Here are three things to take away from the Aug. 13 meeting of the Buena Vista board of trustees:
1 Jason Lengerich, the warden of the Buena Vista Correctional Complex, appeared before the board to give an update on the prison’s plans for the facility previously used for its boot camp program.
Lengerich said that BVCC was looking to use the facility for a transitional work release program aimed at reducing recidivism by giving inmates the opportunity to learn life skills and gain job experience before being released.
Initially, Lengerich said, BVCC is looking to select six inmates who are within a few months of completing their sentence. Their jobs will be to restore and rehabilitate the boot camp facility itself, which has remained unused for nearly a decade after the boot camp program was shuttered in 2010.
Ultimately, though, Lengerich envisions that the boot camp facility will house 50 to 75 non-violent offenders nearing the end of their sentence, where there will be taught life skills and adjust to a self-sufficient life on the outside before being released.
“We’re trying to normalize them back into taking care of themselves,” Lengerich said.
Lengerich said that BVCC is also seeking employers in the Buena Vista area who may be willing to take on offenders as temporary employees, paying them the same wages as regular staff.
Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation CEO Wendell Pryor spoke in favor of the program, saying that the area has been hit by a workforce crisis, due to a shortage of employees.
“Not one employer has balked at the idea,” said Pryor. “The employer response has been fairly positive.”
Town administrator Phillip Puckett said that the prison had agreed to involve the town and the police department in the vetting and selection process for the offenders who would be working in the community.
Of course, whether an offender goes through a transitional program like this or not, they’re free to find a new home once released from their sentence, including becoming a resident of Buena Vista.
Lengerich said, “I am not anticipating a lot of them sticking around because of the high cost of living and the lack of inventory in housing.
“They’re going to be our neighbors, so we want them to be the best neighbors they can be,” Lengerich said.
2 The board received a presentation of a projection of how the town’s budget may look over the next five years.
The presentation was intended to give trustees a greater sense of the long-term consequence of approving some of the high-dollar investments the town is currently considering.
The projections assume that the town will hire two additional firefighters (3 if it is awarded a SAFER grant that it has applied for), an additional police officer with a focus on traffic stops, additional parks and cemetery maintenance staff, a dedicated Public Works engineer and an expansion of a current part-time Recreation Department position to full time to handle special events.
The projection also takes into account water capital projects including the recently approved improvements to the capacity of the town’s infiltration gallery water collection infrastructure and a number of airport improvements.
The projection also assumes that the town’s growth will remain steady over the next 5 years.
The projection sees revenues increasing over the next five years, and the town’s operating expenses and transfers to long-term capital improvement funds growing with it.
For 2020, the projection prepared by treasurer Michelle Stoke and administrator Puckett predicts a revenue of $4,474,343 and operating expenses of $4,132,826, and by 2024, revenues of $4,898,579 and operating expenses of $4,527,357.
Contributions to the town’s airport fund and capital fund would remain steady for each of the five years in the projection at $112,000 and $124,000 per year respectively.
3 The board gave fire chief Dixon Villers the go-ahead to begin looking for new firefighter hires and to purchase – if he approves of it – a new fire truck, a 2009 F550 Simon Mini Pumper.
The purchase, from the Epworth Community Fire Department in Epworth, Ia., would cost $79,000 and be finalized before Oct.1
The truck would replace a vehicle built in the 1970s.