Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Aurelia Pollard
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Commissioners donate to Children's Park and road paving

 

September 1, 2016

Photo by Aurelia Pollard Boulder County Commissioners approved a grant of $10,000 to the Niwot Children’s Park at their business meeting on Thursday, August 25.

On Thursday, August 25, the Boulder County Commissioners held a business meeting to discuss various requests and proposals, including a grant request for the Niwot Children’s Park and a ballot measure for the paving of subdivision roads in Boulder County.

Ramona Faireneau, from Boulder County’s budget office, presented the request to Boulder County Commissioners Elise Jones, Cindy Domenico and Deb Gardner. She explained that the park’s organizers are asking for financial support from the county.

“Most of the funds necessary for developing the park came from Great Outdoors Colorado and private contributions,” Faireneau said of the park. “Boulder County has been asked to help with the project, and Parks [and Open Space] is requesting $10,000 out of the [unappropriated] general fund balance.”

Not much more explanation was needed to convince the commissioners to approve the grant request, and they all expressed how nice it was to visit the park in downtown Niwot. The commissioners took a personal tour of the park, which is owned by Boulder County and developed by the Niwot Cultural Arts Association, a few weeks ago.

“We’d love to be able to help close the gap, and be a part of a funding resource [with] Great Outdoors Colorado and other folks who contributed,” Domenico said. “It’s going to be an amazing park when it’s all complete.”

Gardner agreed with Domenico by adding, “It’s going to be a great amenity to the town, particularly given its proximity next to the railroad events and the music. It’s a great addition to downtown.”

Jones credited the volunteers and donors for the impressive park and said she was proud to be able to contribute to the park’s remaining fundraising needs.

“During our visit to the park, which was quite impressive, and it’s going to be a really great place to go, just the collaboration and the volunteers and the donations that you’ve all been able to galvanize to date is really impressive,” Jones said. “We’re just adding a little bit on the top to take it across the finish line, but it’s really been a labor of love on the part of the community.

All three commissioners voted unanimously to donate $10,000 to the Niwot Children’s Park, bringing the park’s total fundraising efforts to $498,969, toward its $500,000 goal.

The commissioners also considered a request from Boulder County Fairness in Road Maintenance (FIRM) to put a measure on the November general election ballot. The measure would require the county to create a supplemental fund specifically for fixing roads and bridges in Boulder County.

“It would pay for the rehabilitation of paved local access subdivision roads for 15 years,” Michelle Krezek of the Boulder County Commissioners Office said. “It would transfer $5.5 million annually into this supplemental growth fund without any raising of taxes.”

Krezek explained that counties are required to use their road and bridge fund to pay all expenditures for road and bridge purposes, making this measure not legally possible.

“There’s no real legal mechanism to make this transfer happen,” Krezek explained. “You can’t transfer money from existing sources within the county budget for road and bridge purposes, as required by this measure.”

She also made it clear that there isn’t additional county cash on hand or in the bank that hasn’t already been appropriated to another use. Every year county commissioners decide how to allocate monies to various funds, with the exception of the general fund that is unallocated.

“By law, the annual Boulder County budget requires that every county dollar of revenue be allocated to some appropriation,” Krezek said.

“What this proposal would require is that every year you find $5.5 million to take from another purpose that’s already been allocated in the general fund, and move it into this supplemental fund,” she added.

Krezek said that because the measure would require the commissioners to take illegal actions every year, “staff is recommending you do not put it on the ballot.”

The request also brought into question whether the county commissioners can take a legislative action that would bind future boards of commissioners to their decisions.

“There is Colorado case law out there that suggests that it’s improper and illegal for an existing sitting board of commissioners to take legislative action that would bind the future legislative discretion of future commissioners, which is what this proposed measure purports to do,” Liz Cross from the Boulder County Attorney’s Office explained.

She added that even though the voters would be approving the measure, “that doesn’t fix the illegal nature of the transfers annually as proposed in this measure,” and the commissioners agreed.

“This [measure] is very clear in that it wouldn’t be legal for it to go forward, Gardner said. “I think it’s really a question of timing, but there’s also the public policy piece of it and whether it’s good policy or not.”

Both Domenico and Jones agreed with Gardner, and none of the commissioners were inclined to move the measure forward to the ballot.

“I don’t see how we can hold a public hearing with the intent to put something on the ballot if it’s not legal,” Jones said. “I also agree from a public policy standpoint, and how we move forward with trying to address the resolution of subdivision paving issues, this is not the appropriate solution.”

 

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