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County, Ed Center craft agreement regarding 1B funds

Hoping to answer citizen concerns over accountability, on Tuesday the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved an agreement between the county and Archuleta County Education Center dealing with the use of revenues that would be generated should ballot measure 1B be approved by Archuleta County voters on Nov. 2.

If voters approve 1B, an additional 1.5 mills would be collected by the county and dedicated to the Ed Center.

County Attorney Todd Starr said the agreement would protect the taxpayers, county and Ed Center going into the future.

Citing an example from the agreement, Starr said the document includes restrictions over use of the funds, such as that the center can train employees, but cannot use the funds to market a single business.

The agreement also defines things such as quarterly information reporting, annual reporting and auditing reporting, and gives the BoCC the right to appoint one director to the Ed Center board.

Starr called the agreement, “as good of an agreement as we can get,” and praised the Ed Center’s willingness to participate in such an agreement.

Ed Center Executive Director Don Goodwin said the Ed Center board was in agreement to sign the document at the appropriate time.

Measure 1B was further discussed at Tuesday night’s League of Women Voters forum, in which proposed benefits of the measure included increased job training and ability to attract businesses, as well as the oft-touted educational benefits of the technology 1B would allow a more-effective method of distance learning.

Goodwin said the measure is proposed in perpetuity in order to attract businesses, but added that county voters could always vote the mill levy increase out via referendum should they not approve of the Ed Center’s use of the funding.

Opposition statements to the measure included the unknown number of people who would be served, the unknown cost to those looking to use the technology versus online and area schools, how long the effort had been planned prior to its placement on the ballot, the vague budget presented for the funding and the idea of funding the Ed Center instead of the school district.

In other business at the Tuesday BoCC meeting:

• The board approved the submittal of a grant and accompanying letter of support to the Colorado State Parks, State Trails program in the amount of $200,000 to be used for trails in the Pagosa Lakes area.

• The BoCC approved sending a grant application for $30,000 to the Daniels Fund to support the Senior Nutrition Program.

• The 2011 budget for the County Tourism Committee was approved at $86,500, which included the use of $11,000 or 25 percent of the CTC’s reserves.

In the budget, the main expense is $62,500 to fund the county’s portion of the Visitor’s Center for 2011.

The remainder of the budget is set to fund area events, with a $2,500 funding cap per event.

Special Projects Manager Karin Kohake said over 30 organizations requested funding last year, with about $30,000 of the $100,000 in requests funded.

• The board approved the Visitor Center Management and Services Agreement, an agreement between the Pagosa Area Chamber of Commerce, county and town.

• The board approved two agreements, one between the county and San Juan River Village Metro District, and the other between the county and Colorado Department of Transportation for the county to serve as the fiscal agent for SJRV to use grant money to replace the Harebell Bridge.

• Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation Executive Director Steve Vassallo was appointed to serve as the county’s representative to Region 9, the region’s economic development organization. Starr also serves on the board.

The next regular BoCC meeting will be held Thursday, Nov. 4 at 9 a.m. to avoid conflicting with the Nov. 2 election.

randi@pagosasun.com