Data collected by Dr. Nathan Perry, Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado Mesa University
Despite the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, Delta County is improving and, in some cases, very strong. Delta County sales taxes, for example, grew a whopping 17.55% in 2020. This increase comes on the heels of the passage of the Back the Badge initiative approved by voters in November. That initiative added .8% sales tax bringing Delta County’s total sales tax to 2.8% which took effect in January 2021. (NOTE: Delta County also has a cash nest egg of almost $19 million, or 49% of its total budget.)
The Delta County labor market improved drastically from the April lows in unemployment, falling from 10.5% to as low as 5.3% in October. Unemployment numbers across the Western Slope and the nation rose through the winter months as COVID numbers climbed and government restrictions tightened.
Delta County median household income increased from 2018 to 2019 from $46,486 to $51,525, a 12% increase. This was lower than Mesa County (a 17% increase) but higher than Montrose County, which saw no increase in median household income. There is now a 3-year trend of increasing median household income, showing that strong economic data since 2017 is translating to a higher standard of living.
Vaccination clinics going strong
Delta County Health Department and partners continue large-scale vaccination clinics in various locations around the county including the one pictured above held at Heritage Hall on March 12. Delta County has administered a total of 11,594 doses as of March 18.
Delta County is now vaccinating individuals who fall into priority group 1B.4, in addition to all previous phases. Anyone 50-years and older is now eligible in that grouping.
Thursday, March 25 – at Heritage Hall in Hotchkiss. Sign up.
In other COVID-related news, Environmental Health Department Director, Greg Rajnowski, will no longer provide COVID-19 stats to Commissioners after seemingly contentious conversations with the Board in earlier meetings. County PR person, Darnell Place-Wise told Commissioners that Rajnowski was “concentrating on his environmental health work.”
Sunshine Week ends today, but the sunshine lives on
DCCR is working on several initiatives to help improve open local government in 2021. One initiative involves virtual attendance in public meetings. We have asked county administration to continue and, in fact, enhance the public’s ability of attend public meetings via Zoom or other common virtual platform. The county promised improved video technology at their new location but the current Zoom meetings are still being conducted without the ability to see Commissioners inside the board room.
DCCR conducted an informal Facebook poll asking readers: WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE COUNTY CONTINUE TO OFFER VIRTUAL ATTENDANCE TO PUBLIC MEETINGS even after the pandemic is over? Several dozen comments later, the answer is YES!
Some of the responses:
“Many other counties already do that. More eyes on government is good thing.”
“I would like to see the meetings streamed as well as recorded and posted as a way for easier access…”
“Yes please! Schedules with kids are crazy juggling acts, more folks could participate!”
“Public meetings with more accessibility means more citizen interest and a stronger democracy.”