County Commissioner Donald Rosier spent the first part of his Valentine’s Day in an area of Jeffco he loves, talking about county finances, fire mitigation and other issues.
“I always love when I get to come up to Conifer or Evergreen,” he said. “The mountain community is truly great.”
Rosier stopped by the Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast at Brooks Place Tavern last Friday to give mountain business owners an update on all things Jeffco. The first-term Republican commissioner represents District 3, which includes Conifer and Evergreen; he is running for re-election in November.
Rosier started his talk by remembering Jeffco Deputy David Baldwin, who was killed on his motorcycle last month after being hit by an alleged wrong-way driver.
“He loved his community,” Rosier said. “I just ask, as we’re all out there driving on the roads: Be safe. Be aware. Be careful.”
Rosier talked about the financial challenges that Jeffco faces these days.
“I don’t try to hide anything,” Rosier said. “Things haven’t been good. Property values have gone down, which has resulted in less revenue for the county. We’ve seen a rise in demand for food and housing assistance.”
The Jeffco commissioners voted 2-1 in December to approve the county’s 2014 budget, which included a 1.5-mill increase in the property-tax levy. Rosier voted against the county’s $350 million spending plan.
“I was the dissenting vote,” he said. “We’ve been doing the best we can during the recession, but looking at the numbers concerns me greatly.”
Rosier predicted that, if Jeffco continues its current spending pattern, the county will face a shortfall by 2018.
“One item affecting our budget is health care reform,” he said. “We are unable to carry the same number of temporary employees as we have in the past. These people work for Open Space, Human Services and the Sheriff’s Office. The county is now required to give those employees benefits, which we just can’t afford.”
“There is no doubt our forests are changing,” Rosier said, adding that beetle infestations are a significant factor in the wildfires in Colorado in recent years.
“Slash collection sites will be back this summer,” he said.
Jeffco is in the middle of figuring out where to place a slash burner to help residents with wildfire mitigation. A grant to purchase the “air curtain” burner has been approved, but a location has not yet been agreed upon.
“We have some proposals out, and, right now, we’re looking for a public-private land agreement,” Rosier said.
Although Jefferson County didn’t suffer as much harm as Larimer and Boulder counties during last September’s flooding, there was significant damage in Evergreen and Coal Creek Canyon.
“We worked with the state and federal government to get back our quality of life,” Rosier said. “There’s a lot of red tape, and it’s been difficult. What’s covered by the state? What’s covered by FEMA? What’s the responsibility of the resident?”
Rosier then shifted the conversation to a greener topic.
“Marijuana is a big issue, but it’s a bit hazy right now,” he said.
The county commissioners enacted a moratorium on recreational and medicinal sales of marijuana in unincorporated parts of Jeffco. The commissioners have until February 2015 to make a decision on the controversial plant’s future in the county.
The next Conifer chamber breakfast meeting will be at 7:15 a.m. March 14 at Brooks Place Tavern in Aspen Park. For more information, visit www.goconifer.com.
Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 or Daniel@evergreenco.com. Check HighTimberTimes.com for updates and breaking news. Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.