News from Jefferson County
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Other BCC Actions
Foothills Animal Shelter Lease OK'd
The BCC OK'd the termination of the previous lease agreement between the county and the Foothills Animal Shelter at its old location on Youngfield Service Road and OK'd a new lease agreement for its current location at 580 McIntyre Street. The shelter vacated the old site, formerly known as the Table Mountain Animal Center, and began occupying the newly constructed Foothills Animal Shelter facility on McIntyre Street in August, 2010.
The shelter is now located at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds' campus. The 50-year lease defines the shelter's responsibilities for maintenance, repair and replacement of improvements associated with the new building.
County Getting New Voice Communications System
The BCC approved a contract with MSN Communications for $253,480 for professional services to replace the county's aging telephone system with a Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) system. The BCC also approved $1,936,348 for the purchase of related hardware, software and maintenance.
The county's telephone services are currently delivered via technology which is at the end of its useful life, is costly to maintain, relies upon a separate costly wired voice network, and is expensive and slow to recover in the event of a failure. The new system will be county-wide and supports enhancements to functionality, opportunities to reduce technology costs, increase staff productivity and streamline business processes.
Conservative estimates predict the VoIP system will payback in five years from reduced telecommunications costs alone. The deployment of the new system is an approved 2011 CIP project and should be fully implemented by the end of the year. Funding was approved in the 2011 budget and some of the costs will be covered by the expected trade-in allowance for the old equipment.
Contract for Court Security Equipment Approved
The BCC approved a contract with Henry Bros. Electronics for $234,934 to furnish and install security equipment as part of the courts expansion project.
The security equipment is needed for the remodeled areas, which include Pre-Trial, CASA, Jury Assembly, Clerk of the Courts, Sheriff's Post 1 and the new courtroom. The equipment includes card access, video surveillance and duress alarms as well as related services such as installation and programming.
Public Trustee's Quarterly Report
Public Trustee, Margaret Chapman, presented to the commissioners at Staff Briefings her office's first quarter report. Below are some of the highlights of the report.
The Public Trustee's Office started 713 foreclosures compared to 966 in the first quarter of 2010. This is almost a 24 percent decrease. However, the state's leading foreclosing attorneys say this is a "paper" or "process" reduction in filings due to various court cases, new regulations on lenders and increased reviews of paperwork. This also affected the number of sales which is down. This year 457 properties went to sale compared to 572 during the same time frame in 2010.
The office did have a positive outcome for payments to cure, or bringing a loan current, which was up from 30 in 2010 first quarter compared to 73 this year.
The number of releases of deeds was up almost 50 percent. This reflects a larger than normal number of releases submitted at the end 2010 due to favorable refinancing rates. The first quarter of 2011 shows 12,118 releases compared to 8,132 releases in 2010.
Internally, like the foreclosure situation, the first quarter had its ups and down. The Public Trustee's Office was able to keep its office open during the repairs necessitated by the flood by working temporarily in half of its usual space. The office also hired two of the three additional deputies, replacing the use of temporary employees. Posting for the third position closes April 26, and the office anticipates filling the position by May 15.
For more information on the Public Trustee's Office, visit www.jeffco.us/pubtrust.
Treasurer's Quarterly Report
At Staff Briefings, Jefferson County Treasurer Tim Kauffman presented to the commissioners his first quarter portfolio report for 2011.
The Treasurer's Office is responsible for collecting all real and personal property taxes for the county, all the cities in the county, the school district, and all of the more than 180 special districts which operate in the county. The office acts as the county banker and accounts for and disburses all property taxes. More than 70 percent of the property taxes collected by the Jefferson County Treasurer
The Treasurer is also responsible for investing county funds, until those funds are needed to pay obligations. The first quarter report showed that the Treasurer's Office invested the monies, $251,056,229, in several different ways including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, US Treasuries and several highly-rated liquid deposit vehicles. The investments yielded $596,307 in cash income and projections show that for 2011, cash earnings could be around $2.8 million.
"Fixed income investment market rates remain very low. Our policy and practice continues to be focused on safety and security of the county's funds," said Kauffman.
Jeffco and Boulders Consider
Agreement on Land Adjacent to
Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge
Officials in three jurisdictions - Jefferson County, Boulder County and the City of Boulder - are considering an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that would greatly expand the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, preserve regional open space, resolve transportation issues, and create economic development opportunities in northern Jefferson County.
Staffs from the three local governments have been negotiating since last fall, hammering out details for the draft IGA. The document was reviewed by the Jefferson County Commissioners in a Staff Briefing session April 19, with a final decision to be made by the Jeffco Board next Tuesday. The Boulder County Commissioners will discuss the agreement on April 26, and the Boulder City Council will consider it on May 3.
According to the proposed IGA, Jefferson County would contribute $5.1 million, and Boulder County and the City of Boulder would each contribute $2 million, all toward the purchase of Section 16; the majority of which is owned by the Colorado State Land Board with some surface and subsurface lease interests held by private owners. In addition to making these financial contributions, the partner governments would commit to engaging in good faith efforts to secure the remaining funds that could be necessary to acquire all of Section 16 and to turn it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for inclusion in an expanded Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Section 16, at 640 acres, is located in northern Jefferson County near the intersection of highways 93 and 72, and is adjacent to the wildlife refuge and would provide a critical link for wildlife that connects the Refuge with the mountain backdrop.
The majority of Jeffco's contribution would come from Jefferson County Open Space funds. The City of Boulder's contribution would come from its Open Space funding, and Boulder County's contribution would come from non-sales tax open space funding. While portions of Section 16 have previously been identified as valuable properties in the Jefferson County Open Space Master Plan, all of Section 16 has been identified in the City of Boulder's Open Space Acquisition Plan since 2005.
The IGA also would require the City of Boulder and Boulder County to no longer oppose the construction of the Jefferson Parkway, which will link Highway 93 to Highway 128. Neither the city nor Boulder County would oppose the conveyance of the transportation corridor denoted in the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge Act of 2001 from the Department of the Interior's USFWS to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA).
The IGA stipulates that the City of Boulder and Boulder County governments agree to contact the Department of the Interior, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Denver Regional Council of Governments to withdraw their opposition to the Jefferson Parkway.
Although Highway 93 is a State Highway, owned and maintained by CDOT, the IGA would prohibit the partner governments from taking any steps to reduce capacity or maintenance on Highway 93, including entering into, or voting to support, agreements that would preclude maintenance, operational or capital enhancements. It would also prohibit the parties from making any agreement to toll the existing lanes of Highway 93 without support from all of the governments and the City of Golden.
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution in 2010 committing $5 million toward the purchase. The agreement proposes to place the contributions in escrow until the transportation corridor is acquired by the JPPHA and Section 16 is purchased. After staff negotiations with the City of Boulder and Boulder County that continued into 2011, the agreement now includes an additional $100,000 toward the purchase, bringing the total to $5.1 million.
Additional funding and resources for the acquisition of both surface and mineral rights to preserve Section 16 will be sought from all interested governmental agencies and other sources. It is the intent of the partner governments to place the purchase money in escrow while finalizing the acquisition negotiations. The partner agencies will work to explore the possibilities of leveraging funds through land trades and other exchanges to keep the money in Colorado for the benefit of regional wildlife and open space, rather than sending cash funds to the Federal Government in Washington DC.
BCC Declare April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month
At its April 19 hearing, the Board of County Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse.
Children are our future and while they are our most valuable resource, they are also the most vulnerable. While we may not like to think child abuse and neglect can happen in this community, it does. In Jefferson County, 7,636 referrals of abuse were reported in 2010.
Children have a right to be safe and be provided with opportunities to excel in life. The Jefferson County Children, Youth & Families Division constantly strives to prevent child abuse and raise awareness. It does this by educating the community and by directly supporting and strengthening Jefferson County families. Direct outreach to the families is an opportunity for children to develop trust along with healthy family relationships.
"National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to increase awareness about child abuse and neglect. Children thrive in healthy strong families through the support of great communities like Jefferson County. I would like to encourage the community to report any child abuse and to become involved in helping families thrive by keeping children in our community safe - not just this month but all year long," states Mary Berg, Children, Youth & Families Division Director.
If you witness child abuse or even suspect it may be happening please call and report it to the Jefferson County Child Abuse Hotline at 303-271-HELP. For more information visit the Jefferson County Children, Youth & Families Division online or call 303-271-4015.
County Policy Manual Updated
The Board of County Commissioners (BCC) gave the OK to update three sections of the county's Policy Manual. Policies are adopted by the BCC to provide direction to its departments, divisions, citizens and businesses. Policies range from planning and land use regulations, appointed Boards and Commissions, and county regulations such as traffic codes and even curfews for minors.
Part one, chapter three, section 10 was revised to give the County Administrator the authority to designate an employee to coordinate the county's efforts to comply and carry out its responsibilities under the American's with Disabilities Act. Previously, the policy named a specific employee that no longer works for the county.
The second revision approved was in part one, chapter two, section four regarding emergency management. The County Administrator's Office in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office proposed the change to the policy to streamline the declaration of an emergency or disaster and clarify the responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office, the Emergency Management Office and other elected officials during emergencies.
The Indian Gulch Fire brought to light a section of the policy that required the BCC to declare or rescind a disaster within 24 hours after the chair declares a disaster and with the speed at which fire spreads and the possibility of commissioners being out of town, such a short time period could propose an issue about proper paperwork to receive state and federal assistance. Fortunately the BCC had its normal hearing the next morning after Chair Faye Griffin had declared the fire a disaster and did not need to setup a special meeting. Under the revised policy, the 24-hour provision was removed so proper paperwork, notification and timing of the BCC declaration can occur.
The third updated policy was in part two, chapter one, section two that is about delegation of authority. Normally for contracts, the BCC must approve them before services or goods are provided, but in certain circumstances, such as the waterline break that occurred in February, staff needs to be able to authorize contracts quickly to prevent further damage and safety hazards. The County Administrator will now have the authority to execute contracts or agreements for repair or cleanup of county buildings or facilities when a delay would cause additional damage or safety concerns. These contracts would have to be approved by the BCC in arrears.
Often, routine business requires a signature by the BCC, which would require the BCC to pass a resolution at a public hearing. Preparing the resolution, copying the information, and bringing it to hearing requires staff resources and time. The BCC is making a concerted effort to streamline processes and save staff resources and time, and ultimately save taxpayer money. The remaining delegation authorities were approved to do just that.
Now the chair can sign requests, for vehicles that may be used in undercover operations, to have license plates and registrations with a fictitious name and address or to not have the registration information in the Motor Vehicle Master files. The chair can also execute the Impact Assistance Grant Applications regarding payment in lieu of taxes from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Public Trustee's quarterly reports following presentation to and approval by the BCC.
Another delegation was given to the Director of Development and Transportation to sign waste manifests for hazardous and non-hazardous materials.
Efforts to continue streamlining county processes will continue. To view the county's policies and procedures click here.
Appeal Calendar Expanded
At the request of the Jefferson County Assessor, Jim Everson, the Board of County Commissioners has elected to use an alternate protest and appeal procedure to determine objections and protests concerning valuations of taxable property.
The Assessor's Office is responsible for assessing the value of all taxable property in Jefferson County. The assessed value of a property is used when determining a property's taxes each year. If a property owner believes that the real property has been incorrectly valued or classified or that it was not valued fairly as compared to other properties, the value may be appealed during the period from May 1 - June 1, 2011.
Once an appeal has been timely submitted, the expanded calendar will give property owners more time to communicate with the Assessor's Office and give the office more time to research, inspect properties and make corrections if needed. The Assessor's Office will have until August 31 to issue notices of determination and the Board of Equalization (BOE) will have until November 1 instead of August 8 to hear and issue decisions on appealed cases.
The county has been expanding the calendar each year since 1999, and prior to that time, it had heard from property owners that they felt rushed through the appeal process.
|Commissioners Review County's Debt Management Portfolio
At Staff Briefings, the commissioners reviewed a report on the county's overall financial management and debt portfolio. Since 2002 the county has issued both revenue bonds and certificates of participation to provide needed funding for a variety of capital initiatives and various types of operating equipment countywide.
The county's revenue bonds pledge specific revenue streams generated by county sales taxes to repay the bonds. The Open Space division uses them to raise capital to acquire and preserve county property. Another revenue bond is used for the Southeast Jefferson County Local Improvement District (LID), which uses its half-cent sales tax to address transportation deficiencies in the southeast portion of the county. It was initially issued in 1992 and refinanced in 2002.
The county also utilizes certificates of participation (COPs). These vary from revenue bonds in that they do not pledge a specific revenue stream and associated commitment onto the county. Alternatively, the COPs are structured like a lease/purchase agreement. The county pledges essential assets, such as the Administrative and Courts Facility, as collateral in the repayment of the debt. The county uses COPs for capital needs not operational. The Board of County Commissioners annually appropriates funds to pay the annual financial obligations, but the county does not pledge a long-term financial indebtedness beyond the current fiscal year.
Since COPs are not considered a legal dept obligation of the county, the Jefferson County Finance Corporation was established to serve as the financial trustee of the debt. Both the 2004 and 2009 COP issuances used the trustee format to complete those financial transactions.
2004 COP projects include the construction of the Laramie Building and the new Arvada Library. Included in the 2009 COPs are the Foothills Animal Shelter, paid for with COPs and other funds and will be reimbursed by revenue from countywide dog licenses, purchase of Russell Elementary for Head Start, county-wide energy initiatives, book sorters for the libraries, and upcoming projects like sorely needed infrastructure updates to the detention facility.
A third type of financial tool is capital leases. The county uses these to finance smaller capital needs and they typically have a buy-back provision for the county at the end of the term. Currently the county has a five-year tax exempt lease outstanding for the telecom infrastructure and public safety network equipment that was acquired in 2008.
To date, the county has $224,740,000 worth of revenue bonds, COPs and/or capital lease financing outstanding.
View BCC Meetings Online!
Did you know Jefferson County records each County Commissioners Hearing for rebroadcast on its web site? You can also find recordings of other county meetings, videos of events and Jeffco's video program, Jefferson County Insights. To learn more, click here.