County relinquishes permits for WP
In a separation of powers, Teller County commissioners voted to terminate the Intergovernmental agreement with the city of Woodland Park as it relates to building-code services provided by the county.
“There has been friction between the two entities for many years,” said county administrator Sheryl Decker, at the commissioners meeting Aug. 8.
“We have worked hard to improve services where we could, where we weren’t doing things as well as we could have.”
Decker praised the staff in the community development services division, i.e. building department. “They need to be commended on the improvements and how they’ve done it with such a short staff,” Decker said. “They have made huge strides in that department.”
While most issues go along smoothly, in some cases the city has waived the requirement for building permits for projects in Woodland Park and, thus, the county loses the permit fee.
“Our controversies are at a minimum but I feel this is a good time to evaluate how we provide services,” Decker said. “The city, throughout the years, desires a lot more flexibility than we are able to provide.”
Commissioner Marc Dettenrieder agreed. “This is in line with other municipalities (Cripple Creek and Victor), which conduct their own building services and gives the city more flexibility and local control,” he said.
Commissioner Norm Steen was in. “Our building department operates entirely on fees and in the case of Woodland Park, we’ve operated on a $200,000 deficit for many years,” Steen said.
“This is a tough decision but we’re looking at declining revenues and expect falling tax revenue from lower home values.”
In effect, the decision by the county moves the process from one entity to another, Steen said.
The change is appropriate, said commission chair Dave Paul. “About one-quarter of our revenue is on assessed value of properties, personal and commercial,” he said. “We are facing over the next two years the ramifications of the down market. The city of Woodland Park is in a different situation because the majority of their revenue comes from sales tax revenue which has already begun to recover.”
According to the county attorney Chris Brandt, the county must give the city of Woodland Park 90 days’ notice which begins Sept. 1 and ends Nov. 30.
After the unanimous vote by the commissioners, Decker said, “It’s kind of bittersweet.”
Reporting on an issue that affects Teller and Park counties, Dettenrieder highlighted the renewed effort of the U.S. Forest Service to prohibit explosive targets in the forest.
“The crackdown is actually taking place in five states, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado. According to a recent article in The Denver Post, at least 16 fires nationwide are attributed to explosive targets, Dettenrieder said.
“The Springer Fire in our own backyard was started by an explosive target,” he said.
As well, in the past several years, six fires in the Rainbow Falls area off north Colo. 67 were started by explosive targets, he added.
In a county where the needs are great and the budget expected to decrease as a result of reduced property valuations, a report by Linda Johnson and Brad Shaw was akin to a wish list.
Nonetheless, Johnson listed the five top priorities for capital-improvement projects for 2014:
• Upgrade control system in the jail, a critical infrastructure need for future contracts and safety
• Do sidewalk repair around the Centennial Building in Cripple Creek
• Improve parking lot at the sheriff’s office in Divide
• Replace copiers in administrative offices
• Give sheriff’s deputies laptops in their vehicles.
“This does not mean these projects will be funded,” Decker said. “It ultimately is the board’s decision.”