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Larimer County Board of County Commissioners 12/5/23

by Nanci Wendland


For more information (including links for the agenda and packet) see the full notes document here.*

A video recording of this meeting is available here.


Members Present:

Commissioners: Kristin Stephens, District II; Jody Shadduck-McNally, District III, Chair; John Kefalas, District I, Chair Pro Tem.


Members Absent: None


Others Present to Note: BoCC Admin Team: Tessa Beaty, Clerk; Lorenda Volker, County Manager; Tom Clayton from the Commissioner’s Office; Sarah Martin, Administrative Clerk.


From the Board of Commissioners website: “Larimer's three-member Board of County Commissioners is the main policy-making body in the County and works to represent the interest of the citizens of Larimer County at local, state, and national levels. Commissioners are elected at large from one of three geographic districts for four-year staggered terms. In Larimer County, Commissioners are limited to serving three four-year terms.”


Mission Larimer County government upholds and advances the community’s health, safety, well-being, and quality of life.


Summary

Tina Harris, Larimer County Clerk and Recorder, gave her assessment of her first election experience with the commissioners. The election is considered a success with no major incidents.


Lori Hodges, Director of the Office of Emergency Management, was recognized for receiving the 2023 Ranger Brendan Unitt Community Service Award. This is an annual public service award for employees of Larimer County demonstrating exceptional community service and volunteerism.


Public Comment - none


Consent Agenda Voting

District III Chair Shadduck-McNally read 38 items from the Consent Agenda. The commissioners voted and approved all items. (file:///C:/Users/nanci/Downloads/AgendaPacket-Admin%20Matters%20CONSENT%20AGENDA-December%205,%202023%209.00%20AM-1.pdf):

  1. Tax Abatements: 6

  2. Agreements: 3 – Amend Fiber Use License Agreement; sharing city and county information before the Colorado Energy and Carbon Commission; amend Loveland Pulse Fiber Lease Agreement.

  3. Appointments: 13 city and county board and advisory committee appointments (see agenda for details).

  4. Letter of Support: Capital project fund grant

  5. Liquor Licenses: 2

  6. Miscellaneous: 11 items – tax values 2023.

  7. Resolutions: 3


Commissioner’s question Clerk and Recorder Harris on election detail.


Tina Harris, Larimer County Clerk and Recorder reviewed her first election as Clerk and Recorder. The election was considered a success with a greater-than-expected voter turnout of about 48%. Of the approximately 126,000 total ballots sent out, approximately 39% were returned, which was greater than expected. Other voters used drop boxes and some visited voting centers.


Board Comments and Questions:

Commissioner Stephens asked if the voting centers were used successfully. Harris replied that it takes 12-14 voter judges to run a voting center. Larimer County currently has 6 voting centers. One center located at the Drake Fort Collins Police station became so busy on election day that it required the assistance of police for traffic control.


Most voters in Larimer County prefer to vote by mail and/or use drop boxes. In preparation for the Nov. 2024 presidential election, the county is working on adding additional drop boxes. The county is also looking for an additional 800 volunteer voter judges to work at voting centers in Nov. 2024. The Clerk and Recorder is expecting at least 90,000 ballots during the Nov. 2024 election.


Commissioner Kefalas wanted to know if the voting judges are ever recognized and acknowledged for their work during elections? Can the commissioners help by sending a letter to them after the election? Harris said she does provide food on election day and periodically gets everyone together for ice cream socials. Harris will start hosting events to recruit for 2024 elections.


Kefalas also asked if lessons were learned. Harris said, oh yes, lessons were learned, and her team has a meeting scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 9 to review everything. She said there were some bottlenecks in ballot removal and the county was a little late in reporting the initial votes. She’s put measures in place to better organize the next election.


Kefalas wondered how often ballot boxes were emptied, especially remote boxes such as the one at Red Feather Lakes. Harris said there is a ballot transfer team who remove ballots every 72 hours around the county up to the weekend before the election. Saturday and Sunday before the election the team empties the boxes every 24 hours. Monday and Tuesday they continuously check.


Kefalas’ final question was about bilingual ballots. When will the state start providing ballots in Spanish? Harris said Clerk and Recorders are waiting for the Secretary of State to make a final decision due by Jan. 5, 2024.

Commissioner and Chair Shadduck-McNally congratulated Harris for her professional, well-done election. Shadduck-McNally shared that Tina drives to every voter center on election day and when she arrived at the CSU campus voting center, students and staff were confused on the center’s location. Harris immediately made and posted extra signage on the first floor to direct voters upstairs to the correct room.


Lori Hodges, Director of Office of Emergency Management was recognized and awarded the 2023 Ranger Brendan Unitt Community Service Award.


From larimer.gov: The Ranger Unitt Award is a public service annual award starting in 2021 that honors the commitment to community that embodies the spirit of Ranger Brendan Unitt. On Aug. 20, 2020, Brendan Unitt lost his life while rescuing distressed swimmers during a sudden severe storm on Horsetooth Reservoir. The Ranger Unitt Award is open to any current Larimer County employee who demonstrates their passion to serve the community above anything else. The employee’s passion is exhibited through selfless acts of exceptional community service displayed through quality community or County interactions or initiatives.


As Director of Emergency Management, Hodges handled county responses to Covid-19, the Cameron Peak fire, and countless other emergencies. In Dec. of 2022, Lori provided housing, meals and arranged a Christmas Eve service for migrants brought to Larimer County. Lori is involved with national advisory groups, state legislators, and emergency management policies. In her spare time, Lori volunteers for Matthews House and joined the Fort Collins board for the Homeless - all while studying for her PhD. Lori says, “If there’s a disaster, I’ll be there to help.”


The commissioners reported on their activities over the past week.

At 10:22 a.m. the regular meeting was adjourned, and the Commissioners went into Executive Session. County employees and members of the public were asked to leave the room.

Legal Matters

No decision expected.


From the Agenda:

Executive Session pursuant to C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(b) Conferences with an attorney for the purpose of receiving legal advice about the status of the Centerra South urban renewal plan and related tax increment sharing agreement between Larimer County and the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority.


Next Meeting: Dec. 12, 2023 @ 9 a.m. Hearing Room, 1st Floor, 200 W. Oak St., Fort Collins


*Citizen Observers further the commitment of the League of Women Voters to its principle of Citizens Right to Know, however, we are not acting as journalists. Omissions and errors are possible. It is assumed that users of this information are responsible for their own fact-checking. This could include contacting a government clerk, conversing with an elected official or staff, and/or asking us to speak to the Observer who attended.

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