After months of work, the county planning department will present its draft regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated Summit County at the county commissioners' regular meeting on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The regulations will seek to finally lay down some guidelines for the short-term lodging industry, which may pave the way for rental regulations in towns and counties. The regulations are expected to set occupancy and parking limits, create a permit system for short-term rentals, third-party complaint monitoring and an administrative system for permit withdrawal, among other new rules.
The meeting will take place at the Day Lodge at Frisco Adventure Park, 621 Recreation Way in Frisco, as the county courthouse is being used for early voting. Members of the public with more questions about the meeting or the agenda may contact the county at 970-453-3535.
For those sitting at the edge of the seat waiting to hear the juicy details of Summit County's 2019 budget projections, this one's for you. For everyone else, bear with us, there's important stuff worth knowing about here.
Summit County manager Scott Vargo and finance director Marty Ferris sat down to explain the projected budget for the next year as county services continue to expand as the population grows. At the moment, the county budget is projected to increase to $108,974,208 in 2019 from the 2018 budget of $95,709,036 — an increase of a little over $13 million.
The 2018 budget was used as the base for the 2019 budget. Vargo said that the county continues to use conservative estimates when it comes to projected increases in sales tax (2 percent projected increase), fee (1 percent) and property tax (1.4 percent) revenues. All county departments have been directed to maintain 2018 expense levels, within reason.
Big-ticket construction projects make up a significant share of the increase. The county's Solid Waste Fund will receive a little over $6 million, with $4 million going toward paying for a new below ground landfill "cell," or specially-engineered pit into which garbage is stored, and the rest going to new heavy equipment.
Modern landfill cells are surprisingly complex. A lot of engineering and planning is invested to make sure the waste is properly stored and won't seep into groundwater or otherwise pollute the environment outside of the Summit County Resource Allocation Park.
$1.25 million of the enterprise fund will be spent on replacing screens on several inlets on the Snake River sewer. The transit capital fund will also receive a little over $5 million to construct the new Frisco Transfer Center, as well as to complete the purchase of six new cutaway buses, with 80 percent of the bus funds coming from grants.
Operating expenses will see an increase of nearly $200,000. Vargo said that increase is related to increases in cost-of-living expenses for county employees, as well as increases in costs to fuel, utilities and maintenance.
The county retains over $25 million in "unrestricted" funds in reserve from last year. When asked about why that money can't be used to fund county services instead of asking voters to approve a 10-year property tax hike with Initiative 1A, Vargo said it is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
"We believe it's appropriate and necessary to have a reserve for emergencies," Vargo said. "We want to have a reserve based on general standards in accounting industry, which is a minimum of three months worth of operating funds and $5 million identified for some sort of natural disaster. In our case, that disaster would likely be wildfire."
As far as continuing to conservatively estimate the increase in sales tax revenue despite seeing revenues exceed projections the past few years, Vargo said that the county's finance people don't feel comfortable with the better-than-expected increases to be an indefinite trend and continue to be conservative when it comes to expected revenue.
Looking forward, Vargo said the county is concerned about the looming changes to property tax assessment ratios because of the Gallagher amendment, which requires a certain ratio for residential and commercial property tax collection rates. That assessment ratio for residential properties dropped to 7.2 percent from 7.96 during the last two-year cycle. The state estimates that the ratio will drop again to 6.11 percent in 2020.
"We will lose out on $14.5 million between 2016 and 2020 because of Gallagher," Vargo said. "We're preparing for that."
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will open for the 2018-19 ski and snowboard season on Friday, the first ski area in the country to open seven days a week for this winter season.
The Black Mountain Express lift will start turning at 9 a.m., giving skiers and snowboarders access to the intermediate "High Noon" trail from A-Basin's front side, mid-mountain to its front side base area seven days a week. A-Basin mountain operations will continue to make snow as weather permits in the coming days and weeks, with the goal of opening additional terrain.
"With nearly two feet of natural snow combined with the low temperatures for snowmaking, we've been able to create a quality base for Friday's opening," Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We're excited to get the ski season started."
Arapahoe Basin is often one of the first ski areas to open in North America, including last year when A-Basin's Oct. 13 open was the first in the nation. This year, A-Basin lost that title to Wolf Creek Ski Area, who opened on Saturday in southern Colorado, though Wolf Creek's opening is currently for weekends only.
Via a post on his blog on Monday morning, A-Basin's COO Henceroth wrote the ski area had "a lot of snow everywhere," and also explained how and why warmer temperatures this week may actually help the Basin's snowmaking efforts to come in the short term.
"Mother Nature has been kind that way," Henceroth continued. "Some of you have noticed that not all of the snow guns are running. We do have ideal temperatures. Unfortunately, with the cold temps, the streamflow has slowed down. This morning, as I am waiting for the sun to break the East Wall ridgeline, we have blue, blue skies. Sun and warmer temps will melt some of that South facing snow and bring the streamflow up. Even with our reservoir, the snowmaking capacity is really tied to that streamflow. Right now we have a hand full of snowguns making fabulous snow. I look forward to having two hand fulls of snowguns making fabulous snow."
A-Basin's current lift ticket window pricing, which runs through Dec. 21, runs $85 for a full-day ticket for adults between the ages of 19-69. Youth (15-18) full-day window tickets are priced at $70 and child (ages 6-14) window tickets are priced at $41. Children aged 5-and-under ski free every day of the season at A-Basin.
Loveland opens Saturday With their opening this Saturday at 8:30 a.m., Loveland Ski Area — just to the east of the Continental Divide from Summit County — will debut its newest lift, "Chet's Dream."
"Thanks to lots of hard work from our skilled snowmaking team and 2 feet of snow from Mother Nature, we are excited to announce that Loveland Ski Area will open with exceptional early season conditions this Saturday," Rob Goodell, Loveland's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We hope this early season snow is the start of a generous winter and invite everyone to join us on Saturday as we kick-off another long and powder packed season at Loveland."
Chet's Dream will run from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday and will offer skiers and riders access to one top-to-bottom run covered from tree-to-tree with an 18-inch base, the ski area said in its statement. The trails "Catwalk," "Mambo" and "Home Run" comprise this Opening Day run, which is over a mile in length and contains nearly 1,000 vertical feet.
"This year Opening Day is even more special as Chet's Dream, our new high-speed lift, will carry the first skiers and riders of its tenure here at Loveland," Goodell continued in his statement. "This new lift will provide our guests with quicker and more reliable access to some of our most popular terrain while honoring ski industry pioneer and Loveland patriarch, Chester R. (Chet) Upham, Jr."
Loveland Ski Area also opened on Oct. 20 last season. Loveland's snowmakers will continue to make snow on Home Run and around the base of Chet's Dream this week before moving on to opening additional terrain.
Lift operation hours at Loveland are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekends and designated holidays. Early season lift tickets at Loveland are $65 for adults and $31 for children 6-14.
Breckenridge Town Council has approved spending $8 million on a town-owned fiber optic network, making the town one of the first mountain resort communities to pursue such a project.
Local officials say the $8 million investment will help cover design and construction costs for a high-speed fiber optic network designed to meet the internet and connectivity needs of Breckenridge's homes and businesses well into the foreseeable future.
Whether it's sending audio, video or other data, fiber optic cables operate on light signals rather than the electronic impulses carried by traditional wire-based communications, allowing fiber optics to produce much higher transmission speeds and bandwidths than their copper-wire counterparts.
Town officials say the network will provide new opportunities, not just for high-speed internet service, but a host of other applications, as well. This could mean better cellular service and coverage, public Wi-Fi assets, real-time water metering and other "smart city" solutions to address common problems, like parking and transportation.
"We see this as a cornerstone investment for the town for the next 50 years and beyond," Breckenridge Councilman Gary Gallagher said. "Much like previous councils had the foresight to secure water rights and land bank for the future, this fiber backbone enables the town to be proactive towards future developments and ensure that we're in charge of our technological destiny."
Breckenridge aims to break ground in May and the first phase will include 17 miles of underground infrastructure. Basically, the town will start by creating a "backbone" for the fiber optic network with subsequent "spurs" reaching out to individual neighborhoods. Each new spur would bring more homes and businesses online as the town grows out the new network.
Construction of the first phase should be complete within two years, and the first provisional services are expected to come online for some customers in the third quarter of 2019, according to the town.
Which neighborhood will get plugged in first has not yet been decided, said assistant town manager Shannon Haynes, who expects it will be a "high-density" area like the Wellington neighborhood.
The first service provider or providers will be selected later this year or in early 2019, with residential and business sign-ups slated to begin once the provider or providers are in place.
The idea is to allow all different kinds of service providers to compete using the town's network, but getting to that point might take some time.
"The intent is to allow competition on the network, but we know the first person in the door will help us work out any bugs in the system, and we don't know how many folks we'll have interested right off the bat," Haynes said, adding that town staff hope to find three to four in the early stages.
Also, the fiber optic cables will have to run into each customer's home or business. For a connection to be run from the network's backbone to a home or business, the homeowner or business owner would need to sign up for the fiber optic service before they were wired in.
Oftentimes, these connections, called "drops," can cost consumers hundreds of dollars when done by private service providers, but the town is committed to shouldering that cost with its fiber optic network, Haynes said.
According to town staff, Breckenridge is one of the first resort communities in the mountains to pursue a project like this and joins other Colorado communities like Centennial, Longmont and Montrose in developing its own municipal-owned network.
Town staff put out a request for proposals regarding the town's efforts to build a fiber optic network in July 2017 and selected Foresite Group, a Georgia-based company, to complete an assessment and create a business plan to design and build the network.
During town council's Oct. 9 budget retreat, representatives of the Foresite Group presented their plan, and council approved $8 million for the design and construction of the network.
Additionally, Breckenridge hired consultant Tim Scott of Peak View Enterprises, who has worked with fiber infrastructure projects both in the U.S. and internationally, to provide guidance on the project.
Meanwhile, the town is moving forward on a couple different pieces at the same time, Haynes explained.
While Foresite Group is working on detailed network designs and engineering, town staff are putting together another request for proposals for construction contractors and a request for inquiries in search of service providers who might be interested in coming to Breckenridge.
Both of those should go out soon. The town is also working with a marketing group to help brand the new network, which will tie into fiber optic cables already running up Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge and down Interstate 70 to Denver.
The National Weather Service has put northeast and north central Colorado, including Summit County, under a hazardous weather outlook after an overnight storm blanketed the region.
Snowfall is expected to diminish this afternoon and evening with clearing skies tonight. Highs today are expected to be in the 20s.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has reported some problems on Interstate 70. Sometime before 9 a.m. today, a wrecked semi caused the closure of both eastbound lanes of Interstate 70. Other issues on I-70 were reported in the Georgetown area.
The coming days should bring mostly dry conditions, according to the NWS, as temperatures slowly begin to warm with readings pushing back to normal levels by the end of the week.
Lowest price for a 4 bedroom condo in the County! Open house today - 3 - 5 p.m.
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The receding shoreline of Lake Dillon uncovered an important part of Summit County's railroad history: the remains of the railroad facilities at Dickey, located at the southern end of the reservoir.
In the early 1880s, two railroads fought for the mining business of the county. The Denver, Rio Grande, under the leadership of William Jackson Palmer, entered the county from Leadville, traversed the Tenmile Canyon, passed through Frisco and headed to Dillon. The Denver, South Park & Pacific, with Sidney Dillon as president, crossed South Park to Como, climbed to Boreas Pass (11,481 feet), descended to Breckenridge by September 1882, and followed the Blue River north to Dillon, by December 1882. (Yes, the town of Dillon was named for Sidney Dillon.) At Dillon, the DSP&P intended to turn west toward Frisco and follow the Tenmile Creek through the canyon, eventually tapping the mines of Leadville.
Those designing the route revised the plans so that the main and branch lines would meet at a place about three miles south of Dillon and two miles east of Frisco called Placer Junction, but later renamed Dickey (9004 feet). By doing so, the railroad saved four miles of track and shortened the distance to Leadville. The main line returned to the original survey in the Tenmile Canyon.
Dickey became an important coal and water supply station for the engines. By stopping at Dickey for fuel and water, the trains could carry a maximum of goods/ore rather than carrying the coal and water needed to reach a distant fueling station. Dickey had a well and huge water tank with a 47,500-gallon capacity. The railroad constructed a depot, an engine house to repair engines and rolling stock, a section house where train maintenance crews lived, a tool house, a water pumping station and well house, several homes and cabins for railroad employees and their families, and a wye. The wye, used most often by helper engines, allowed trains to change directions. Those returning to Como or Leadville used the wye extensively.
The unique double-sided coal docks, built in 1902 at a cost of $4,397.82, replaced the older style docks that required shoveling the coal twice — from the gondola cars into the coal bins and again into the engine tender. With the newer-style coal docks, the men shoveled only once — from the gondola cars into the bins. The coal dropped by gravity into the tender.
The last scheduled train passed through Dicky in 1937, when the railroad discontinued service. A few remained living in Dickey until the mid-1960s when the water from the reservoir forced them to leave. Since then, the town of Dickey has been covered by water. But in 2003, in the midst of a drought, members of the Denver, South Park & Pacific Historical Society had the opportunity to explore the town site.
Members commented that they first saw few remainders of the town. Later, as they walked "the ground, the foundations of all the major structures began to emerge," wrote Bob Schoppe, long-time president of the DSP&P Historical Society. He continued: "We decided to visit the site a week later better prepared with maps and photos, and thus were able to document the locations of nearly every structure on the ICC map. The wye was very much in evidence, as were the foundations of the depot, engine house, water tank, pump house, well, section house, tool house and some of the surrounding cabins. Less in evidence were the coal bins and coal dock, but there were large amounts of coal fragments and residue right where they should be. One surprise was a wooden culvert on the main (line) to Frisco beyond the wye that was not only still in place but once again (temporarily) functioning! Since no one had been to Dickey since the '60s, metal was everywhere. (One member) found a journal box cover with the retaining chain still attached. While (the group) thoroughly enjoyed this first-time-in-45-years chance to visit Dickey, we didn't realize at the time just how special this window of opportunity was."
Two weeks later, water covered the site.
In October and November 2012, drought again exposed the Dickey site. Bill Fountain visited the site and found the same things as in 2003.
This year's dry summer has uncovered the site once more. When Fountain explored the site, he found things much as they had been in 2012. He and Rich Skovlin, an expert on the history of the county, brought photographs to compare "then" and "now." They found footprints of buildings, pieces of bottles, rail spikes and connectors, coal chunks and the cement foundation of the water tower.
To visit the Dickey town site, park in the lot at the southern end of Lake Dillon at Farmer's Korner. Do not follow the old roadbed but follow the trail to the right of the sign, through grass to the dry lake bed. At that location, you will see what those who, like Fountain, live in Hawaii call a "black sand beach." Of course, here it is tiny bits of coal that came from the locomotives' smoke stacks.
Do not remove any of the artifacts. Take photographs only. Leave the artifacts for others to see and enjoy.