BoCC names new planning commission, county attorney

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met in special session Tuesday afternoon and in 30 minutes time, rendered a number of significant decisions. Most notable among them were the appointment of a new county planning commission and the hiring of a new county attorney.

After more than two months without a county planning commission, the BoCC appointed five “permanent” members and two non-voting alternates to a new commission. Each appointee successfully completed three interviews — one with each county commissioner.

Permanent members are listed below in alphabetical order:

• Daniel C. Aupperle, M.B.A., president of Citizens Bank, former planning commission member.

• Bradley Benz, M.A. applied geography (GIS), mechanical engineer, oil and gas, residential development.

• Kirk England, president/principal Titan CMX701, former corporate vice president design and construction, Harrah’s Entertainment.

• Jeff M. Jones, owner Jones Mechanical and Jones Investment Properties, LLC, 30 years in construction, former member Pagosa Springs Town Board and Archuleta County Planning Commission.

• Steve Van Horn, owner of Great Divide Title, Inc.

The two alternates are Lynda Carter, attorney, land use and affordable housing; and Michael Fite, project engineer/associate, MLF Engineering.

The need for a new planning commission arose immediately after the BoCC forced the resignations of former commission members on Jan. 22. The board has said the removal of the previous planning commission was necessary to address changing times, and was part of a larger restructuring process that could ultimately yield a merger between the town and county building and planning departments.

The previous planning commission consisted of seven appointed members. While each was invited to reapply, none did.

Following brief discussion, the BoCC unanimously endorsed Todd M. Starr as County Attorney, and quickly approved an employment agreement affording him an annual salary of $100,100, plus benefits. Benefits include paid vacation and sick leave; health, disability and life insurance benefits consistent with those of all other county employees; a standard retirement plan; and a motor vehicle use allowance.

The BoCC selected Starr after reviewing 37 applicants and individually interviewing four finalists in late February. He assumed his new role and began work immediately following Tuesday’s proceedings. Part of his responsibilities include representing and providing legal counsel to the BoCC and county administrator, as well as other staff, boards, commissions and elected officials.

According to the employment agreement, Starr is considered an “at-will” employee of the county and will serve at the pleasure of the BoCC. His employment may be terminated by an affirmative majority of the board at any time, without cause. The initial term of employment is three years, with the agreement being automatically renewed annually. Should he be terminated before the employment agreement expires, Starr will be entitled to severance, including three months’ salary and benefits.

Most recently, Starr worked in Cortez where he created a coalition of partners and clients, while rebuilding one of Southwest Colorado’s oldest law firms. For the past 12 years, he provided the area with effective legal representation, and served as the Dolores County Attorney since 2000. From 1990 to now, with law degrees from Creighton and Boston universities, Starr represented a wide array of private and commercial clients in Nebraska and Colorado.

In other action, the BoCC:

• Approved the Impact Assistance Grant application for Payment in Lieu of Taxes for the Colorado State Parks property in the county in the amount of $7.01.

• Appropriated revised sums of money for 2008 due to the change in designation of the airport fund from an Enterprise Fund to a Special Revenue Fund.

• Approved an invitation for bids for the lease/purchase of a new T800 Roll Off Truck for the Solid Waste Department.

• Approved a La Plata Electric Association underground utility easement for the Arboles facility at 95 CR 973.

Todd Starr