Cultivation tax goes to voters

John Scarffe, Gilpin County. A tax on marijuana cultivation facilities will be placed on the Gilpin County November ballot after the Gilpin County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution to that effect during a regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, at the Gilpin County Courthouse. The Board also passed a resolution combating climate change, discussed snowplowing on Moon Gulch and heard an update on the We the People group, which filed a lien against County staff.

 

Board Chair Gail Watson welcomed new County manager Leslie Klusmire to her first Board meeting. “We’re really looking forward to working with you to help Gilpin County, the best little county in Colorado,” Watson said. The Board hired Leslie Klusmire as the new County manager at a special meeting on July 13.

 

Later in the meeting, Klusmire said this was her seventh day on the job, and she continues to be impressed with the professionalism and skills of the staff. She is honored to be able to work with them.

 

The tax resolution refers a ballot question to the voters about whether the County can impose an excise tax on the first sale or transfer of unprocessed retail marijuana by marijuana cultivation facilities in unincorporated Gilpin County. The tax rate cannot exceed 5 percent of the average market rate of the marijuana.

 

The resolution follows the Board passing an ordinance creating a licensing authority and procedure for three marijuana cultivation facilities at the July 11 meeting. At that time, Board Chair Gail Watson said the Commissioners would be asking voters in November for a 5 percent excise tax.

 

Watson said it could possibly bring in a quarter of a million dollars as the top estimate. The County will send a ballot issue notice 30 days before the special election on November 7.

 

The draft question asks if Gilpin County should increase taxes by $211.464 annually through adopting an excise tax of 5 percent of the average market value rate of unprocessed retail marijuana on the first sale or transfer of it by a retail marijuana cultivation facility. Revenues from the tax will be credited to the County general fund as determined by the Commissioners.

 

On August 1, Watson asked if they could make the tax increase an even $300,000. They have to estimate the amount of taxes they will collect, and if we low ball the amount they can’t keep the amount collected over that stated in the ballot question. Can it say increase taxes up to $300,000?

 

County Attorney James Petrock said it could be worded that way. Watson also asked whether the taxes are collected by the County treasurer or the Colorado Department of Revenue. County Treasurer Alynn Huffman said she can check with Colorado counties who have this issue.

 

Watson said it shouldn’t be that much of a burden because it only affects three businesses. The Board approved the resolution.

 

The Board also approved an intergovernmental agreement for election services with Black hawk. Clerk and Recorder Colleen Stewart said Black Hawk will be running the election, but by statute, the County has to run the notices.

 

Black Hawk can do a hand count and has a polling place, Stewart said. Language for the ballot question is the City’s responsibility.

 

Watson introduced a climate change resolution, which came out of the July 11 Board meeting to support this. “We face major global climate change, and it has been identified in commission goals the last few years. One of the only things we have is a resolution, so we’re looking at ratifying this today.”

 

Commissioner Linda Isenhart said that climate change happens at a local level as well the national level, and the Board approved the resolution.

 

It affirms the Board’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord, environmental sustainability and combating climate change.

 

A consensus exists among the world’s leading climate scientists that we face a major global climate crisis caused by greenhouse gas emissions, with rising sea levels and melting ice sheets creating increasingly unpredictable and unhealthy living environments, according to the resolution. The United Nations Paris Climate Accord is a historic international agreement reached in 2015 aimed at reducing carbon emissions and slowing rising global temperatures.

 

All but two countries in the world have signed the Paris Accords, and the United States ratified the Accords on September 3, 2016. On June 1, 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United State from the Paris Accords, according to the resolution. “Gilpin County opposes President Trump’s intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord and urges the federal government to maintain and actively work to achieve its commitment to the emissions reductions under the Paris Accords.”

 

Director of Public Works and Facilities, Bill Paulman, said he has received an email from three residents asking for snow removal on Upper Moon Gulch and asking for the road to be re-graded. His suggestion is to give an easement to the county and no longer put water bars in the road.

 

The County should reinstate snow plowing on the road for two reasons, Paulman said. The County has been doing it for a long time. When the County put it on its website map, it was publicly stated that the area was maintained in the winter, and one couple bought a house thinking it was maintained.

 

Paulman pulled back from plowing up there when he became aware they were bringing heavy equipment onto private property. The easement is 50 feet wide, but in places the road narrows to 14 feet, so they have been bringing up the grader because it’s narrower, Paulman said.

 

Recently a fence was installed right up against the road, and they don’t have anywhere to push the snow. The residents need to have an understanding that the fence might be damaged.

 

Commissioner Linda Isenhart said the stipulation for plowing should be that residents will hold the County harmless for damage to the fence.
Watson said the County is not responsible for adjusting the drainage in the road. “We’re not talking about re-grading the road. They were trying to throw that into it.”

 

County Attorney James Petrock said that if the County starts maintaining the road, even seasonally, you’re going to get involved in drainage issues. Does the county really want to do that?

 

“Doing this favor for them needs an indemnification of some kind. We really need to make it a county road,” Petrock said. He will work with Paulman to prepare the documents.

 

During his legal status report, Petrock discussed the Colorado attorney general’s indictments of some We the People group members. Six people have been indicted for harassing and intimidating officials, and two trials have been set for September.

 

Denver County resident Stephen-John Nalty presented a Consensual Commercial Lien and Ledger and bill of exchange for $254,708,582.24 to the Board at the June 28, 2016 meeting. Materials presented to the Commissioners and County Attorney Petrock claim that Gilpin County officials, including the sheriff and a judge, have not paid and filed a personal recognizance bond required by the law and the Constitution. Nalty filed 35 documents on the International Commercial Recording Office Public Access Portal, recorded June 28, 2016.

 

The Lien, filed on behalf of the Indestructible Trust for the People in Colorado, states, “This is a non-judicial remedy for the people when their public servants dishonor their oaths of office and engage in predicate acts of conspiracy.”

 

In an email message on July 11, 2016, Nalty said, “Whenever any one of the people’s unalienable rights are violated or due process of law is violated, it is my duty to seek remedy for them.” Nalty said that We the People in Colorado began when many of the people in Colorado broke away from the National Liberty Alliance, which he was with previously.

 

The filing charges Gilpin County Sheriff Bruce W. Hartman, Judge David R. Gloss and Petrock with wrongful dishonor to the bill of exchange, dated July 10, 2015. Most of the materials presented to the Commissioners comprise an alleged indictment of Hartman and Gloss by the People’s Grand Jury in Colorado, Post Office Box 21233, Denver, Colorado, 80221.

 

Petrock told the Board on April 25 that the FBI has been investigating those who filed this lawsuit and has been following these people for years. On August 1, Petrock said three members of the group will be tried for felony activities in each of two trials in Denver.

 

A statute makes it criminal to attempt to influence public officials with threats of violence or economic retaliation, and they tried to collect from public officials in 20 other counties, Petrock said. “They were doing this all over Colorado, not just small counties, even in Boulder County.”

 

They have been indicted under a statute that includes conspiracy, interfering with local government operations and intimidating local public officials with economic threats. They sent a notice of the lien to the county treasurers, and if the treasurer didn’t pay, they would go after people personally, Petrock said.

 

The group hired a collection agency to collect from county officials and then went after individuals. Petrock and Sheriff Bruce Hartman both received notices from collection agencies in the amount $254,708,682.24, and the FBI came to investigate at Petrock’s house.

 

“At this point, I have been subpoenaed to testify,” Petrock said. Coroner Zane Laubhan, acting on behalf of the county sheriff, was subpoenaed, and Alynn Hufman has been called as a witness.

 

Each trial is scheduled for two weeks, the first one from September 18 through 29. Stephen-John Nalty will be in the first trial. Those indicted will be representing themselves.

 

“They don’t recognize the Denver District Court,” Petrock said. “They went after judges, and that got the FBI involved. That’s not a good idea.”

 

(Originally published in the August 17, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)