John Scarffe, Gilpin County. The Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners discussed reimbursement for County manager semifinalists during a regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at the Gilpin County Courthouse. The Board also discussed fair plans, casino coupons and marijuana grows.
Commissioner Linda Isenhart asked that reimbursement for County manager semifinalist candidates be added to the agenda. Finance Director Clorinda Smith gave the Commissioners all kinds of scenarios, Isenhart said, but she would like to simplify it and pay the candidates for one night’s lodging, as long as it doesn’t go over $200.
The candidates would pay the costs upfront and get a receipt, Isenhart said. Commissioner Ron Engels said the one exception would be the person the Board hires. Board Chair Gail Watson said they have to limit what they will pay.
Engels said that they should reimburse the semifinalists for an overnight stay and meals. “I can’t imagine it would be over $400 max,” he said, adding that $150 for a room is fairly common in Denver and $40 to $50 for car rental. That would be pretty clean and save a lot of paper work.
Isenhart made a motion that they budget $250 for semifinal County manager candidates, and the candidates will send in their receipts for reimbursement. The board approved the motion. The Board also set dates to interview candidates and will provide a chance for the public to meet candidates on July 19. The time is yet to be determined.
Gilpin County Fair Coordinator Heather Pearce discussed plans and requested a Special Event Liquor Permit for the 2017 Fair. The Fair will be on Saturday, August 19 to 20, and Pearce said the schedule is mostly finalized.
This year, the food booth will be on the black top, because it didn’t get enough traffic in the gymnasium. She plans to have a full integrated stage with a human circus on Saturday. Outside the stage will be zombie paintball booth.
Vendors and face painting will be in the barn. Firemen with the Timberline Fire Protection District will be there all weekend, as well as a bicycle race. The Gymkhana will take place on Saturday, and the rodeo will be bigger and better this year, Pearce said.
Rides will include a giant obstacle course and hamster ball drag racing. Pearce has hired temporary workers and has been working with the Sheriff’s Department on parking and people crossing the highway. The Board agreed to approve an ordinance that no parking will be allowed on County roads during the fair.
The Board convened a public hearing for the Special Events Liquor Permit for the Fair. Pearce said that on Saturday, August 19, alcohol would be served from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, August 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be allowed between the grandstands and the sales booth but not in the exhibit area.
Pearce has a sponsorship deal with Community Gaming to run the beer booth with beer and cider. No service groups were interested in providing the service this year. Engels said it is a nightmare to make sure everyone is trained, and this is a much easier solution. The Board approved the permit.
Watson asked the Commissioners if they would sign a letter of support asking Colorado Gaming not to tax casinos’ free play coupons and said they had agreed as a board to support it. At the joint Black Hawk Council and Gilpin County Board work session on May 10, Black Hawk Mayor David Spellman asked the Commissioners if they would be willing to sign a joint letter. Casinos send out free play coupons to invite people to Black Hawk, and they can be exchanged for tokens or chips. The casinos have to pay a tax on that.
At the May 23 meeting, Watson said the casinos mail out $10 free play coupons. Not having the coupons taxed will jump start gaming numbers. Isenhart said that Colorado is the only one of several states that has the tax, and not having the tax will help the bottom line revenues for the County.
Engels said the Central City Alderman Jeff Aikens spoke passionately against it and had a concern that smaller casinos would not benefit from not having the tax. Watson said, “That is a concern, but I think we’re aware of our fiduciary responsibility to pass it.” She said the Board would get something for review.
County Attorney Jim Petrock said his office is working on amending the County’s resolution regarding marijuana grows and has drafted an ordinance that would authorize grow facilities on a countywide basis. It is based on using licenses and having a license fee of $15,000.
“If you want to control the number of outlets, you can limit the number,” Petrock said. There would only be an X number of licenses possible. “It’s such an easy way.”
The subject of marijuana grows in the county resurfaced at the Board’s April 11 meeting when the owners of Rocky Mountain Organics (RMO) requested a variance to expand their facility for a marijuana grow. To mitigate potential impacts, RMO offered to voluntarily pay an impact fee of $3.6 per square foot per month, which would generate $108,000.
The Board voted to disallow the variance. Isenhart said they were struggling with how to identify the impact fees. Engles said he wants to see such businesses grow and succeed, but the impact fee wasn’t the way to go about it. The Board needs to step back from the ordinance that does not allow grow operations and rework that.
At the May 23 meeting, Watson said she wanted to be able to take advantage of the benefits of zoning, and Petrock said they can still do that with licenses, which would be on a first-come, first-served basis. “It’s a way to collect a fee up front.”
Engels said that part the discussion was to leverage the legal market to help control black and gray markets. Petrock said that every year the licenses could be renewable, and they wouldn’t have to try to prove the impact.
Engels asked that, in addition to the license fee, could the ordinance have a measure for an excise tax. How, generally, are excise taxes measured for a grow operation? Petrock said that 5 percent is what other counties have done.
Petrock said that Community Development Director Tony Petersen is okay with it, and Petrock suggested that the Board have a work session on the matter. The ordinance also would address the issue of the number of plants allowed, because the Colorado legislature just changed that.
Watson said they planned to a have work session with Petersen on Thursday, May 25, and Petrock said he could attend that.
(Originally published in the June 1, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)