Routt County commissioner candidates speak at Oak Creek Town Board meeting

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Election 2012

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Jim "Moose" Barrows

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Tim Corrigan

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Tina Kyprios

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Doug Monger

— All four candidates for the Routt County Board of Commissioners spoke at the Oak Creek Town Board meeting Thursday night.

Jim “Moose” Barrows, Tim Corrigan, Tina Kyprios and Doug Monger got a chance to introduce themselves to Town Board members and South Routt residents attending the meeting.

Extra chairs were brought into the modestly sized room in town offices to accommodate those who came to hear the candidates and those who were interested in seeing the town’s newest police officer, Ed Corriveau, be sworn in by Mayor Nikki Knoebel.

Barrows led off for the candidates and emphasized his connections to the ski industry in saying he would work to make sure the benefits of the ski area are spread out and that the interests of rural Routt County are accounted for.

Kyprios said she was running because the county needs a fresh perspective and vitality. She noted her experience as an accountant, auditor and as the owner of a location-neutral small business.

“The most important part of this job is to reach out and listen,” Kyprios said.

Incumbent Monger said the county has made a lot of headway in the 11 years he’s been on the board. One of the main jobs of the commissioners, he said, is trying to understand the delivery of services, even during the recent downturn and the one in 2001, during both of which he was on the board.

After giving a short rundown of his history in South Routt, Corrigan elected to go straight to questions.

The first question was asked by Town Board member Josh Voorhis to all of the candidates: What is your opinion on oil and gas development within a town’s watershed like that which is possible in Oak Creek with Quicksilver Resources owning leases in the area?

Barrows said it was sort of a moving question.

“Yes, we need to protect the watershed,” he said. “We also need to protect personal property rights.”

Barrows said some of the conditions the current commissioners have sought for well permitting are redundant with state conditions.

Corrigan said he supports all the conditions and the actions of the commissioners.

He said it looks like the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is heading in the same direction as Routt County.

“The good news, from my view, is that most of that argument has been settled,” Corrigan said. “We are close to having a template for that process. I think we need it. I think we can promote oil and gas development in a way that protects the health of Routt County.”

Kyprios said that she doesn’t know the specifics of where potential wells in Oak Creek’s watershed could be located but that she has researched fracking in general. She said, in her research, when groundwater contamination was reported, it was from conventional vertical drilling. She said the failure rate for casings is between 0.01 percent and 0.03 percent.

Monger defended the work of the commissioners. The failure rate doesn’t matter if it’s your watershed that’s affected, he said.

“I believe the best government is the one closest to you,” Monger said, adding that duplicated conditions of approval were intentional to have a mechanism to enforce what the state may not.

In other Town Board action:

■ The Town Board approved a revocable permit for former Town Board member Dawn Smith's half-finished fence that encroaches on a town right of way. Trustees Chuck Wisecup and Josh Voorhis voted against the permit, citing the long struggle against encroachments onto town property.

■ The supplemental budget with additional funds for police was passed unanimously.

■ Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen presented the 2013 draft budget. Page-Allen said the town has received a petition from Scott Wedel and Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman to limit the management fees to be paid from the utility funds to the general fund in the draft budget to measurable expenses only or to send the matter before voters. The estimated cost of a special election is $3,000.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Well, if Town Board is going to consistently ignore concerns that they are proposing taking more from utilities than they receive from property and sales taxes combined then at some point people are going to go above the Town Board's heads and ask the voters directly if they want to have a voice in how much is taken from the utilities. Colorado citizens have the right to approve taxes and when a town sets the utility rates and then takes as much as they please then it sure has all of the financial effects of a tax even if legally it is technically fees and not a tax.

Town Board could have agreed that voter input on taking so much money when Town Board will also raise the trash rates and soon enough the other utility rates sure looks, acts and behaves like a tax and so should be approved by voters and could have put it up for the November election. But they choose to ignore concerns and force a petition to allow voters to have a say.

Town of Oak Creek dislikes holding elections because the voters have a tendency to not vote as the Town government would like. Earlier this year the Town Board asked for a 1% sales tax increase for the police budget, but voters rejected it. So now Town Board would rather not let the voters have a say in taking $180,040 and the subsequent spending of their money.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Tina, I made the same mistake at first. Fracking is not the whole of the issue. Not by a long shot:

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2012/05/08/colorado-officials-issue-order-against-lone-pine-gas/ Colorado Officials Issue Order Against Lone Pine Gas (Walden, CO)

Lone Pine Gas also has come under scrutiny for oil spills dating back to 2006. Last December, a state oil and gas inspector detected an oil leak from Lone Pine Gas facilities extending for more than a mile along Spring Gulch Creek, which eventually flows into the North Fork of the North Platte River. The Colorado Department of Natural Resources says a cleanup has been under way for some time.

http://vernal.com/detail.html?sub_id=3058243 Asthma takes toll on Basin residents

Preliminary findings of the study indicate a strong link between the extraction industry and air quality citing specific two things: “volatile organic compounds and nitrogen” says Joseph Shaffer, TriCounty director

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2012/09/marcellus_shale_links_ny_recor.html NY records show history of oil, gas well problems

N.Y. (AP) — State regulators claim a strong record of oil and gas drilling oversight, but their own reports reveal thousands of unplugged abandoned wells and other industrial problems that could pose a threat to groundwater, wetlands, air quality and public safety.

"One of the biggest challenges facing the oil and gas regulatory program is the growing liability of idle and abandoned wells," Gregory Sovas, former director of the minerals division, wrote in the 1995 report. These wells pose a liability for local taxpayers, he said. "This is not a hypothetical worst-case scenario, but reflects current events already happening in the counties."

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 10 months ago

Well bore integrity is very important. Could you give out your source of the 1 in 10,000 chance of integrity issues?

Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Become Pollution Portals http://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/03/us/abandoned-oil-and-gas-wells-become-pollution-portals.html?src=pm The Federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are about 1.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells nationwide and that some 200,000 of them may not be properly plugged. In Texas alone, officials calculate there are 40,000 to 50,000 abandoned wells that could pose pollution problems.

http://gasdrillinginbalcombe.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/44-of-wells-leaking-at-australian-gas-field/ 44% of wells leaking at Australian gas field

The study, conducted in the Tara, Queensland field examined 56 of the field’s wells. 26 were found to have leaks. A Canadian study found more than 17600 oil and gas wells leaking nationwide. Watson and Bachu (Society of Petroleum Engineers SPE 106817 – 2009) surveyed 352,000 oil and gas wells and found 5% of wells had gas or oil outside the central borehole. In 2003 Gas Service Company Slumberger found 60% of offshore gas wells leaking within 30 years of being drilled. In 1992 the US EPA estimated that of 1.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the US, 200,000 were leaking, a 16.7% failure rate.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Even if you believe that the odds of a particular well will leak is quite low does not mean that it is unlikely that there will be leaking wells.

The chance that one particular well is leaking may be pretty low, but when you eventually have hundreds or thousands of wells then the chances accumulate and it starts becoming likely there will be leaky wells.

Garfield County with all of their drilling almost certainly has some leaking wells. Trouble for them with their lack of groundwater testing is no one knows which wells.

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max huppert 1 year, 10 months ago

I am with you on this Scott, I will sign it. I cant believe that Chuck and Josh would stand by this? Utility infrastructure is the most important issue for this town. And then want to make us pay more tax is just stupid. Why did the town waste money putting gravel down on grant street that is already all pulled up?

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 10 months ago

Max, Note that the petition merely requires voter approval of transferring utility money to the general fund unless it is reimbursing direct costs. Basic concept if it looks, acts and behaves like a tax then Town cannot use a loophole to bypass Colorado's Constitutional right of the public to approve of new taxes.

The great importance of requiring public approvals of taxes is that is the most direct way to hold government accountable. A messed up government is going to find a public unwilling to give them more revenues. A well run government can cite their record of public benefit and cite the benefits of improving this or that program. Such as Soroco school district has been able to get property tax increases passed.

There may be public support of taking some money from the utilities for police and such. The lack of public forums to receive public input and develop a public consensus means there is minimal public knowledge on what is the plan for embarking on such a major increase in revenues (more than property and sales tax combined) and how that should be spent.

Look at the fiasco that was the 1% sales tax for police that was roundly rejected by the voters this year. Somehow the Town Board put it on the ballot without a petition or even anyone advocating for it. No one campaigned for it. It lost badly. And so the Town Board's lesson from that is apparently to find revenues without taxpayer approval and to spend far more on police and other items.

Town has not held public forums seeking public input and describing their plans for any issue from road maintenance to policing. As a person that owns properties along Sharp Ave, I was pretty shocked to learn their plans for the street was to remove the asphalt to the curb since that part was needed to control erosion from rain runoff. I thought they were just going to remove the messed up asphalt in the middle of the street. So since then they replaced eroded road base three different times, experimented with hay to slow runoff and just this week installed asphalt along the east side. They wasted so much on that this year. And the asphalt across Oak St is supposed to replace reinforced concrete that failed after only 3 years??? That will fail soon enough, probably be unsuccessfully repaired a few times and then finally replaced with a culvert.

What bothers so many is the complete lack of accountability in Oak Creek government. Is there anyone saying this time the police dept will be managed better and not have turnover? Anyone taking responsibility that town will start reading water meters and start billing based upon usage by some date? Is there a schedule with milestones? If so, it has not been disclosed or publicly discussed.

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