The Dolores Town board cruised into summer with a swift Tuesday meeting, covering routine business while mending some fences with the sheriff's office.
Sales tax revenues have been down for two months in a row compared with last year, including a $1,100 drop in April, reported Town Manager Ryan Mahoney.
The shortfall is due in part to the loss of the Hollywood Bar, which was destroyed by fire in August last year.
"There have been no plans submitted to rebuild the bar," Mahoney said.
Investigators believe arson was the cause, but no one has been charged.
The popular honky-tonk bar and pool hall was demolished, and the lot sits vacant.
"Our revenues will rebound this summer as business picks up, but I suspect the drop in revenues from the loss of the bar has caught up with us," Mahoney said.
Speeders along Highway 145 are always a concern for locals and town officials. The town pays $147,000 for a contract with the Montezuma County sheriff office to fight crime, keep the peace and stop speeders and drunk drivers.
Perception of a lack of coverage drew some recent criticism from board members and the community.
But Spruell defended his efforts to cover Dolores, and said his deputies would be more on the look out for speeders.
"You will see more tickets because you asked for it," he said. "I looked into the hours to see if we delivered what we promised and found we cover the town three times longer than required in the contract, so you are getting a lot of bang for your buck."
For May, deputies logged 519 hours monitoring Dolores, and detectives worked 21 hours on various criminal cases, he said.
Spruell said Mancos pays around $300,000 for a town marshal and three deputies, but does not have the resources of the sheriff's office.
"If one of them gets sick, or a car breaks down, the town loses coverage. When that happens to us we can reassign Dolores duties from one of our 24 deputies. If a patrol car breaks down, we go to the motor pool and get another."
The additional hours are a perk for the town, Spruell said, assuring the board, "We're not going to bounce you up in charges. We enjoy the contract and will work with you."
Absence of deputies at recent meetings was misinterpreted, he said, and noted that their presence is only required if requested by the board.
Mahoney said the feeling now is that law-enforcement coverage has improved.
Deputies use discretion when monitoring traffic, Spruell added.
"We do not want to make Dolores a speed trap."
EXPLAINING The LAWSUIT
Spruell joined 54 other sheriffs across the state in a lawsuit against new gun control laws in Colorado arguing they are unconstitutional. He said he recognized that not everyone agrees, and presented his reasoning to the board.
"They are just not enforceable," he said. "It's a constitutional issue and I will fight for the Second Amendment (right to bear arms)."
The new laws ban the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds and require background checks for private guns sales. But Spruell contends the laws are not practical.
"It's a big mistake. Even if a gun can be modified to accept more than 15 rounds, it is illegal," Spruell said. "This gun I have here has a removable base plate and can be made to accept more rounds so it would not comply."
He said the law won't be effective, because gun owners with banned equipment will just say they bought it prior to July 1, when the law took effect.
Mayor Val Truelsen and trustee Ginger Black expressed concern that the new gun laws could dissuade hunters from coming to the area. Spruell said many hunting rifles can be converted to accept 15 or larger magazine rounds making them illegal.
When asked if violators would be ticketed, Spruell said, "not from me."
"Hunting season is my busiest time," Black said. "I've been hearing that people are not coming," because of the gun restrictions.
A BUD ON THE PILLOW
Shop owners are reporting interest in recreational marijuana sales from visitors since it was legalized in the state last year.
Town attorney Mike Green said the state is still ironing out the rules, and sales won't be allowed until next year or later. Possession under one ounce by adults 21 and over is legal now, cultivation for personal use is allowed, and the drug can be given away.
"Bed-and-breakfasts around here are leaving a bud on the pillow for the guests," reported undersheriff Robin Cronk.
Towns can decide whether to allow recreational sale of marijuana, but Dolores has yet to rule on the matter.
Also reported at the board meeting:
Beginning June 21, the town will chip seal Central Ave. between First and Third streets. Drainage issues will be fixed as well.
A repaving project on Highway 145 through town is expected to wrap up this weekend. Minor traffic delays are expected.
Asphalt milling from repaving on Highway 145 will be recycled and installed on the north end of 5th Street. The goal is to see if the base can be chipped sealed over.
The town will be repairing pot holes in the coming weeks, including large ones on the road across the Fourth Street bridge.