Routt County tackles repairs, paving on busy road to Stagecoach State Park in 2014 budget

Advertisement

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners are optimistic enough about the county’s fiscal position this year to plan a two-year, $1.5 million paving and repair project on a decaying stretch of Routt County Road 14 used heavily by commuters between Stagecoach and Steamboat Springs.

If you go

What: Routt County budget hearing

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

The county’s proposed 2014 budget includes the first $750,000 of the project, which will be used to repair failed stretches of C.R. 14 and fresh asphalt on the portions of the road between Colorado Highway 131 and the top of Yellowjacket Pass.

“We’re talking about asphalt and getting rid of areas where there are structural defects in that road, which was never engineered. It used to be a dirt road,” county Finance Director Dan Strnad said. “The big picture is, we’re going to try to do something to make that road better, which is a big deal.”

The Board of Commissioners will discuss next year’s proposed $71.1 million budget during a public meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Routt County Courthouse. Revenue is projected to be $60.9 million, and the county expects to reduce its reserves by almost $10 million.

At first glance, this year’s proposed budget has increased dramatically from the 2013 budget that called for $48.8 million in expenditures. But the numbers are sure to be cut significantly by the time the commissioners are prepared to adopt the budget Dec. 10. That’s because both revenue and expenses are being reduced by the announcement this month that a federally funded $15.1 million runway paving project at Yampa Valley Regional Airport has been pushed back to 2015, Strnad said.

Expenses will be revised downward to $58.5 million, and revenue will be scaled back to $49.4 million when the delayed runway project is taken into account.

The county won’t be paying for the runway project when it’s built, but the grants and their disbursal have to be reflected in the county budget, Strnad added.

The other big initiative in the 2014 budget is restoring employee pay increases, including a 2 percent cost of living increase for all employees and a return to the county’s stepped salary increases, which will result in raises for some. The budget impact of the compensation package is $888,000, Strnad said.

The raises are being funded by a projected increase in sales taxes and the county’s ability to drop the premiums it charges itself in its partially self-insured health plan.

Strnad said the county has seen several good years on the claims side of its health insurance plan and took advantage to build reserves in the fund. Now, the commissioners feel they can find room in the budget by dialing back contributions to health insurance reserves.

Other news on the county’s revenue side for 2014 is that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights will allow for an increase in base property tax revenue of $456,000, about 3.4 percent, Strnad said. The county also is projecting a healthy increase in revenue from its 1 percent sales tax, which is expected be up by 6 percent, or $311,000, based on 2013 collections.

The increase in the county’s property tax revenue next year does not signal a significant increase in property taxes, Strnad said. Overall, residential property owners could see a tax increase of about 0.8 percent, Strnad said. That increase will be offset by a drop in tax collections for three voter-approved mill levies that raise funds for people with developmental disabilities, history museums in the county and the purchase of development rights. Revenue from the three mill levies will be down about $363,000 collectively because they are funded by flat mill levies that rise and fall with assessed valuations.

The county’s valuation for taxes has declined 31 percent since 2010, but county government has been buffered by the fact it spent less than it was allowed under TABOR in previous years and used those “credits” to raise mill levies modestly during the recession.

Now, the county is optimistic that property valuations could be reversing course in a positive direction.

County Assessor Gary Peterson has been tracking changing property values, Strnad said, and there’s optimism that when new valuations are set in 2015, they will have gone up.

“We’re seeing an upward trend of real estate values out there, and that’s a good thing,” Strnad concluded.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

2014 Routt County proposed budget

Routt County 2014 Proposed Budget Document

Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club

Yampa Valley VIP

Comments

john bailey 9 months ago

thank you , thank you , and my visitors will thank you. and NO FASTER money involved. hey , Dan , how bout that.~;0).........I can hula all the way to town . HA wait , is this the big fix? or just cosmetic......hum.....

0

Dan Kuechenmeister 9 months ago

this news deserves 2 cheers with the third held in abeyance until they finish. Sounds like it is more cosmetic but any thing that helps your hulaing is good by me.

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

How does this CR 14 repairs fit in with the land purchases to make a wider and safer road? Is that project dead?

0

Dan Kuechenmeister 9 months ago

Agree with Scott. Would be awesome if they widened road and filled shoulder drop offs. Gets pretty sketchy when the snow is falling and a car is approaching.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

Scott , it better not be dead or they are lying like some one we all know.....PERIOD!!

0

doug monger 9 months ago

Scott, John, and Dan, the project is neither dead nor does the county have the finances to move forward with the reconstruction. The county does own the right of way and the engineering to move forward with the project if some monies sometime become available either in grants or out of the annual budget (project estimated at $13 million +). The county could not continue to wait on grants that do not exist, and probably will not exist in the near future. We could not let the road further deteriorate we need to do what now looks like we should have been doing for eight yeas and that is to do maintenance, resurface culvert repair. We are keeping in our hip pocket the anticipation of doing the total reconstruction potentially in phases. We have directed staff to continue the thought of some construction especially in the most unsafe sections of the road while we put the road back into the maintenance part of our asphalt road system and at least not let the road get any worse. The road continues to be a high priority for the county's road system, but I'll remind all that the voters have told the county twice that it wasn't important enough to raise taxes for the reconstruction. Based on the direction of the voters we will continue to work on the reconstruction through existing revenue streams. Doug Monger Routt County Commissioner

1

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

CC Doug,

Thank you for your answer which has many details not mentioned in the article.

Maybe the county should put up signs at north 14 and 131 and at Stagecoach Reservoir north saying vehicles over 36 feet and trailers not advised. And one at intersection of 14 and 131 south saying such vehicles should use 131 to go north of Stagecoach Reservoir.

A long trailer taking those turns along 14 often cannot avoid entering the other lane.

1

Dan Kuechenmeister 9 months ago

Doug, Thanks for the info. Not the best news but good to get honest feedback.

0

Martha D Young 9 months ago

CR 14 is terrifying to drive in the summer and even more fun to ride on a bike. I can't imagine wondering where the edge of the road is in a winter white out. Thanks for the info and encouragement, Doug.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

thanks Doug, um when was this up for a vote? I seem to draw a blank on any vote. if the county bought the land I presume that meant the first step to redoing the road and you were waiting for funds to accumulate to finish what was started. I sense it was a high priority at one point , as a bedroom community for the big city , but now that people have bailed due to the down turn we are left with a substandard road when all others have state highways as their routes oh and a nice 129. yes I understand about the grants .~:0) if you could please do at least one thing. provide a wider shoulder , at the very least . there is no room for error in a lot of places and a guard rail on the south bend on the twisties. thanks again for your response .now to steel myself for the drive in to work.........HA

0

Pat West 9 months ago

I also wonder when we voted on this. Asking voters about a tax, and putting it on a ballot are not the same. As a cyclist, and driver of this road I would support a one time tax increase to accrue funds to fix this road. Sunset the tax once the road is paid in full, and let's fix this before someone is killed on this busy dangerous county road. I belive most of Steamboats cycling public would support a tax to fix this road.

0

doug monger 9 months ago

The first election question was in 1997 or 1998, it was a question specific to CR 14 and the reconstruction of that road. In my memory it failed two to one. Understand that the folks in much of the rest of the county were not interested in funding the re-construction of CR 14, many of the folks in STBT, North Routt, and West Routt, and many in South Routt were not interested in funding the reconstruction of that road that maybe they did not have personal benefit.

The second election was in 2007, where the county fronted a ballot question to work on many different roads in the county so that there was potentially more overall support for the question. It was more of a county question to address surfacing of roads, shoulders, safety and citizen service on a multitude of county roads county wide. It also failed by somewhere in a two to one vote. Probably in retrospect, the county question had part of the tax increase sunset and part of the tax increase not sunset, it was quite clear in my mind the non-sunset portion of the increase was not supported. The additional mill was 12.66, that might have been more than the voters could tolerate. Add on to that this was in 2007 when things were going ok, and ready to go into the recession starting in 2008. Doug Monger

1

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

Doug,

I would suggest that in 2007 that the voters said the county's roads are in acceptable condition and that county should work on CR 14 as part of its normal road and bridges budget.

If after several years that proves impossible with CR 14 taking too long to get fixed and too many other roads are also suffering then the need for more money for roads will have been proven.

I think the public is highly suspicious of government officials anywhere saying their budgets are insufficient. The public has too often seen government officials able change priorities and ultimately accomplish what they first said needed additional money.

I also thank you for responding to questions.

0

Jim Kelley 9 months ago

Doug,

Thanks for responding here. It's very refreshing to get information on this issue directly from an elected official with your years of insight and knowledge.... There definitely seems to be a history of quiet objection to changing this road and this "secret" objection must have carried some influence, at least until now. As a longtime resident of Stagecoach, it has amazed me through the years that the poor drainage, smashed culverts, lack of pit run and road base, etc. etc. could go so long without any resources designated to CR14. It's nice to know that the county has finally acknowledge this situation as a priority. Why is it not possible to incrementally make the necessary upgrades within the current budget and reserves?
This road not only serves the residents along the CR14 and at Stagecoach/Lynx but also is an option for the residents and visitors traveling from South Routt to Steamboat. It is also used by recreationalist including road and mountain bikers, boaters and fisherman traveling to Stagecoach and the tailwaters, and hunters traveling to Blacktail and Lynx Pass. In the absence of grants or designated tax, the full plan for upgrade and reroute should be covered by the county. It will be money well spent!
Thanks for your time Doug!

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

CR 14 has been an acknowledged issue for at least 15 years. There has been a reluctance to repave a road that they have been hoping to properly rebuild soon.

The problem has been that it is such a big project. The current path and right of way is much of the problem. A proper roadway needs a path that slices across many different private properties. In 08 or 09, in order to qualify for hoped for grants, the county started the arduous process of buying the needed slices of properties. The county didn't get the hoped for grants, but did decide to continue on with the purchases. I think the county now owns the properties it needs for a right of way containing a properly engineered roadway.

A major challenge in properly repairing the road in sections is that the properly rebuilt roadway is going to be located to one side or another and above or below the existing roadway. So it is not easy to rebuild in sections because then they would have to also have to engineer transition sections between the old and new road.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

we all waited patiently for the rebuild of 131 south of town to the big drop. I will wait again for the rebuild of rcr 14. granted we have less of a choice for getting around it but , hey, its all worth it in the end. my friends would like to not hit the ditch giving way to the plow drivers as they have much nicer vehicles then my battered ol work truck.........but then they're from the big xitty all they know is to drive fast......HULAAAAA ~;0)

0

rhys jones 9 months ago

John -- Just give your windshield plenty of time to clear off; Lord knows we wouldn't want you rolling over any post-era hippies on bicycles.

Of course fast is the only way to drive. Repeated studies have shown that your chances of accident rise proportionately with the time you're driving. So the faster you drive, the less time you're out there. It's that simple. I've got better things to do with my time, than roll down some stupid road.

I'm fishing now; let's see what I snag.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

crap , you went FISHING ? nuts , I had to work , and such a nice day too......wadya get?

0

Pat West 9 months ago

Doug, thanks for the response. Maybe it's time to put up a tax increase that solely addresses RCR14, and nothing else. Determine the cost of fixing this road right, and work to educate the citizens of Routt of the need, and then sunset the tax once the bonds for construction are paid off. 2007 was a long time ago, and waiting on this road to be fixed should not wait any longer. We don't need a tragedy to push us to fix this road, and it could be argued that the county may be liaiable for damages and injury caused by not fixing a road we all know to be substandard.

Does anyone know how much property taxes would need to be raised, and for how long to pay off a proper remake of this road?

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

In 2010, the county applied for a $14.5M grant.

The county needs to budget for this over several years and make cuts elsewhere. It doesn't really count to have a budget except for a very big essential item.

Then a temporary tax would not be for a road, but to reinstate all of the other county services.

Not paying for an essential item and then saying taxes needs to be raised is wisely viewed with skepticism by the public. That assumes that all other government spending is essential which is simply not credible. The public has seen government too many times ask for "essential" additional revenues and then able to come up with a publicly acceptable budget after the voters rejected the tax increases. The government needs to say this is the best budget that covers the essentials and if the public wants additional services then taxes must be increased.

0

Pat West 9 months ago

Scott, when my home budget is tight, and then an unexpected expense occurs, I don't cut services by not paying the water bill, I borrow the money I need to cover the expense and work to repay the loan. I would rather fix all the problems on this road rather than incur construction for 2 years and still not have the road that we need. I would suggest bonding to get the funds available now, and a tax increase to pay off the bond, and nothing else.

I really feel the increased development in the Stagecoach area, and the improvements to Stagecoach State park have led to the overuse of 14, and think something is wrong with our current tax system if development is allowed that does not cover the expenses that the increased population causes.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

but, Pat the south rcr14 to the park is in wonderful shape, hum why not the north ? they both go to the park , STATE PARK that is....maybe we could get the state to....... never mind.....

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

CR 14 is an expected expense. It was identified 15 years ago as needing to be rebuilt. It would be like having a worn out leaky roof and not including fixing it in your household budget because it is such a big item that it forces cuts elsewhere.

Maybe you cannot afford to replace it in this year's budget and are stuck with temporary repairs. But you have to start saving for a new roof so you can replace it next year or the year after. If the county had been saving money to rebuild CR 14 since 1998 when the first tax measure failed then it would easily have had enough money by now.

0

Pat West 9 months ago

Or, if you have good credit, borrow the money, fix the roof, get a second job, and pay off the loan. Once the loan is paid, quit the job and enjoy the roof for years to come.

Not everyone has the budget discipline to save, and many are debt adverse, but unless you know of specific, large, expenses that the county is wasting its resources on, I would suggest their budget is tight, and spent wisely to maintain our current level of services, and that a bond/tax would get this road fixed now.

0

John Weibel 9 months ago

Pat,

The county reduced the taxes it collected because it could as opposed to putting it into a reserve fund to pay for needed and foreseen repairs. It then went back and asked for a tax increase to fix roads all the while taking in less tax revenues than the state would allow.

One could probably go down all line items in the budget and determine wether the county is getting a value for that expense or if the private sector could do a better job. I would guess that savings could be made, if the government did analyze every function and determine wether they are worth while or not.

When it takes a year for the airport restaurant to put up a face book page, because of the red tape, my guess is that many rules exist simply to justify peoples jobs.

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

County has proposed increasing taxes twice for CR 14 and the voters rejected it overwhelmingly both times.

Government legally has to have reserves and tracks things like equipment age to know when replacements will be required. They can certainly budget to save money over a few years to then have enough cash to correct CR 14.

I think the voters are far more likely to approve a tax increase if it is to restore cut budgets. CR 14 has incorrectly been handled for the most part of 15 years as an option that can continue to be put off.

0

Pat West 9 months ago

I agree the county should have done more to establish funding to fix this road, but they didn't, and it need to be fixed.

Since you know it all, Please tell us how to fix the road, or is your position that the residents of Stagecoach should wait 15 more years for a safe road?

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

Pat,

I don't see much evidence that the residents of Stagecoach are that upset by CR 14. I don't see letters to the county commissioners or representatives of Stagecoach homeowner's associations at county board meetings insisting that the road be fixed.

I think rebuilding CR 14 could easily be split into 3 parts. One would be redoing the two sharp 90 degree turns near hwy 131. I am pretty sure the county has acquired additional right of way there in order to have less severe turns. The second part is the mostly straight narrow often windswept in the winter section. The third part would be the north side of Yellow Jacket pass.

I think if the people of Stagecoach could meet with the county commissioners and tell them which part is most urgent and see how quickly it could be rebuilt. Put some pressure on the county to fix CR 14 before a tragic crash. It is all too common that a dangerous section of road is allowed to remain the same until there is a tragic crash and then it gets fixed.

0

john bailey 9 months ago

theres nothing wrong with the path , its the width of the road that's the problem. they bought the land , now its time to work toward completing the deal...... simple as that.....the accident will more than likely come with a bike vs vehicle as the knuckles heads like to ride side by side on the twisties or hang out at the highest elevation of the road....

0

Jim Kelley 8 months, 4 weeks ago

John, There is everything wrong with the path but it's not the location of the path, but what's under it. ----The straight-away near the top and the sections just before and after have no proper drainage, culverts, or adequate pit-run and road base underneath the "pavement". The result is the most impressive displays of heaving and pot holes in Routt County! (whole cars have disappeared here!) Sometimes the spring time run has no drain path to go but all over the road. . Once these basic road requirements are met, then the road can be widened and then you'll have to find another reason to hate bikers.

0

john bailey 8 months, 4 weeks ago

correct, Jim, we all agree with the condition of whats under the road, that's a no brainer. I figure there are 3 spots that are bad for drainage, just south of Masons Lake (RIP Niels) , down the road at mile marker 7 which was a nightmare 2 years ago and a partial click from that but they redid the culvert. any more? this road is a feeder for not just Stagecoach but for Thorpe Moutain, RCR14 a/b, Blacktail and such , why raise taxes ? this a purely a county issue and the county pays for it from all tax payers. this is not a Stagecoach problem , we have enough of that xit already , what with our sewer system aging and south siders wanting their roads fixedor actually installing a road, that's our issue and they are trying to squeeze more money out of us, well good luck with that, I gots no mo money to give , done , nada zip....~;0) stop asking..... oh as far as the bikers only the knuckle heads , why even put up the signs if they don't care, and god forbid what I see in the big xitty......nuts , nuts I tell ya.

0

Scott Wedel 9 months ago

The proposed path near 131 is modified to have two sweeping turns instead of a pair of hard 90s.

The proposed path over Yellow Jacket is modified to presumably be the easiest path to have a wider road. It is not always possible to simply widen a road on a hilly turn since then the inside shoulder becomes nearly vertical. So the new path will straighten the turns by modifying the entry and exit. With all the excavation work of cut and fill then they will also make it a steady grade.

0

john bailey 8 months, 4 weeks ago

bullxit Scott , this road is easy to fix, I'm sure you 've been around this county and this road is a piece of cake, i'm sure Moose would love to have relief from the traffic flow, in the mean time wash your freeking hair oh great OZ....~;0) so about those boxing gloves , ya ready to give it a go with Maynard? Jerry, so true , just slow down , that's why ya moved here , right?

0

jerry carlton 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Road to Stagecoach sucks. I drove a propane truck to Stagecoach more than once and never put it in the ditch. Ever hear of slowing down? Bend over and grab your ankles, time for a new special tax!

0

John Weibel 8 months, 4 weeks ago

If property values have declined by 31%, the county decided to not take in the allowed amount of tax revenue and asked for a tax increase to fix roads in 2007 then they failed to simply use allowed revenue streams to fix the roads, without asking for a tax hike.

0

Scott Wedel 8 months, 4 weeks ago

I think county was prevented by Tabor from increasing revenues as much as property values increased so they had to temporarily lower their mill levy.

0

John Weibel 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Voters suspended Tabor in November of 2005 for 5 years. That allowed increase in tax collections probably could have paid for the road repairs.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.