2007 AUDIT … When I was out in California, it was very disturbing to hear of several local governments declaring bankruptcy and going into receivership. One never likes to think about that possibility, but it does happen … That’s why I was ecstatic when the county got its 2007 audit report from Peter Blair of Blair & Associates in Cedaredge. “San Miguel County is in much better financial position than 2006,” Peter told the board of county commissioners last week. “You have over six months operating reserves. And that’s really good. Most counties only have two to three months reserves” … Of course, that result’s partly the legacy of Gordon Glockson, the county financial officer who passed away earlier this year. He was insistent on sound financial management, and all of the county boards I’ve served on have worked hard to follow his advice, even when it meant turning down good projects a bit beyond the scope of normal county services … But it’s also a testament to sound county management. Not only did the county have “very little debt,” as Peter explained to us, but he noted that the clerk (Peggy Nerlin) and treasurer (Jan Stout), as well as Ramona Rummel (Gordon’s assistant), “were doing an excellent job.” And that includes instituting some new procedures in the clerk’s and treasurer’s offices that were saving taxpayers over $40,000 a year … As for the numbers, county assets currently total $52 million, while liabilities total $14.4 million. Which means the county’s net assets amount to $37.6 million, with approximately $10 million in fluid assets which “may be used to meet the county’s ongoing obligations to citizens” … That’s the kind of annual fiscal report card that local government, and our citizens, should be proud of.
SPEAKING OF GORDON … Having known Gordon Glockson since my days as a cub reporter for the now-defunct Telluride Times, I strongly felt that we ought to rename the Lone Cone Building in Norwood after him. He was the one responsible for constructing that county facility, and moving his and several others county offices to Norwood – a move that saved travel money for staff involved and proved both efficient and successful. Gordon’s family liked the idea of the renaming, and the board of county commissioners agreed … Look for a dedication of the Glockson Building in the near future.
NEW LAWS … Thanks to a Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) meeting in Montrose a couple weeks ago, I got up to speed on many of the bills that were enacted into laws in the state legislature this year that will affect county citizens. Let me share one with you … The governor signed SB 128 that changes state statute to allow counties to set their own sales tax rates with voter approval. Prior to this there was a state cap on what sales taxes could be collected by a county. This new law will allow the county to spread any new needed taxes to visitors who buy things here and not put the burden only on local residents, primarily landowners … But, as with all new taxes, local voters would have to approve them, before any sales tax hike would be enacted … Personally, I’d like to see county governments given the authority, with citizen approval, to enact a Real Estate Transfer Tax, such as Telluride and the Mountain Village have. Currently, that’s outlawed by the state constitution, thanks to the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights. But if the county could enact a RETT, I believe we could not only hold our property and sales taxes steady (or maybe even lower them), but we could provide increased public transportation, more workplace housing, comprehensive child care, and better county services generally. Neighboring counties agreed at our regional meeting, and CCI will consider championing that idea in the next legislature.
CHILD CARE … The county will be referring a ballot measure to county citizens this election to enact a very small tax increase in order to help provide much-needed funds for early childhood education. It’s a very critical issue that has long been underfunded and threatens the well-being of the many working families in our region … I urge you to take a good look at this measure … Personally, although my kids are all grown past pre-school age, I’m supporting the measure and think it will provide great benefit for the small amount of tax dollars involved … Nevertheless, I know many homeowners are on the edge – with prices rising in all sectors – and even incremental new taxes are of great concern. Still, in this case, I hope citizens will realize the importance of providing help for working parents and their children – who are our future – and will agree to a small rise in the mil levy for county government to help keep child care available to all in San Miguel County.
TERRY BROWN … No one looks forward to going to the dentist. Sitting in the padded chair with multiple hands and tools stretching one’s grin to the breaking point is hardly anyone’s idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon. But recently, after losing a molar to some crunchy breakfast granola, I was reminded of how lucky the Telluride community has been to have such a professional dentist in its midst all these years … Some 30 years ago a head-on collision in Glenwood Canyon (before the freeway was built) broke my jaw, and left my bite a mess. Terry worked and worked until he got it right, and my mouth grew back to comfortable after that mid-life trauma, thanks to his great efforts … This time it was just replacing a tooth. And it wasn’t fun, though relatively painless (until the narcotics wore off after). But Terry and his staff were wonderful, they worked hard to get things exactly right, and I had to give thanks that we’ve been blessed with a dentist who not only is successful, but who cares about each and every one of his patients. And goes the extra mile to make sure things work … Next time you see Dr. Brown, let him know how grateful you are that he’s been our dentist for all these years.
OHV … In talking with a long-time Telluride visitor from Indiana, I learned of a new twist in the complicated off-highway vehicle issue. He’s planning on coming out to Telluride to drive our high mountain passes with a four-wheeler that he’s made street legal in Indiana – complete with license plate, turn signals, car wheels (where that sort of thing is allowed). And because of federal laws that require states to honor each other’s regulations, his OHV will be legal to drive on all state and county roads in Colorado. Which means you may see a four-wheeler driving through town, and up Tomboy Road and coming down Black Bear, and it will be perfectly legal … Unfortunately, with all the exceptions and special situations, OHV use is getting ever more convoluted and complicated. One hopes that the Feds or perhaps the state will come up with uniform regulations that make it possible for law enforcement to do its job, and protect everyone’s health and safety … As it is currently, there are so many special situations for OHVs that it’s almost impossible for a deputy or marshal to know what’s legal or what isn’t.
© 2008 Art Goodtimes
THE TALKING GOURD
rams our Dodge van.
Torpedoes my son’s campout lark.
And bad luck, the dent’s
permanent. Having forgot
Geico bill this month.
Still we find shrooms,
My son & I. Bolete
& hawkswings fry in the pan.