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Grand County gets a piece of bailout bonanza

Tonya Bina
tbina@grandcountynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

In legislation grouped with the $700 billion investment bank bailout, U.S. government officials reauthorized a forest payment program that provides funding to counties with public lands.

Grand County is one of the beneficiaries, and upon finding this out Tuesday, Grand County Commissioner James Newberry said, “Ah, so Grand County is part of the pork!”

But Matt Lee-Ashley, spokesperson for Colorado U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar’s office, said that may be a misconception since the government bailout merged with legislation, such as tax incentives, that passed the U.S. Senate a month before.



Two under-funded programs, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, and the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, or SRS, were part of the package.

PILT and SRS provide federal finances to counties that host federal forest lands. For many counties, such as Grand County, the federal payments can be a significant part of annual budgets.



But the programs suffered severe cuts in recent years and their continuance was shaky at best, according to Lee-Ashley.

The recent bi-partisan federal action allows 43 Colorado counties and many in other states the ability “to receive full funding under PILT and much larger payments under SRS,” Lee-Ashley said.

From PILT, Grand County was already receiving $444,810 for its ’08 budget. Due to the recent bill, Grand County is promised an additional $270,319 in a “make-up” payment come January.

The recent federal legislation gives PILT a secure revenue stream until 2011. In future years, Grand County can expect about $715,000 annually until the bill expires.

SRS helps to fund rural schools and county road and bridge departments. The federal payments from both SRS and PILT help governments offset costs associated with having public lands in their jurisdictions, such as keeping up roads impacted by visitation to public lands and providing first responders to emergencies that take place in federal areas.

“For rural communities, it’s a very big deal,” Lee-Ashley said. “Particularly now when county budgets are really getting pinched, the federal government needs to keep up its side of the bargain.”

Preservation Board revived

The Grand County Historical Association is reviving what has been a dormant Grand County Preservation Board, established in 1996 to “provide for the designation of historic landmarks, historic buildings, historic sites and historic districts.” The board will be in place to review applications and qualify properties for local historic designation. Grand County commissioners officially activated the board Tuesday, amending its resolution to allow a seven-person board rather than a five-member board.

Recycling stays at landfill

Recycling will remain at the Grand County Landfill, at least through the winter. The decision came from Granby Mayor Jynnifer Pierro, who said paving and fencing the East Grand School District’s designated area for recycling could not be done this fall. Granby officials did not feel comfortable having recycling there without being able to close it off during off-hours. Another deterrent, Pierro said, was that the project cost came in around $47,000. “I’m putting a hold on the recycling center until I feel comfortable,” she said. Pierro hopes relocating the landfill recycling site can be accomplished by next spring.

Big Valley will remodel Pepsi building

Big Valley Construction of Granby was selected to renovate the former Pepsi warehouse in Kremmling, now the future west-end home of Grand County Emergency Medical Services, as well as offices for road and bridge, the coroner, search and rescue and sheriff. Big Valley’s bid of $554,796 was accepted as the lowest bid. The county paid $8,131 to Alan B. Carter Architect of Granby for the building’s renovation design. The county purchased the building last spring for $495,000.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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