Grand County Happenings

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by Marissa Lorenz

Frank DeLay sworn in
Frank Delay, former president of Grand Mountain Bank and newly-elected Grand County Treasurer/Public Trustee, was sworn into office by County Clerk and Recorder Sara Rosene in a quiet moment on November 24.

“The County was required to place the office on the ballot out of its normal sequence,” explains Rosene, as the previously-elected Treasurer Christina Whitmer had left office before the end of her term.

County Attorney Chris Leahy advised that the winner of the Treasurer race was to be sworn in “as soon as the election was canvassed.” Canvassing was completed on the 23rd.

Delay will serve until the end of the regular term ending in January 2023, but will have to run again in the 2022 election if he hopes to continue in office. That election will also see races for County Commissioner District 1, Clerk and Recorder, Assessor, Sheriff, Surveyor, and Coroner.

Commissioners Merrit Linke (District 2) and Rich Cimino (District 1), who were both re-elected in the November election, will be sworn into office again on January 12, 2021, at which point their current terms end and their new terms begin.

Moyer appointed interim-manager
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) appointed Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer as Acting County Manager at their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 8.

The Board terminated the contract of Manager Kate McIntire during a special meeting on December 3, leaving a vacant position. (See complete story on page 16.)

A motion was made and approved without discussion, regarding Moyer stepping into the manager’s role. There was also no conversation about plans to seek a permanent hire at this time.

“I’m not in favor of hiring anyone else right now,” Commission Chair Kristen Manguso stated outside of the meeting. “It is my opinion that Ed Moyer is more than capable in this position. The County needs stability right now, and Ed provides that. My goal is to leave it that way for the foreseeable future.”

“We may not seek a new county manager until we measure our performance over the next few months,” Commissioner Cimino expressed similar thoughts via text. “I am more interested in building expert capacity in our high priority areas. We are going to hire a new water expert to add to the team. We are going to improve land use analysis and processing and execution. We are going to continue bending State laws to our advantage. We will continue lowering health insurance costs.” Commissioner Linke had not yet responded with comment at the time of publication.

Final budget approved
The Grand County BOCC approved the final 2021 budget during Tuesday’s regular meeting. County Finance Director Curtis Lange presented three budget resolutions for the County, the Grand County Housing Authority, and the Pole Creek Public Improvement District. He referred to the County budget as “essentially a balanced budget, with almost $45,000 as a surplus.”

County leadership and department heads worked hard to create a 2021 budget with the goal of reducing department spending by about 5%, following a year of reduced revenues, mostly due to COVID-19 impacts. Commissioner Cimino answered a public inquiry, explaining that, while some departments were able to find varying numbers of efficiencies, the County had succeeded in reducing the general budget by about 3-4%.

The budget will be submitted to the State along with an approved budget message that states in part that, “The 2021 budget includes appropriated revenues of $47.6 million from a variety of sources, the two largest being taxes (property and sales), and intergovernmental revenues. (…) The latest real estate valuations by the County Assessor show a slight increase of about 2.15% from the last valuation. Retail sales and recreation spending have increased by about 9% from 2019.”

And about expenditures– “Grand County’s 2021 total budgeted expenditures across all funds total $47.5 million; $22.0 million in personnel (46%), a $518 thousand decrease from the 2020 budget; $24.6 million (52%) in operating, an $85 thousand increasefrom the 2020 budget; and $1.5 million (2%) in capital, a $2.8 million decrease from the 2020 budget.”

Fire Recovery Manager and Communications Director to be added

The BOCC directed staff to pursue hiring two new positions for the County–a fire recovery manager and communications director–and extending a contract for a water quality technician.

Water Quality Specialist Katherine Morris indicated that she had already identified someone with whom the County had worked previously on water initiatives, including GCWIN and Learning by Doing. She noted that as the proposed contract is under $50,000 it does not require an RFP. She proposed starting the contract “ASAP,” saying that December costs could be covered by the current budget and that the contract had been anticipated in the approved 2021 budget.

Commissioners granted approval with Chair Manguso recognizing that “We need help in the water world in Grand County, especially with Ed [Moyer] being appointed acting county manager.”

“This is much needed help,” agreed Commissioner Linke. “I think we’re going to see a tremendous amount of water issues, especially with the unanticipated runoff in the fire damaged areas.”

Acting County Manager Ed Moyer noted that he and Emergency Manager Joel Cochran had been in discussion with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) about a potential fire recovery manager position that could be paid by DOLA at 75% for a two-year period.

“We just see this recovery manager as being a tremendous asset to all of our recovery teams,” presented Moyer. “Each
of our departments is taking on so much additional responsibility with this recovery task force that having one go-to to assist with that effort as well as emergency management–we’re recommending that for the next two years.”

“I think every day that passes is a day where we could have made more progress on evaluating community needs, measuring what can be done–watershed protection, debris,” responded Commissioner Cimino. “Unless there’s major hesitations or concerns, I would like the BOCC to immediately give a thumbs-up on seeking this position. (…) We need it as soon as possible.”–a sentiment with which the other two Board members agreed.

“Along the lines of County workload and satisfying the missions of the County, I think we should discuss hiring a communications director,” continued Cimino. He then offered some salary ranges for similar positions in Summit County government and nonprofits, proposing an appropriate Grand County starting salary range of $65,000 to $85,000 annually.

The exact position and salary has yet to be defined, and it was mentioned that the position could ultimately be either full-time with other shared responsibilities or part-time. Manguso suggested that someone with crisis experience may offer additional benefits.