Town of Rico
December 2002 Newsletter

Happy Holidays!

Rico Town Staff
Town Manager: Ashton Harrison
Town Clerk: Linda Yellowman
Water Supervisor: Chris Kramer
Municipal Court Judge: Scott Erickson (not shown)

Town Attorney: Eric Heil
Maintenance Supervisor: Dennis Swank
Town Marshal: Tom Halper
Town Prosecutor: Jon Kelly (not shown)

2002/2003 Accomplishments and Planned Projects

The Town achieved many goals it set out to accomplish in 2002. The following is a highlight of Town accomplishments in 2002 and planned projects for 2003:

· A full-time manager position was created to manage the increasing day-to-day operations of the Town government after a voter approved tax increase in 2001.

· The Town hired a part-time Town Marshal in response to citizen concerns about vehicle speeding and public safety. Tom Halper is the Town Marshal.

· The Town established a municipal court in order to prosecute traffic violations and enforce local ordinances. Scott Erickson is the Municipal Court Judge. Jon Kelly is the Town Prosecutor. Linda Yellowman is the Municipal Court Clerk.

· The Town was awarded a grant from the Colorado Historical Society to begin exterior restoration of the Rico Courthouse. This is the first phase of a multi-year project to restore the entire Courthouse, including the interior and foundation. The Town hired Klinke & Lew, a well-respected construction firm specializing in historic restoration projects, to begin work in 2003. RM Bell & Associates is the architectural firm for the project.

· The Town submitted a grant application to the Colorado Historical Society to help restore the Rico Mercantile Building with the goal of assisting the owner in reopening a grocery/mercantile store in Rico. The Town expects to receive news on the grant award in early 2003.

· The Town submitted a grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado to build a park playground for the children of Rico. The Town expects to receive news on the grant award in January 2003. The volunteer efforts of Barb Turrin have been a great asset to the Town regarding this project.

· The Rico School Reorganization Committee approved final revisions to a plan for the Rico area to change from the Dolores County School District to the Telluride School District at a meeting held at the Telluride High School on September 11th. The Final Reorganization Plan will be voted on at a special election on January 14th, 2003. Committee chairperson Barb Turrin, a Rico resident and parent, led the Committee through a number of outstanding issues that needed to be addressed in order to finalize the plan.

The Colorado Department of Education required the detaching area in Rico to physically connect to the Telluride School District area. The legal description of the detachment area was amended to include sections following the 12 mile stretch of Highway 145 north of Rico to Lizard Head pass and the San Miguel County line. Other additions to the legal description include hillside areas adjacent to Rico that were added to include potential development areas recently proposed by Rico Renaissance.

A list of other concerns were addressed by the Reorganization Committee. Dolores County School District representatives expressed concern about a reversionary clause for the Rico elementary school building property and adjoining playground. Under the terms of the Reorganization Plan the school building and playground would transfer to the Telluride School District but would “revert back to the Dolores County School District if the property is not used primarily for educational or school related purposes.” Obligations by the Telluride School District to maintain the building were also desired by the Dolores County School District representatives. The Committee felt a reversionary clause with maintenance obligations could be worked out to the satisfaction of both school district boards prior to the election. The Rico School Reorganization Plan proposes that the school building and playground be transferred at no cost to the Telluride School District, but that the teacherage house and trailer on 4 lots, as well as 3 other vacant lots by the maintenance barn, would be sold to the Town of Rico at fair market value determined by an appraiser.

The issue of completing improvements and installing insulated windows in the Rico elementary building raised some pointed discussions. Dolores County School District representatives were opposed to language that required remaining improvements to be completed prior to the election. Husky stated that the Dolores County School Board did not want to put more money into the school when it did not know when the school would open or who would own the school. Telluride School District Superintendent Mary Rubadeau felt that the Committee had agreed last spring that the Rico elementary school would be transferred in a condition that met state building codes for schools. Davis stated that installing insulated windows was roughly estimated to cost $70,000.00. Keith Lindauer, a Rico resident, parent and member of the petition committee, reminded the Dolores County School District representatives that the Dolores County High School Bond was proposed with a specific allocation to the Rico elementary school of up to $300,000.00 in expenditures and that Rico was obligated on the High School bond repayments.

Approximately $175,000.00 has been spent in improvements to the Rico elementary school building in the last year. Remaining improvements include installing R38 insulation in the ceiling, installing insulated windows, installing window coverings, and completing door trim. The Plan was amended to require the remaining improvements to be completed within one year after the election.

The Final Reorganization Plan has been referred to a special election scheduled on January 14th, 2003. The Reorganization Committee appointed Earlene White, the Dolores County Clerk, as the designated election official for the special election. Copies of the Final Reorganization Plan are available at the Rico Town Hall.

The Reorganization Plan must be approved by the voters in both the Dolores County School District and the Telluride School District in order to take effect. The Rico petition committee members will schedule informational meetings before the election to answer any questions about the Reorganization Plan. The Rico petition committee consists of Barb Turrin, Jen Taylor, Keith Lindauer, Jerry Akey, and Dave Allen. The Town conducted a survey of Rico voters in Spring of 2000 which demonstrated strong support for changing school districts. The Town passed Resolution 2000-2 Support of Rico Changing School Districts in July of 2000. The Rico Petition Committee submitted a petition to formally initiate the process to change school districts in December, 2000. A Reorganization Committee was formed by statute which includes representatives from both school districts and the Rico petition committee. The Reorganization Committee has worked on the plan of Reorganization for 18 months and has conducted numerous public meetings in Rico, Dove Creek and Telluride.

The pro-bono (i.e no-cost or free) legal service provided by Nicole Pieterse in assisting Eric Heil, Town Attorney, has been a great asset to the Town regarding this project.

· The Town sponsored the successful “Not-So-Alternative” Home Tour conducted by Donovan and Kjersten Spitzman.

· To help control growth and protect scenic corridors and open space, the counties of San Juan, Ouray, San Miguel, Montezuma, and the Town of Rico have joined together in partnership under the philosophy “strength in numbers.” Together, these partners have successfully obtained a $95,000.00 grant to develop a conservation plan. The Town of Rico is the lead agency in the San Juan Skyway Heritage Initiative.

The project consists of preparing spatial analysis mapping for selected segments of private lands along the Skyway corridor that have been identified by the participating partners as having high conservation values (scenic, natural, historic, recreational) and have the potential of being developed. Land conservation values that will be mapped include scenic view sheds and ridgelines, wildlife habitat, proximity to roads, trails and streams, and potential soil erosion areas that may affect water quality. Upon completion of this mapping and analysis, the lands with the highest resource values and potential for development will be identified by each participating local government and strategies developed to protect those being of highest priority.

The San Juan Skyway Heritage Initiative is a vital first step in preserving open space in and near the vicinity of the Town of Rico. Once the Town and the other regional participants have a good plan in place, they will have the ability to lobby the State, Congress, and private land trust foundations for protection funding.

· The Town has submitted applications with the federal government to obtain approximately $3.3 million to construct a centralized sewer system. The Town Board recognizes that the proposed sewer system is a controversial issue and will conduct public hearings in 2003 regarding the sewer issue once federal funding decisions are made.

· The Town Maintenance Supervisor, Dennis Swank, and the Rico Fire Protection District worked hard to successfully lower the Town’s ISO (homeowner insurance) rating.

· The Rico Planning Commission is expecting to have a finalized revision of the Rico Land Use Code completed by February 2003.

· The Town issued seven building permits during 2002. The number of building permits is expected to increase in 2003.

· The Town has been considering organizing a volunteer effort to erect street signs in 2003.

· The Town is considering organizing a volunteer effort to erect an entrance sign on the north end of Town limits similar to the sign located at the south end of Town.

· The Town is planning to begin another business incubator project in 2003 due to the success of its current incubator project: Bluecorn Beeswax.

· The Town is planning to prepare a Rico Municipal Code to update, codify, and streamline old ordinaces.

· The Town will be pursuing funding for parks and open space in 2003.

· The Town has five different budget funds: General, Street, Water Enterprise, Sewer, and P.O.S.T (Parks, Open Space, and Trails.) The Town managed to stay well within budget in 2002. Four of the five funds are healthy. However, significant problems remain with the Street Fund despite significant cutbacks such as turning of street lights and eliminating the community dumpster program. Compounding the current problems with the Street Fund is a decline in the assessed valuation of the Town, which translates into less taxes for the Street Fund in 2003. The Town is working hard to resolve the problems with the Street Fund.

Please remember to vote on January 14th, 2003!

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