CREEDE— The Mineral County Commissioners handled money, land and tax issues during their board meeting on Monday, Feb. 4
Lot consolidations and land issues took up much of the initial discussion, each resolution passing with approval.
Next, the board talked about this year’s Rural Philanthropy Days (RPD) event this fall. During the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association Board meeting in Alamosa on Jan. 28, SLV county commissioners learned more about this year’s gathering. Held in Creede four years ago, Rural Philanthropy Days will take place in Del Norte from Sept. 17–19. RPD rotates to the San Luis Valley every four years. Commissioner Ramona Weber said the 2015 event was very positive for Creede. Since then, RPD dollars directed to the Valley four years ago was $1.5 million, rising to $3.2 million in 2016 and $3.7 million in 2017.
During Monday’s meeting Weber described this year’s program and the collective support from the six Valley counties (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Saguache, Rio Grande and Mineral). Counties can commit to contribute different levels of sponsorship. Following discussion, the board approved spending $500 to become a bronze sponsor.
For Mineral County, the closing balances toward the end of 2018 required shifting funds for road and bridge projects and other expenditures. The board passed multiple supplemental budget resolutions to restore account balances. The gravel crusher purchase, for example, materialized after the initial budget was approved. Shifting reserve funds also covered other unanticipated (or underestimated) expenses.
In addition, the board approved a tax levee transfer of approximately $4,000 to the City of Creede, the only municipality in Mineral County.
County Administrator Janelle Kukuk distributed year-end financials to commissioners, cautiously noting that numbers are unaudited and uncorrected. The biggest change included moving the courthouse project out of the general fund and into a new capital improvements fund.
Up next, Erin Minks, from Senator Michael Bennet’s office, addressed a wide range of topics. A senior advisor on Colorado rural policy, Minks is also the San Luis Valley regional representative. She touched on rural infrastructure and child tax credit legislation, but the biggest topic was the next census.
Minks and Administrator Kukuk concurred that the Mineral County was under-counted in 2010. Research throughout Colorado reveals that many rural counties were not fully measured, and when the per-capita count is short, counties lose out on funds.
Minks described the “Complete Count Committee,” a group of county representatives organized statewide with the goal of helping ensure an accurate count. Kukuk serves on the Complete Count Committee. Reasons for missing the census vary. Some remote residents decide not to travel to participate, and others might consider the process invasive.
Part-time residents also complicate the calculation. If a person resides more than six months a year in Creede, for example, the census count adds to Mineral County. But absentee property owners who only get a chance to visit less than half the year are recorded in their home counties instead. Some people transition over time, visiting during their two weeks of annual vacation when they’re young and increasing days to full-time residency for retirement.
Among other purposes, the census determines the distribution of state and federal dollars. Under-counting Mineral County citizens undercuts Mineral County funding. When estimates range from $2,000 to $3,000 per person, missing 10 people adds up to losing $20,000 or more.