The Routt County Commissioners have two upcoming public, unscripted meetings scheduled to discuss local issues with county residents.
Hayden: 6 p.m. Monday in Hayden Town Hall, 178 W. Jefferson Ave.
North Routt: 6 p.m. May 20 at North Routt Fire Station No. 2, on Routt County Road 129 near Steamboat Lake and Hahn's Peak Village
Oak Creek Road repairs and rising transportation costs dominated the conversation between South Routt County residents and county commissioners at a public meeting Tuesday in Oak Creek Town Hall.
Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the Colorado Department of Transportation likely will resume widening and repair work on Colorado Highway 131 this summer, while county officials are entering initial planning and contract stages for a widening and realignment of Routt County Road 14, a two-year project scheduled to begin in 2009.
The two roads are conduits from Steamboat Springs into South Routt - home to the growing Stagecoach community - and are seeing a steadily increasing amount of traffic.
Roy Rozell warned that as CDOT begins its work this summer, use of C.R. 14 will spike even more.
"When you start (Colo.) 131 up, (C.R.) 14 is going to get hammered," Rozell said. "And 14 is a wreck - has been for a long time."
But Sullivan said the cost to repair C.R. 14 has spiked dramatically since November 2007, when a proposed property tax that would have raised $3.3 million annually for road improvements and county projects failed by a 2-to-1 margin at polls countywide.
"Instead of $8.5 million, we're looking at $13 million," Sullivan said.
The November ballot measure was largely criticized for its lack of a sunset provision.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger added that county road costs including asphalt, chip sealing, fuel, dust retardant and motor pool expenses will total about $800,000 more than budget by year's end - meaning new road projects are unlikely.
"We're struggling to figure out how we're going to take care of the apples we have in the cart right now," Monger said, adding that there likely will be "some belt-tightening down the road."
"There's no sense building new stuff if you can't take care of the old," Oak Creek resident Ken Burgess said.
The public meeting included dialogue about possible solutions to transportation funding woes. Oak Creek resident Luke Rummell suggested a user tax for county residents. Oak Creek Town Board member Dave Fisher suggested thinking outside the box.
"How are we going to find the creative answers to finance a lack of funds in the road budget?" Fisher said.
Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush cited the Citizens' Road Committee, formed after the failure of the ballot measure to seek new road solutions. That committee is beginning the process of prioritizing county road projects and could look to another revised ballot issue, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
Mitsch Bush said citizens can learn more about transportation issues of all kinds at the upcoming Economic Summit hosted by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association May 21 and 22. The summit will feature a variety of panels and CDOT Executive Director Russell George.
Stahoviak said Tuesday's public meeting, which brought more than 20 people and also addressed this year's elections along with local litter and law enforcement concerns, was a positive event.
"It's really good to see new citizens in our communities come out and ask questions," she said.