Written by Alissa Johnson
Wednesday, 05 December 2012
Consider the conflict
Crested Butte resident Sandy Shea appeared before the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, December 4 to bring up what he sees as a potential conflict of interest on the Gunnison County Planning Commission.
Commission member Warren Wilcox received several contributions from individuals tied to oil and gas company SG Interests during his campaign for county commissioner. Yet he regularly considers the company’s applications when they come before the Planning Commission.
“This is not a personal issue, but I do think there is a serious perception in the community of a conflict of interest, and not because a community member holds specific views but because he has accepted money from a company about which he is now making repeated decisions,” Shea said.
Crested Butte resident and director of the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition Anthony Poponi agreed. He wondered, “Does this go beyond political leanings toward something that can be construed or perceived as that member losing his objectivity? I have a hard time thinking the company contributed with the intent of him voting a certain way, but I think it warrants further discussion.”
That discussion didn’t happen at the December 4 meeting, however, as unscheduled citizens are limited to five minutes and it was someone else’s turn.
The commissioners awarded contracts for service this week, the funding process that replaced what was once a grant application process. They awarded $61,500 to local organizations, primarily awarding the same amount as last year to each organization, with one exception.
Because the county did not receive an application from the Crested Butte Bartender’s Association, the commissioners awarded the $2,500 previously set aside for the association to the Animal Welfare League. Last year, according to Commissioner Hap Channell, they “got a small percentage of what they asked for.”
Commissioners support Pro Challenge bid
The commissioners signed a letter in support of the city of Gunnison’s bid for a stage of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge bike race, with one important addition to the letter’s wording—the adjective “enthusiastically.”
Putting beetle kill timber to use
Butch Clark gave the commissioners some suggestions for using beetle kill timber, citing facilities near Vail and Aspen that are using the timber to produce biochar and generate heat. While beetle kill has yet to reach Gunnison County with any significance, Clark saw potential opportunities to generate heat and electricity locally in the event of disasters.
Crested Butte South Trail
The Crested Butte South Property Owners Association has directed its parks and maintenance superintendent Dom Eymere to take steps toward establishing a trail from Crested Butte South to Crested Butte. The goal is to build a trail that parallels the highway and links the subdivision to the existing recreation path in Skyland.
Rough estimates place the cost of the entire project at $108 million, but a Safe Route to Schools grant for $248,000 could make it possible to complete the northern part of the project, which would include resurfacing some of the existing trail near Skyland.
With the blessing of the commissioners, assistant county manager Marlene Crosby has agreed to help formally submit the grant application, which CB South cannot submit alone. Eymere will continue to do the legwork of gaining support and funding for the trail.
2013 Budget on deck
The Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing on Tuesday, December 4 regarding the 2013 budget. The proposed budget includes total appropriations of $73,554,148 and keeps the mill levy at last year’s rate of 11.328. That represents a $120,000 reduction in property tax revenues. The commissioners are expected to formally adopt the budget on December 14.