County-/-City Discuss Areas of Common Concerns

Lamar Mayor and Mayor Pro-tem, Kirk Crespin and Anne-Marie Crampton met recently with the Prowers County Commissioners to discuss some elements of mutual concern; the on-going 3 Mile Intergovernmental Agreement, shared costs to maintain Prowers Area Transit Service and the application of building permits.

Historically, county customers receiving city services pay a rate double to what residents pay within the City of Lamar limits.  Having a resident decide to have their property annexed into the city limits would reduce those fees, explained Crespin, adding that in some instances where a property owner is so close to the border, why not opt for the inclusion.  While some county residents don’t want to be subject to City of Lamar property taxes, they would like the amenities such as police, fire and ambulance response as well as a reduction of water and trash collection fees.

Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade suggested an information flyer be developed, “This would give the property owners a cost analysis or fee breakdown comparing what they would be paying as city residents compared to the reduction of their utilities once they’ve been annexed.

Crespin offered that the council could consider a shorter distance within the 3-mile range for annexation and opening the door for a contiguous boundary to the city limits.  “But if the property is already that close to us, it would seem to make sense to go for the annexation.  Our current residents are already sharing the cost of the utilities, but we can’t lower them just because someone is close to the border, but not a part of the city, itself.”  He said the council can discuss some options.  In matters of electric service, Anne-Marie Crampton said the choices are either with the Lamar Light Plant or SECPA.

The sharing of costs for PATS, Prowers Area Transit Service, is another area of long-term discussion between the city and the county.  While the majority or riders are Lamar based, the operation is through Prowers County.  The number of riders has dropped over the past year, due, principally to COVID-19.  The city pays the county $12,500 a year while the county maintains the balance of the operation, a portion of which is grant funded.  Crespin suggested the city take over the operation and administer the grant funding, but it was unknown if the state would approve the switch and the county isn’t ready to relinquish that as yet and according to commissioner chairman, Tom Grasmick, the county has a grant to finance construction of a bus barn to house the PATS vehicles.  Now that the federal infrastructure bill passed through congress, more funding is being earmarked for rural road improvements and it’s not known at this time how much Colorado or rural areas may receive.

Both parties discussed building permit fees.  At present, the county, which is entitled to a portion, has not been receiving its percentage.  Mayor Crespin said he will bring that up with the city building inspector to make sure the fees are being charged and suggested the application form be altered to include a check box for the Use Tax.

Although the November General Ballot approved the local sales of recreational and medical marijuana in the Lamar city limits, the legitimacy of the petition process placing the question before the voters has been brought into doubt.  While registered city residents could vote on the question as well as setting a sales tax limit, the county is prepared to address the question on a county sales tax.  That, however, will be contingent on the legal rulings of the petitions.

Commissioner Buxton-Andrade noted the legalized sales will have an eventual impact on how the county handles what may be increased costs to operate the jail if more arrests develop with widespread sales.  “Some other communities have reported an increase in arrest warrants and in cases of child abuse,” she cautioned, adding that some towns were shortsighted on what would happen in their communities once the sales of pot were legalized.  Mayor Crespin said that was a main reason why the Lamar City Council is going to take a conservative approach to the entire matter.  “If this petition challenge is successful, we can reasonably expect it to be forwarded in the next election cycle, but this will give the city and the county more time to gauge the impact to the community and this will give the county time to consider how it wants to place a county tax on sales.  The city presented a sliding scale of from 5% to 15% so we wouldn’t have to approach the residents on future votes under TABOR regulations and the county should consider a similar approach.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyElectionsFeaturedLaw EnforcementPublic SafetyTransportationYouth


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