"He's eating the budget again."

Commissioner Mike Sampson was not present during the Monday, Oct. 9 regular Garfield County commissioners board meeting. 

Budget Officer Fred Jarman and Finance Director Jamaica Watts presented the staff’s proposed budget for 2024. Jarman mentioned that the county’s 2023 revenue included the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, “and that resulted in a smaller reduction to the overall fund balance for this year. In other words, the 2023 revenues were artificially propped up by the ARPA dollars that we had. It didn’t reflect the realistic revenue baseline, which is what we are now currently recognizing because those ARPA dollars are gone.” 

For 2024, increased property values and, in turn, increased property taxes should help make up some of the gap. However, should Proposition HH pass, that anticipated property tax revenue would decrease and the Dec. 4 deadline for the board to adopt the budget may need to be extended.

As it stands, the proposed budget projects $132.3 million in revenue and $136.9 million in expenditures for 2024. The $4.6 million difference would come out of the 2024 reserves. 

The initial public hearing regarding the operating budget was Tuesday morning, Oct. 10. The next operating budget public hearing will be all day on Oct. 17. The afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 25, the board will discuss capital expenses and discretionary funds. Each of these meetings is open to the public.  

Library board candidate
The president of the Garfield County Public Library District (GCPLD) Board of Trustees, Adrian Rippy-Sheehy, appeared alongside Hana Arauza, who was recently selected to join the library board, serving Rifle. The library board approved her appointment, but the county commissioners have a say, albeit not binding. 

Arauza has two young children, who she said were largely the  inspiration to apply to the board. She worked for 10 years as a geologist, then transitioned to nonprofit work. 

Arauza was the sole applicant, when the vacancy was advertised as “open until filled.” The library board received her application on Sept. 5, and on Sept. 27, she was selected during a special meeting. 

After Arauza’s introduction, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said, “I’m going to cut right through the chase. There’s a lot of controversy right now on our libraries and a lot of it has to do with access to books. Can you just explain your position on that?” 

Arauza replied that she is familiar with the issue and has attended several library board meetings in the past year. She added that she is looking forward to GCPLD’s Freedom to Read forum, scheduled at the Ute Theater in Rifle on Oct. 18 at 6pm, and to hear peoples’ perspectives on both sides of the issue. 

Jankovsky pressed Arauza for her personal stance on the issue. 

“My personal opinion is that I wouldn’t change any situation in the library at the moment. I can watch my own kids. I feel that they are safe and comfortable in the libraries, and I’m comfortable with maintaining the status quo,” she replied. 

“So, you think that children should have access to pornography in the library?” Jankovky countered. 

“I don’t think that that is the case,” responded Arauza. “I think that parents should watch their children while they’re in the library.” 

“Do you think that children should have the ability to check out pornography?” Jankovsky reiterated. 

“Again, I think parents should be aware of what their children are checking out. If they are giving their children access to a library card, they should also have access to the account so they can monitor it … I think this is a matter of parents’ responsibility.” Arauza added that she takes her kids to the Rifle library where they typically remain in the children’s section and don’t really venture away from it. “It’s my responsibility to see what they’re exposed to,” she concluded. 

Jankovsky stated that he would like to wait until Commissioner Mike Sampson is present to continue with the appointment procedure. The commissioners continued the action item to Monday, Oct. 16 for a final decision. 

Colorado Extreme rink
The commissioners approved a Substantial Modification to a Limited Impact Land Use Change Permit for the Colorado Extreme Hockey property (2001 CR 100), with conditions. In 2022, Colorado Extreme received approval for one temporary outdoor ice hockey rink. The recent approval is for a second smaller rink and summer training area, increased parking, modified ditch irrigation and an enhanced (paved) entrance at the current entry point. 

Colorado Extreme provides free youth hockey programming. 

Visit www.garfield-county.com/board-commissioners/meetings to view the meeting in its entirety.