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BoCC, town, CDOT seal IGA on access control plan

After years of work and many attempts, Archuleta County, the Town of Pagosa Springs and the Colorado Department of Transportation have entered into an intergovernmental agreement, thus adopting an Access Control Plan for a portion of U.S. 160 that runs through Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs.

The plan provides guidance for managing transportation between Vista Boulevard and Eighth Street moving into the future, including frontage roads, turn lanes, traffic signals and access points to U.S. 160.

Town council members unanimously approved the plan and agreement Thursday afternoon following a brief discussion about funding of future road work.

Trustee Stan Holt asked CDOT representative Tommy Humphrey if CDOT would help fund an extension of Eagle Drive as a frontage road.

Humphrey responded that, while no promises could be made, the project sounded plausible, being the type that CDOT would look at funding.

Longtime trustees Holt and Darrell Cotton praised the fact the plan was being accepted after years of work.

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners echoed the sentiment when passing the plan at their meeting Tuesday.

“I’m just glad to see this finally move forward,” said Commissioner Bob Moomaw.

Commissioner John Ranson was the only commissioner to question the document at the meeting, asking CDOT representative Jim Horn if the document indicated that Vista Boulevard would be moved slightly in a future realignment that would move Meadows Boulevard.

Horn said two options were presented to Cindy Schultz, Archuleta County Senior Planner, with the second alternative showing no adjustment of Vista Boulevard and indicated the BoCC could approve either as a part of the document.

Horn also noted that the document “involves intention,” and that it guides developers and can change as future development is planned.

Built in to the agreement between the entities is an appeal process.

Prompted by another question from Ranson, Horn described the document as an idea of what could happen with changed land use in the future, adding that reasonable access would always be provided.

Horn said CDOT hopes to work on more access control plans for additional portions of U.S. 160 through Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs.

With that, the BoCC also approved the agreement and plan unanimously.

Immediately following the ACP discussion, the BoCC moved on to another new business item affecting the future of Archuleta County.

The board authorized County Administrator Greg Schulte to sign loan documents for Archuleta County Combined Dispatch to purchase new dispatch and 911 equipment.

In addition to Schulte, representatives from the other entities that form ACCD will sign the documents.

The loan is for an amount not to exceed $475,000.

Much of the rest of the Tuesday BoCC meeting consisted of end-of-the-year measures concerning advisory boards and county finances.

The BoCC appointed one new member to the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Task Force to fill the vacancy left by Commissioner-elect Michael Whiting, as well as reappointing eight other members to the board.

Serving on the board in 2011 will be Mat deGraff, Karin Kohake, Tom Carosello, Larry Lynch, Gwen Taylor, Norman French, Sean O’Donnell, Beverly Compton and J.D. Kurz.

PROST is an advisory taskforce formed in the fall of 2008 that recommends uses of the 1A Parks and Recreation funds to the BoCC.

Four other agenda items aimed to clean up the county’s year-end financials:

• The BoCC authorized transferring up to $200,000 from the General Fund to the Employee Benefit Trust Fund to pay additional health insurance costs.

Once all bills are paid, county staff will eliminate the EBTF as part of their elimination of special funds in 2010 and with the change from the county being partially self-insured to joining a health insurance pool with County Technical Services, Inc.

• As required by the Colorado Revised Statues, the BoCC certified the 2011 mill levies and revenues.

• The board passed a resolution allowing for budgetary transfers for 2010 in order to close special revenue funds under guidance from the national accounting board.

Under the resolution, funds from six special revenue funds will be transferred to the General Fund, taking the General Fund balance from $9.7 million to $11.4 million.

Additionally, funding from the Road Capital Improvement Fund ($3.4 million) and 1A roads funding ($900,000) will move into the Road and Bridge Fund, increasing the Road and Bridge Fund to $4.3 million.

• A following resolution approved the supplemental budget and appropriation for 2010, which included over $50,000 more in fees for services being collected than anticipated and an unanticipated sales tax payment of $1 million, among other changes.

Continuing year-end matters, the board voted to grant county employees onetime bonuses for the third year in a row.

Full-time employees will receive $500; full-time employees who have worked for the county for less than six months will receive $250; and part-time employees will receive $250.

Though awarding bonuses for the past few years, county staff has not budgeted for merit increases or cost of living increases in the budgets. The bonuses do not increase the base pay of the employees.

While the BoCC thanked county staff for their patience and help with the county’s financial issues over the last three years, audience member Lee Vorhies disagreed with the BoCC’s choice, voicing that he had compared private- and public-sector pay for similar skill sets in the community and claimed that bonuses for all county employees were not justified and some employees should have received larger bonuses.

Audience member Teri Frazier, however, agreed with the BoCC decision, thanking them for granting bonuses in lean economic time.

During the public comment portion of the agenda, Vorhies questioned the commissioners about statements by the Archuleta County Education Center Board and information on a local website that said the BoCC had budgeted funds to fulfill the Education Center’s request for funding in 2011 to the tune of $50,000.

Schulte explained that, while Education Center representatives had approached the town council and BoCC at a joint meeting of the boards asking for $100,000 to help the center stay open through 2011, the BoCC had not granted the request.

Schulte continued that, if the BoCC wanted to consider giving any money to the cause in 2011, the amount had to be budgeted or the choice would not exist for the commission to discuss.

The money was budgeted as “community education” in the General Fund as a part of the 2011 budget approved last week, with the General Fund being the only fund eligible for the matter, according to Schulte.

Continuing, Schulte noted he was unsure of future Education Center plans, but said it had been a desire of the BoCC to see the Education Center and Archuleta County School District work more cooperatively.

Frazier voiced her opinion on the matter, noting that, following the sound defeat of ballot measure 1B in November, she would be “sorely disappointed” if the BoCC countered the taxpayers and that, should money go to the Education Center, it should be in the form of a loan to be repaid.

The final regular BoCC meeting of the year is scheduled for Dec. 28, though it should be noted that the time of the meeting is set for 5 p.m. The meeting will be held in the commissioners’ meeting room in the courthouse.

randi@pagosasun.com