Garfield County discusses CARE funding

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – It was matter of just tens of thousands of dollars in a $107 million spending budget.But that small sliver of money generated an hour-long debate among Garfield County commissioners, and directors and supporters of the Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE) shelter, as county leaders considered adoption of the 2008 budget Monday. The budget included a reduction in the shelter’s contract.All three Garfield County commissioners approved the county budget for 2008. It called for the local animal shelter’s contract to be cut to $150,000 next year from $200,000 this year. CARE officials asked for $275,000 in 2008.In a move to cooperate with the local shelter, Sheriff Lou Vallario said he would meet with the shelter’s staff on Wednesday to learn what they wanted to do with the $75,000 increase they requested for 2008 and try to accommodate their needs. Vallario will report on his discussions with shelter staff to the commissioners, who later could vote on a supplement for the shelter.Leslie Rockey, director of CARE, said she was looking forward to speaking with the sheriff about the shelter’s needs.”I feel we will be able to figure out our finances (with the county),” said Rockey.She and supporters of the shelter came to the Monday meeting to open a dialogue with commissioners.”We do a phenomenal job,” Rockey said.The reduction in the shelter’s contract comes as the county plans to spend $107 million and collect $102 million into county coffers next year. The difference will come from the county’s fund balance, which will decrease to $50 million in 2008.The county budget increased almost $8 million since the budget was presented Oct. 12, because of meetings commissioners had with elected officials and department heads, said county manager Ed Green. The additional money is directed mostly to projects, he said.As the commissioners began discussing the county budget for 2008, Commissioner Trési Houpt immediately voiced her concern about a decrease in CARE’s contract, saying the county proposed lowering the shelter’s funding without figuring out whether the move could close the shelter’s doors in 2008.Houpt said she also was concerned that the county’s move could create a potential policy decision regarding animal sheltering during the budget process.”We are not asking to reduce the amount of service that CARE gives us, but we are lowering the amount of money (given to them),” Houpt said. “I am seeing a real disconnect with that.”During the discussion about the shelter, Houpt proposed postponing adoption of the budget for another meeting so commissioners could look more closely at what the reduction could mean for the shelter. That proposal drew a strong reaction from Commissioner John Martin. Martin said what many consider to be a growing animal control problem in the county cannot be solved simply by “throwing money at the problem.” He said county officials should consider working with other entities to take care of animal-control issues.”I like CARE. It is not about CARE,” Martin said. “We will continue to donate and fundraise, (but) we need to branch out.”Commissioner Larry McCown also raised concerns about the level of funding CARE officials requested, saying animals get turned away 50 percent of the time at the shelter.But CARE shelter trainer Tracey Yajko disputed that contention. She said the shelter does whatever it can to take in animals, finding room in every “nook and cranny.”Much of the debate about the funding for the shelter centered around the county’s long-term plans for stray and vicious pets. Vallario said there are plans to include a shelter in the county’s budgeting plans, but a new facility is expected to cost about $4 million.In other business Monday commissioners:• approved a preliminary plan for Lexie Meadows Estates, a plan to subdivide 76.19 acres west of Silt on County Road 227 into 37 single-family lots. The Garfield County Planning Commission recommended conditional approval of Lexie Meadows on Sept. 26, but many neighbors voiced concerns about the project during the Monday meeting.”It will change our lives forever. Is it the right thing for this area of Garfield County?” asked Lisa Caskey, a resident who lives near the subdivision and wrote a letter to the county regarding her concerns about the project’s impacts on wildlife, along with its density and design.”Once our open space is gone, it is gone forever,” she said.• conducted a public meeting about access from Travelers Highlands, which is a subdivision west of Parachute, to Highway 6. The meeting included a presentation from the Colorado Department of Transportation and reaction from the subdivision’s property owners. Houpt and McCown voted to have the county not approve building permit applications in process until the subdivision moves to follow CDOT’s requirements to improve access to the community. Martin voted against the measure, saying building already ongoing should not be stopped. Commissioners approved two certificates of occupancy that have already been authorized. • approved a $25,000, three-month agreement with Jesse Smith, Garfield County assistant county manager, to retire on Jan. 1, but to continue projects “related to oil and gas impacts” he managed for the county. “There are a few projects we need Jesse to take closure on before he leaves,” Garfield County Manager Ed Green said. • approved a $20,000 contract for Mark Bean to continue consulting with Garfield County building and planning director Fred Jarman. Bean previously held Jarman’s position.• approved a contract for $12,500 to Sullivan, Green, Seavy and the Norris Dullea Co. to format the county’s final draft of its land use regulations and provide legal advice and research about the regulations.• approved a request to build an industrial support facility on 2.5 acres to distribute fresh water to support Marathon Oil Co.’s gas development in the area. The site is about 10 miles north of Parachute and two miles from the nearest residence.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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