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Posted on: November 10, 2021

Quarterly BOCC Town Hall Meetings

Jarrod Hasenbalg3

On October 20 and 21, we held our sixth and seventh Commissioner Town Hall Meetings for 2021. We started these sessions in 2017 as part of our effort to improve communications between citizens and the county government that serves you. By holding town halls twice a quarter in various parts of the county, we hope to accommodate all that may have question or issue they want to discuss.

The specific purpose of these meetings is to provide an informal public forum where the commissioners can provide information on ongoing county issues, hear citizen concerns, and answer questions on county matters. Each meeting follows a similar agenda. We provide an update on current issues the county is working on, events of interest that might affect you, and open the floor for Q&A. We find these informal events helpful in identifying problems and concerns we can bring back to staff to work on.

In the most recent meetings, we summarized the county budget, discussed our aging county facilities and plans for their future, discussed a potential Xcel transmission line project in the eastern part of the county, and went over the upcoming county redistricting efforts being led by our Clerk and Recorder and his elections staff.

BUDGET:

We received the proposed draft budget county leaders have been working on for 2022 on October 14. We project overall revenues for this year as 12% above what we expected. Total spending came in at 6% below budgeted expenses. We thank each county employee for continuing to come in under budget. This conservative approach to budgeting and spending will increase our fund balances by $3.4 million. We have come a long way from 2012 when our general fund balance (cash on hand) at the start of the year was under $50,000.

Our current draft budget under review projects spending to be again lower than projected revenues. This is a big accomplishment, as it addressed long-standing pay disparities with competing employers that have driven high vacancies and turn-over in the past several years.

We will hold a public hearing regarding the budget on November 10 and plan to adopt our final document on December 28.

FACILITIES:

In the lean years following the last recession, we halted all but the most critical spending. As a result, nearly $2.5 million in deferred maintenance, which we must now address, accumulated. In 2020 and 2021, we appropriated $500,000 annually to address this. For 2022, we will allocate another $500,000. The focus of this spending has been on items that will preserve and extend the life of our current facilities and planning for the decades to come.

Work completed to date includes many safety and ADA-related improvements and critical items such as new roofs on the Old Court House, the Human Services Building and the Assessors Annex. Future spending will improve heating and cooling efficiency in these buildings.

Besides preserving what we have, we must also address future needs. We are replacing the old (1938) road and bridge shop with a new state-of-the-art building that will serve us through at least 2050. The new shop, located east of the Kiowa Post Office, will ensure a safer and more efficient environment for our crews and better service to our citizens.

Planning will continue regarding needed upgrades to the Justice Center. Again, we are looking at building to support a 2050 requirement. We will need added court space, additional inmate housing and better and larger work areas for our deputies, DAs, and emergency management staff as the county grows.

XCEL POWER PATHWAYS PROJECT

This approximately 600-mile power line project will span 12 counties in the eastern and southeastern portion of Colorado. Please see the separate article and map of its potential impact.

COMMISSIONER REDISTRICTING

The State requires counties to redistrict every ten years after the annual census is complete. This process, led by the Clerk and Recorder, involves input from citizens and local political parties. It results in recommend maps that provide for three districts of a reasonably equal population and meet other criteria to provide balanced representation for all citizens in their county government.

We held an open house for the public on October 12 and a study session for commissioners on October 20. Through this process, two differing maps remain for consideration. We discussed these at the October 27 BOCC meeting. The board will vote on a final map on November 17.

We hope to see more folks attend these sessions and will schedule town halls for 2022 soon. It is a pleasure to serve our great county. Please enjoy the upcoming holidays and have a safe and happy close to 2021. 

Sincerely,

Your Board of County Commissioners,

Chris Richardson, District 1

Rick Pettitt, District 2

Grant Thayer, District 3

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