This November, Park County voters will be asked to approve a one half percent sales tax to be used exclusively by the Sheriff’s Office for public safety and operations.

The commissioners approved the resolution placing the measure on the ballot Aug. 1. If approved, the sales tax will generate one-half percent, or one-half penny per dollar spent.

Commissioner Dick Elsner said it would generate about $500,000 per year to supplement the Sheriff’s budget, which is around $4 million per year.

The ballot question lists how the money can be used. It includes higher salaries plus additional deputies, school resource officers, search and rescue operations, law enforcement training, K9 operations and training, public safety related equipment as needed, and safety, security, operations and maintenance at the county jail.

Election equipment

The commissioners approved the clerk’s office purchasing ballot sorting equipment. It also date-stamps mailed-in ballot envelopes and captures the voter’s signatures electronically.

If the envelope isn’t signed, it goes into a different tray than those with signatures. Using the return address listed, the clerk’s office will let the voter know that he or she could come to the clerk’s office and sign it. Otherwise, the ballot will not be counted.

Debra Green, county clerk and recorder, said the equipment will save both time and labor costs of conducting elections.

Green said that in past elections, the election judges date-stamped and scanned the voter’s signature. Now ballots will be loaded in batches of 25 into the machine.

The equipment and software were purchased from Runbeck Election Services for $57,000 plus a yearly license and maintenance fee of $8,000.

Green said she has money in the clerk’s budget for the purchase. The annual license fee will come from the clerk’s late fees revenue line item.

Green said many counties are purchasing them, if they don’t already have them.

LUR change

A definition of backcountry hut was added to the land use regulations under outdoor recreational facilities.

The definition states a hut is a building offering temporary shelter to skiers or hikers, including overnight accommodations, and cooking and sanitary facilities. The hut cannot be used as a permanent residence.

Outdoor recreational facilities were added as a conditional use to the mining zone regulations.

Commissioner Mike Brazell said the addition offers more recreational opportunities. He hopes that huts become an economic driver for both winter and summer recreation in the high country.

CORE services

Human Services is required to turn in a plan and budget each year to the state Human Services Department to receive funding for its CORE services programs.

For the 2019-2020 state budget year, Park County’s CORE services added two programs to the ten it currently has.

Almost all of the services are 100 percent paid by state and federal funding.

The two new programs, called family engagement meetings and kinship support, will require a full-time caseworker. Combined annual costs for the two programs are $86,000.

Kinship support covers children who are placed with family members or someone with a significant emotional connection to a child who is removed from the parents.

Family engagement meetings will involve the family in meetings held at critical decision-making events, such as addressing safety, a child’s well-being, or changes in placement.

Costs for the other prevention and intervention CORE services programs are $136,522, of which $36,405 is paid at 80 percent instead of 100 percent.

Board of Equalization hearings

Seated as the county board of equalization, the commissioners approved the findings of the property assessment appeals, hearing officer Betty Clark Wine.

Wine said she was a county assessor for eight years. This is the first year she is the board of equalization’s hearing officer for Park County.

Wine said that 16 appeals were heard at the county board of equalization level. She had adjusted five properties’ values and denied the others.

The total value of the adjustments was almost $158,000 in actual property values and about $20,000 in assessed values.

One appeal was withdrawn before the hearing, and 17 were stipulated with the property owners last week, according to Monica Jones, county assessor.

Jones said that Wine had provided valuable information to her office that will be used in the future.

On July 25, the commissioners approved the findings of 1,093 assessment appeals at the Assessor’s Office level. Of those, two were withdrawn, 415 were adjusted downward and the rest were denied.

The total value of the adjustments was not listed on the assessor’s level appeals document The Flume received, and Jones did not disclose the total value.

Jones said she had given the commissioners the preliminary Park County property assessment report. The report includes actual and assessed property values of all properties in Park County and their present zoning.

That 2019 document was not made available to The Flume, and values were not disclosed during the meeting.

The final property assessment report is due later this year and will be used to determine property taxes to be collected in 2020.

Vouchers

Vouchers were approved on July 25 and Aug. 2 that totaled $485,654.78.

The general fund spent $166,602.

The grant fund spent $84,292 and public works spent $77,527.

The next highest was $48,471 by the fleet services fund.

The conservation trust and the sales tax trust funds spent $33,714 and $35,155, respectively.

Human services spent $9,785, and the insurance fund spent $2,808.

The Sheriff’s seizure fund spent $300.

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