Teller County Leaders Face a Tough Road Ahead in 2018

Election, growth and taxes top the agenda

~ by Trevor Phipps ~

All local governments deal with the fact that a new year brings about change and tough issues to tackle.

The Teller County Commissioners are no different, and recently they highlighted some hot items on their plate for 2018.

 The number one issue facing the county is the forthcoming election, slated for November. This year there are a number of elected officials that will be forced out of their positions due to term limits. This means that officials will undoubtedly have to deal with new elected leaders holding key positions.

 This year the county will lose their incumbent assessor, treasurer, coroner and county commissioner for district 2. The current officeholders for these positions must step down. This means that the county will have a variety of new elected leaders holding some high level positions. Anytime government positions change hands there are a number of challenges that could arise, especially for the commissioners.

 The positions of clerk/recorder and sheriff are up for election also, but most expect that current officeholders Krystal Brown and Jason Mikesell will keep their jobs. During the first commissioner’s meeting in January, Brown announced that she would be running for re-election as clerk/recorder. Mikesell was appointed as the new sheriff by the county commissioners last May, following the resignation of Mike Ensminger. Mikesell has already announced that he will run in the county’s 2018 election for the head law enforcement job.


Changes In Taxes

According to Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker, the way property taxes get calculated is changing every year. The percentage of a property’s value that the county can tax on gets set by the state. The ratio is different for commercial and residential property. The ratios change based on how many more businesses are coming into the state compared to residents.

Recently, the trend locally has been slowly forcing the residential tax ratio up.

 This change in ratio affects how all properties get valuated in Teller County. When the residential tax ratio goes up, there are a number of steps the county must take. The change requires extra work to re-calculate taxing amounts and changes to the county budget. All of these changes for the county will take place this year, putting the work load onto the county’s new assessor.


Building Expansion and Population Hikes

 According to Decker, one upcoming issue facing the county is the new expansion project in Divide Teller officials have planned for some time. In 2018, the county plans on breaking ground on a project at the sheriff’s office in Divide. The sheriff’s office will be going through an extensive remodeling and expansion project starting sometime this year.

 A number of records from 2017 also indicate that Teller County is growing in population. Last year the county had a drastic raise in the number of voters registered. Decker said that these numbers are a direct indication that more people are moving into the county. According to the county administrator, the number of building permits issued in 2017 also saw a jump. This statistic demonstrates that more people are moving into the area and building on property inside the county.

 Another number that spiked in 2017 involved the number of cars the county registers. Decker explained that this could mean one of two possible trends. First, that again more people are moving into the county. The rise in vehicle registrations could also be due to the fact that the economy is improving and residents now have more disposable income than before.

 When asked how the increase in people and cars on the road would affect the county’s operations, Decker said that the changes would have little immediate effect. However, more people does mean more cars on the road.

But according to Decker, the increase in road traffic would not cause an immediate change in staff or in county operations. However, more cars means more wear and tear on the public road system. As a result, the county will have to deal with more repair projects to local roads in the near future.


Possible Changes In State Laws

According to county commissioner Norm Steen, the Colorado legislature currently has a large number of bills in the works, some of which could impact Teller County. Steen announced recently that at least two new bills would change the way the county operates. One bill that is up for debate would increase the amount of tax money the state government is allowed to use for the state’s public road systems. This change would allocate more money to the county to use to improve roads.

Another bill that is awaiting approval in the state Senate would bring better internet services to rural communities. If passed, the bill would use tax money to help bring enhance high-speed, broadband internet capabilities to rural communities, such as Teller County.


Lawsuit Pending


The county also must deal with a lingering lawsuit, announced at a recent meeting.