by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO- Huerfano County’s elected officials met Monday to wrangle with funding for the emergency services dispatch center. There was consensus among the attendees that a 1½ cent sales tax increase would be the best way to spread the cost out among residents and tourists passing through the area. Though there were comments that any tax will be unpopular with voters, County Commissioner Scott King said, “The money’s got to come from somewhere.” Walsenburg Mayor Edi Sheldon put forth the idea of forming a special district, which would be funded by a mill levy. This would put the onus on landowners, with an approximate three mills required based on current assessed values to bring in about $365,000. La Veta Mayor Mickey Schmidt admitted, “That would be a tough sell.” He expressed his opinion that an attempt should be made to spread the expense to people who don’t live here. La Veta Fire District (LVFD) president Mark Brunner added, “People who drive through use the services.”
Brunner and Mayor Schmidt had some good news to report to the group. The 911 Board has voted to fund $5,000 toward the cost of a repeater on the mesa above La Veta. The LVFD will pay the balance from its operating budget. Huerfano County Fire Department Chief Gerald Jerant pointed out that another transmitter channel will be needed to reach the new repeater.
According to Mayor Schmidt, the 911 Board will also fund a contractor to analyze the current dispatch center and determine what hardware, software and training are needed. That analysis will take place August 4-5.