Commissioners: State of the county is sound | VailDaily.com

Commissioners: State of the county is sound

EAGLE — The state of Eagle County's government is pretty good, the county commissioners said in this week's annual State of the County presentation.

Eagle County's annual budget tops $100 million, and taking care of taxpayer money tops the list of goals, County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry said.

Chandler-Henry congratulated the county's finance and budgeting team, which earned a Certificate of Achievement from the Government Finance Officer Association.

Speaking of money, the county spent $5.7 million on two new bridges, the Burns and Catamount bridges. Of that $5.7 million, 80 percent came from the federal government.

"There are no longer any one-lane bridges in Eagle County. It's a point of nostalgia, but also pride," Chandler-Henry said.

Among the county's other 2016 financial accomplishments:

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• Health care costs are the highest in the nation, and the county staff is trying to keep costs down by working with the staff, state and federal officials, as well as other counties in the region.

• The county has installed electric vehicle charging stations and has purchased more solar energy.

• A wildlife connectivity plan was selected for presentation at an international confab last May.

"In Eagle County, we believe on acting on our priorities," Chandler-Henry said.

"I'll say how proud I am of our county for taking specific and measurable actions to protect our natural environment," Chandler-Henry said.

A great place to live

Six community conversations dealt with three major issues: affordable housing, childhood development and transportation. They all tend to overlap, said County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney.

"Making Eagle County a great place takes collaboration, cooperation and persistence," McQueeney said. "Yes, this is about making Eagle County a great place to live, but it is also about our diverse and resilient economy."

The county's Employment First program helps food assistance recipients navigate job searches. In 2016, the program helped participants land 208 jobs.

The Castle Peak Senior Living Center opened in 2016, and 21 residents are living there now.

Working with the EGE Air Alliance, winter airline service was expanded to 12 markets, McQueeney said.

"We have big goals in economic diversity and resiliency, like retaining and attracting business that pay a living wage, and we are up against big obstacles," McQueeney said. "The cost of health care in our region is out of control. The cost of housing and childcare make it difficult for businesses to develop and expand because they cannot find employees."

To be resilient, Eagle County must stop losing residents as they start families and leave for less expensive communities, McQueeney said.

"It is clear to me that we can do it. The successes of 2016 demonstrates our strengths in collaboration, creativity and persistence.

Last week, Reggie Bicha, Gov. John Hickenlooper's Colorado Human Services Director, drove all the way to Eagle to honor Eagle County's child welfare staff.

"Of course, these employees don't do this tough work for the awards or accolades, but it sure feels good when someone notices, and especially if that someone is a cabinet member of the governor," said County Commissioner Jill Ryan.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Among Eagle County government’s 2016 highlights

300 miles: Roads plowed by Eagle County crews

500 miles: Roads maintained by Eagle County crews

1 million: Riders on ECO bus system

6,000 vaccinations: Children and adults vaccinated by the county’s public health agency.

60,000 vehicles: registered by the Clerk & Recorders Office

41,000: Calls answered by Eagle County Sheriff’s Office

$5.7 million: Two new bridges: Burns bridge, $2.8 million. Catamount, $2.9 million. 80 percent of that money came from the federal government.

$2 million: Grants from Great Outdoors Colorado for a seven-mile trail from Eagle to the Horn Ranch open space

$500,000: Lake Creek Village playground renovation

$6.7 million: Apron reconstruction at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Most of that money came from the FAA.