Cripple Creek, Teller officials lobby legislators to mitigate gaming bill’s economic impacts | Pikes Peak Courier

Colorado Senate Bill 22-216, “Reallocation of Limited Gaming Revenues,” is making its way the state General Assembly as the 2022 session is nearing its end.

Cripple Creek Finance Director Paul Harris reported at the May 4 City Council meeting this bill, as it was originally written, would have deprived Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Central City, along with Teller and Gilpin counties, of about $1.3 million in gaming revenues.

The bill seeks to increase funding for the State Historic Preservation Society and Colorado community colleges by modifying “the manner in which limited gaming tax revenues are allocated between the limited gaming fund and the extended limited gaming fund.”

Harris said representatives from the three gaming communities and the two counties, including all three Teller County commissioners, the Colorado Municipal League and other organizations went to Denver to testify against the bill.

After hearing that the bill was written with input only from those organizations that would benefit from the reallocation of funds, legislators agreed to revise the bill as follows:

“Section 4 provides supplemental payments in total of $1.25 million to the local government limited gaming recipients and creates a working group to determine if there is data available to identify the extended limited gaming tax revenues and, if such data is available, to collect the data and compare it with the current allocation required by law. The working group is required to prepare a written report of its findings and submit the report to the joint budget committee no later than Nov. 1, 2022.”

“It seemed like an uphill battle,” Harris said. “The task force will look at (revenue) distribution with all the stakeholders at the table, not just historical preservation and community colleges.”

City Administrator Frank Salvato recognized Bob Chevalier for 10 years of service to the city in building and grounds maintenance.

“We’re working to make childcare and the care center happen,” Salvato said, referring to the imminent closure of the skilled nursing facility.

Andy Gunning, executive director of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, reported on the various programs and services the organization provides for its members.

Council of Governments members include representatives from Teller, El Paso and Park counties; 16 city and town governments; and five military installations. Programs include the federally funded Area Agency on Aging, environmental quality planning, transportation planning and the military, which Gunning said supplies 40% of the local economy.

On second reading, the council approved an ordinance appointmenting the Community of Caring to oversee community service programs, providing the municipal court with more punishment and rehabilitation sentencing alternatives.

The employee handbook was updated to allow volunteers to drive city vehicles under certain conditions.

Council approved Cripple Creek Fire Chief Joe O’Conor’s request to allow him to submit a $14,380 grant application to the El Pomar Foundation that would cover the replacement of firefighter personal protection equipment and fire shelters.

O’Conor said these items are reaching the end of their 10-year lifespans.

O’Conor also presented an intergovernmental agreement with Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District to provide repair services for Cripple Creek’s engines and trucks.

“Fire trucks are complicated, and most repairs are beyond our skills,” he said. “Northeast Teller has hired an emergency vehicle technician who is fully qualified to repair our trucks.”

Lee Baxter, general manager at Bronco Billy’s, asked the council to discuss less expensive ways to mitigate city communications problems caused by construction of the Bronco Billy’s eight-story hotel. The building’s top floor will block communications between the Cripple Creek Police Department and city offices offices.

At a previous meeting, council approved $57,000 from the city’s contingency funds to install a fiber computer-network communications system and to request reimbursement from Full House Resorts, which owns Bronco Billy’s.

Baxter said he has discussed possible solutions that wouldn’t cost as much with Salvato and Harris and suggested cost sharing.

Cost sharing was unacceptable to Mayor Pro Tem Tom Litherland, who said, “Your project will knock out our communications (systems). Your subcontractors have already cut our communications twice. You are the cause of this, and you need to make us whole.”

“Construction impacts are to be borne by the developer,” City Attorney Erin Smith said. “The city and the public are not supposed to pay.”

When Baxter said there were solutions available that won’t cost as much, Smith replied it isn’t the city’s job to look at those solutions.

“Regardless of what we discuss tonight, fiber will run,” Mayor Milford Ashworth said.

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