Trustees Work Session: September 11, 2018

by Pitkin News September 12, 2018

GUNNISON COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AGREE TO DEVELOP 5-YEAR PLAN FOR SNOW REMOVAL SERVICES FOR TOWN OF PITKIN

Pitkin Town Council members attended a workshop session of the Gunnison County Commission on September 11 to discuss the level of snow removal services Pitkin can expect to receive from the Gunnison County Public Works Department. The meeting was requested by Pitkin Trustees after Gunnison County offered a one-year agreement that offered snow removal services that were basically limited to Main, State and River Streets. This past winter Gunnison County Public Works plowed those three streets plus several cross streets and “loops” at each end of town.

Speaking on behalf of the Pitkin Town Council, Trustee Brad Wick indicated that the Town Council acknowledges that it is their responsibility to provide snow removal services but explained to the County Commission that there are several problems that make it difficult and cost prohibitive for the Town of Pitkin to afford snow removal services without assistance from Gunnison County. Mr. Wick noted that last winter the County provided a greater level of service than proposed for this winter and the lack of stability in service level from one year to the next makes it difficult to plan a budget for snow removal. Other problems addressed were that only one qualified bidder was available last year and due to the lack of snow last winter there is no clear picture of what actual costs might be during a typical winter. Mr. Wick reviewed a comparison of budget resources available to Marble and to Pitkin, noting that sales and property tax revenues are quite similar but that Marble realizes over $100,000 in additional revenue from the Marble quarry and a town owned campground. Gunnison County plows the County road to Marble and to the school house, and Marble contracts for plowing the rest of the community. Pitkin does not have that additional revenue resource, thus the Town is unable to realistically afford snow removal services for the entire town. Mr. Wick explained that the Town Council recognizes that snow removal is the top budget priority in Pitkin and that the Town may need to reduce or eliminate other programs and services if Gunnison County is unwilling to be involved in finding a solution.

Public Works Director Marlene Crosby explained some equipment and personnel limitations that have caused her department to reduce service levels, noting that the front-end loader that used to be available has been reassigned to the Doyleville salt/sand stockpile facility. The front-end loader is used to supply plow trucks which treat roads and intersections in and around the Quartz Creek valley and along US Highway 50. Noting that the guidelines Pitkin established last winter to limit parking on plowed streets and to encourage residents to move snow onto private property rather than the streets to be plowed greatly improved plowing conditions, Ms. Crosby indicated that it should be possible for the Public Works Department to maintain a stable level of service for several years into the future.

Following discussion by County Commission members and County staff, the County Commission indicated that it is willing to draft a five-year memorandum of understanding to outline the snow removal services to be provided by Gunnison County. The five-year agreement will include plowing of Main, State and River Streets as well as several cross streets yet to be identified. County staff will work with town officials to develop a draft agreement to be reviewed by Pitkin trustees and the County Commission. It is anticipated that snow removal services will be discussed in more detail at the next regular meeting of the Pitkin Town Council.