Running out of options

by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- The elected officials of Huerfano County met Monday and discussed a proposed county-wide sales tax increase of 1½ cents to fund dispatch operations for emergency service providers.  Since emergency services are provided to people traveling through the area, as well as residents, those in attendance agreed that it makes sense for passers-through to help fund those services.  A sales tax may best achieve that.  “We’re running out of options,” said County Commissioner Scott King.  The sales tax increase would raise $360,000 annually, approximately the current cost being borne by the City of Walsenburg.  According to the dispatch department, the number of emergency calls has steadily increased each year.

    The County Commissioners are currently developing a proposal to the Emergency 911 Board to help fund improvements to the emergency services infrastructure, including radios, a computer-aided dispatch system, and tower and antenna improvements.  Grants have been secured for some of the improvements, and the proposed E911 funding could provide part of the match needed for those grants.

    John Galusha updated the group on progress made toward building the waste transfer station.  The engineer has finished a preliminary design, which will require minor revisions.  It is anticipated that construction will begin this fall.

    Carolyn Newman, Tourism Board, reported on the use of $37,800 in lodging tax receipts over the past sixteen months to promote area tourism.  Activities have included: ads in out-of-area newspapers, brochure racks in area businesses, a Huerfano County calendar, a tourism website, “cultural attraction” signs on I-25, new billboards, and radio ads. 

    Next meeting is 5:30 pm, July 21 at Walsenburg City Council Chamber.