Garfield County pledges $1M for Silt infrastructure |

Garfield County pledges $1M for Silt infrastructure

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

SILT, Colorado – The Silt trustees got a $1 million promise Monday when the Garfield Board of County Commissioners pledged the money to help finance an economic development program for the town.

The trustees set the program in motion by approving the formation of an Urban Renewal Authority.

The actions came in a joint meeting of the Silt Board of Trustees and the Garfield Board of County Commissioners, which also drew more than 80 people.

The authority, which has been under discussion for two years, has been picked by the trustees as the best way to boost commercial development without raising taxes paid by local residents.

More commercial activity in town, the trustees maintain, will increase the flow of sales tax revenues needed for municipal operations.

Still to come, in terms of the county’s grant, is an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the town and county governments laying out the ground rules for the use of the funds as Silt tries to attract a grocery store and other businesses to galvanize its economy.

The town, which had initially asked the county for $4 million, would use the county funds for infrastructure such as sidewalks, street improvements, utility work and other projects associated with commercial development.

The money also could be used for a building shell, which the Urban Renewal Authority could then lease to a grocery store or other business.

The county’s funds would come from its oil and gas mitigation fund.

Though the joint meeting of the BOCC and the trustees was generally upbeat, the evening was not without moments of skepticism, some of which came from Silt residents and some from Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky.

Jankovsky, a fiscal conservative, called the use of Urban Renewal Authority “a very liberal way of going about trying to do something.” He compared it to “taxation without representation, to some extent.”

He said a better approach would be for the town to make it easier for development applications to “go through the [land use review] system quickly.”

That philosophy is at the core of the approach the county has taken to economic development, recasting parts of the county’s comprehensive land use plan and the county codes to streamline the review process.

“I’m not in favor of an Urban Renewal Authority, per se. I cannot support giving money to an Urban Renewal Authority,” Jankovsky concluded.

County Commissioner John Martin said the money is going to the town, not directly to the authority.

Commissioner Mike Samson noted that the county has given economic development grants from the oil and gas mitigation fund to other towns.

This has included $2.5 million to help with construction of a new I-70 interchange at Parachute, $1 million pledged to Carbondale to help with an affordable housing project, $2 million or so to Glenwood Springs and about $1.5 million to Rifle.

As for the town’s intent to funnel some of the money through the authority, Samson commented, “They’re on their own.”

In the end, the BOCC unanimously approved a grant of $1 million to the town.

County attorney Andrew Gorgey, who also is acting county manager, said he will work with Silt town attorney Lee Leavenworth to write up a proposed IGA, which will be presented to both boards in the near future.

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