Board ignited by fire ban, funding requests

Happy Birthday Linda
Commissioner and former Board Chair Linda Isenhart celebrated her birthday during a long meeting of the Gilpin County Board of Commissioners on March 14.

John Scarffe, Gilpin County.  A request for fire restrictions and five funding requests came before the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners during a regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at the Gilpin County Courthouse. Sheriff Bruce Hartman requested enacting Stage One Fire Restrictions along with most of the counties on the Front Range.

 
Hartman told the Board that both Boulder and Jefferson counties have enacted fire restrictions, and Clear Creek will be placing Stage Two fire restrictions at noon that day. Stage Two restrictions are more limiting, but Gilpin County’s will be just Stage One. Clear Creek had a fire last week.

 
Stage One is appropriate for Gilpin County, because the biggest issue is if someone goes camping and has a fire. He dislikes prohibiting residents from needed burning. Stage One restricts camp fires unless they are in a designated camping ring.

 
This is the earliest in the season Hartman can recall enacting fire restrictions. They enacted one in October last year. The Board approved the fire ban.

 
The Timberline Fire District requested funds for a UTV at $28,121 and a skid unit for $11,250. Board Chair Gail Watson said the costs came in under expectations, and the Board approved the request.

 
County Attorney Jim Petrock discussed a notice from the Timberline Fire District announcing a public hearing on April 4, 2017, at 7 p.m. at Fire Station No. Three, 660 Highway 46, to consider calling for an election to include real property in the Timberline Fire Protection District. Properties to be included are Gilpin County taxing area 010 and 025, according to a District notice.

 
If approved, the District would provide fire protection and emergency medical and rescue services, enforcement of fire prevention codes, hazardous materials response and other emergency services, according to the notice.

 

Timberline has the resources, capability and staffing to cover underserved areas.

 
Timberline carries a mill levy of 8.342 mills, so each $100,000 of actual property value will cost the taxpayer $66.40 per year. For more detailed calculations, your residential assessment can be found at http://gilpin.infoenvoy.com.

 
Petrock said that only areas to be included in the District have to vote in the election and have received a copy of the notice. If someone doesn’t want to be included in the inclusion area, they can apply to the District.

 
Today he got a letter from attorneys representing the fire district, which said the Board of County Commissioners is not involved. “It is their belief that was not what was intended. If we get any requests, they should go to the District,” Petrock said.

 
Commissioner Ron Engles asked if they had any indication of how many property owners have requested exclusion. County Manager Roger Baker said that April 5 is the deadline, and the County has already received some requests. He would not be surprised to get several dozen. Petrock said there’s no appeal from that, and the District could deny the exclusion request.

 
Commissioner Linda Isenhart said that $66 dollars per year is just a drop in the bucket for potential fire protection, and Watson said chances are they’re paying $30 a year for fire protection now. Petrock said many of the exclusion requests would involve mining claims.

 
Baker introduced a request for a cemetery fence upgrade above Central City. The fence has been proposed in part due to complaints of trash, vandalism and trespassing during the summer.

 
Baker said one more step has been recommended to make the fencing more stable. “They thought it was worthwhile.” One of three proposals included three alternatives: a split rail, two-rail fence for $41,017; a buck and pole wooden fence for $93,244 or a three-wire wildfire friendly fence at $21,045.

 
Watson said the Board has already approved $10,000, and now we’re at $21,000. Baker said they would be spending more but getting more. Watson said it has to be substantially off the right of way.

 
Public Works Director Bill Paulman said that, if the fence is not back from the road edge, it will be pushed back by the snow.

 
Watson asked if Central City has made any headway on identifying land owners of the area, and Engles asked if the Central City Council can pick up $4,000. Watson said the problem is snow plowing. “I think this needs more work.”

 
Isenhart said we’re seeing the cost going up quite a bit and aren’t sure how that will fit into the budget. Watson said the Board is looking for more information from Central City and asked Baker to reach out to Central City.

 
Gilpin County Fair Coordinator Heather Pearce requested the assistance of Public Works for an expansion of the BMX Track at the Fair Grounds. She proposed widening the current track to the northeast by about 20 feet.

 
The widening would require dirt work and cutting down about 20 aspen trees, according to the proposal. Local residents and attendees of the County Fair think the track is too small and is essentially unusable. “It’s small enough we can’t fit in the younger kids,” Pearce said. During the fair the track is used by about 80 people, and it is used throughout the summer.

 
Watson agreed and said her visual to the track is that it’s old tires and dirt. Pearce said the tires are helpful because it keeps the riders off the road. Paulman said they could fit it in as they do other work. It would take a small fraction of the original work.

 
Watson said: “My feeling is I’m not opposed to this. Anything that would make this more obviously a track would be a good thing. There are not any beautiful towering aspens there.” Engels said the track is unusable as it is, and it’s something for kids to do, so he would be in favor of approving the expansion. The Board approved the track expansion.

 
County Treasurer and Public Trustee Alynn Huffman requested funding for conversion to the Tyler/Eagle Collection System. For two years, they have looked at different tax collection programs, because since 1993 they have been using a DOS-based system through ACS, now fully owned by Xerox.

 
After the Xerox purchase a couple of years ago, it has been going downhill, and they fired her contacts with the company, Huffman said. Her former contacts there have started their own company, and will support the system until 2018. Only five counties in the state are still using ACS.

 
Many of the counties have converted to the Tyler/Eagle system, and Gilpin County’s Finance Department uses the Eagle software. “I have always wanted to be on same system as finance. We work so close together,” Huffman said. All of the County offices then would be on Tyler/Eagle.

 
The company is Tyler, and the software package is called Eagle, Huffman said. The Eagle Treasurer Software package would cost $44,400 with total annual fees of $9,327. Conversion and troubleshooting would cost $73,880. The cost for this year would be $11,100.

 
Engels said he would imagine the savings are not in hard costs but having all the departments working together. Huffman said her dilemma is Tyler/Eagle has a window open in 2017, and the contract with ACS is up in December 2018, so she needs to do something now.

 
Watson said: “We have to trust you and the clerks that have migrated to Tyler, and the fact that it’s cheaper going forward.”

 
Engels said the County is continuing the piecemeal data structure. The treasurer has one software package, and finance is using something else. “That to me is problematic. What I don’t see in this proposal is the integration. There are touch points in between, but I don’t see any significant melding between the two offices.

 
“Something has to happen. Using software from the early 90’s is unacceptable. I would like to see a total integrated system. Everything else being integrated would be the benefit of authorizing this project to move forward,” Engels said.

 
Finance Director Clorinda Smith said she had Tyler come out and show her their personnel program. They do have all the modules. She can reach out to Tyler and tell the Board what it would cost to convert finance. The Board approved the $11,100 to begin the Eagle conversion.

 
Bonnie Albrecht, County Public Health coordinator, and Jody D. Erwin, deputy director of Jefferson County Public Health, presented a proposal for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program funding. WIC is a nutrition program for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, infants and children up to 5 years old.

 
WIC provides nutrition education and nutritious foods to supplement a regular diet, screenings, referrals, specialty formulas and parental classes. Gilpin County has 58 families eligible for WIC services, and they are traveling to Boulder, Jefferson and Clear Creek counties for services, according to the proposal.

 
Albrecht proposed a WIC clinic at the Gilpin County Public Health Office. Erwin said he is looking for part-time help for the office with labor costs of $10,000 and equipment costs at $5,000.

 
The employee must be a registered dietitian and will be trained to identify people who need referrals, Erwin said. Isenhart said that to make a commitment like this they would need to make sure those families would be on board. The program does some great things for new moms and babies.

 
Engels asked where funding would come from for this. Watson said: Numerous requests are hitting us right now. Let’s take this under advisement and do research on why we don’t have WIC. We need a little more information on this.”

 
Later in the meeting, Watson said the Board will have a work session on raising taxes at the next meeting, and they plan to have a priority list for funds at that meeting.