntire have asked department heads to shave 5% off their budgets to address the projected loss in revenues and impact to the county budget.
IMT transitioning to Public Health
The county’s Incident Management Team (IMT), established to address the coronavirus pandemic emergency, has begun transition to the Public Health Department. Grand County Emergency Manager Kat Conrad has taken the lead in the transition.
County Public Health Director Brene Belew-Ladue reported the county cases of COVID-19 had gone down, reducing the status from Red to Yellow. She added that the state had moved to yellow this week as well.
Grand County currently has a total of 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19. One resident is currently hospitalized, 13 are under Quarantine/Isolation due to possible exposure and no deaths have been attributed to the virus. Last week, the Coroner’s Office confirmed the cause of a deceased resident’s death was caused by a condition other than COVID-19. Commissioner Merrit Linke asked Belew-Ladue to assist in removing the erroneous “1 dead due to COVID” Grand County reporting from state data.
As a top priority, Belew-Ladue said she has been working with both school systems on their re-opening, meeting weekly and more often, as necessary, to discuss plans. West Grand Schools plan a “soft opening” on August 24, and East Grand Schools will open for 2-day testing on August 26.
Commissioner Rich Cimino stated, “East Grand teachers are returning to the classroom on August 17. We have 13 days until we have teachers in the building, in a very enclosed environment. I appreciate that being your focus.”
Cimino also asked whether students that choose online training would be able to attend Physical Education and supplemental activities. Belew-Ladue said probably not, that it would defeat the purpose of the option. She explained that there was still much for them to work through, prior to opening. Ensuring adequate testing for students and staff is a critical component to safely opening the schools.
Blight hearings engage property owners in cleanup
The commissioners heard two Blight Hearings on Tuesday. Dennis and Kathy Johnson, owners of acreage adjacent to the intersection of US 40 and CR 5, and Chris Bergquist, owner of acreage south of the Johnson’s which borders the Fairways at Pole Creek.
The Johnson’s have a history of Blight complaints and violations going back to the early 2000’s, and Bergquist was first sent a Notice of Violation in 2010.
Site photos presented by staff of the properties showed junk vehicles and equipment, lumber, refuse, including a pile of tires.
Both properties have outright exemptions, allowing for operation of a lumber pole yard. Johnson indicated much of the wood debris was attributed to the operation. He added that the equipment on the property does run and is for sale. “I don’t consider it junk. Any sawmill, you’re going to see wood scrap,” said Johnson.
The commissioners grappled with the definition of “Blight” and reviewed the language included in the County’s Blight Ordinance.
Commissioner Chair Kris Manguso noted that determining Blight can be subjective. She added that Johnson’s property looked better than it had in prior years.
Both Johnson and Bergquist agreed to work to remove junk vehicles and tires from their property “before the snow flies”.
While a definitive date for cleanup was not set, the commissioners agreed to allow both property owners the opportunity to remove the blight and would revisit on progress later this year.
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners meet the first four Tuesdays of each month at 8:30 am. The meetings are open to the public. To learn more, visit co.grand.co.us.