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Commissioners OK non-binding railroad MOU in record short meeting

Board also met with elected officials on budget requests

by E.E.Mullens
WALSENBURG — Sandwiched in between work session budget meetings with county elected officials, the board of county commissioners held a very brief special meeting on Tuesday, aimed at ensuring whichever bidder for the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad wins the rail line has some kind of agreement in place to pay back the over $1M in back taxes owed to Huerfano County.

The three-minute long special meeting saw passage of a non-binding memorandum of understanding with a new bidder, Big Shoulders Capital, (BSC) who were expected to file their bid for the railroad on Wed., Nov. 2, 2022.

While the item did pass unanimously, Commissioner John Galusha said he felt the tax payback offer would be rejected by San Luis Valley counties due to the fact the package did not address the San Luis and Rio Grande (SLRG) short line that runs from Monte Vista to South Fork in Rio Grande County.
The total owed in back taxes to Huerfano County amounts to $1,180,122, as of June 2022.  In the terms of understanding for the Big Shoulders Capital bid is a segment entitled “consideration to the counties”.  That segment says that no less than $4M in cash will be paid to the SLRG estate, of which an amount equal to 50 % of the tax liability will be paid to the county at closing.  The document further says the balance of the tax liability will be paid to the county over a period of time not to exceed seven years, commencing on the closing date, with an annual interest of 6 %.  The memo says there will be no principal payments in the first year after closing, then $7,720 of the principal tax debt will be paid per month for the remaining six years with a final payment of any outstanding principal due at maturity.
The MOU says BSC will form a new entity (Newco) that will ultimately acquire the SLRG assets and assumed liabilities including the deferred tax liabilities.

Galusha offered the motion to approve and commissioners Arica Andreatta (who seconded the motion) and board chairman Gerald Cisneros voted in favor of the MOU.

At least two companies have already submitted bid packages to the federal bankruptcy court in Denver; BSC will be the third if they submit their bid mid-week.  Approval of the winning bid must come from the bankruptcy court and the U.S. Surface Transportation department.

While the actual special session of the board of commissioners was very short, it did begin its day at 9 a.m. Tuesday with budget work session meetings with the county assessor and county treasurer.  Following the three minute special meeting, the board was scheduled to meet with the sheriff, the county coroner, and the county land use department on budget requests.

Beginning at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 1, the board was scheduled to meet in joint budget work sessions with the Las Animas Board of County Commissioners in Trinidad to discuss the budgets of both the Las Animas/Huerfano District Health Department and the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Cards of Thanks

Thank you San Isabel Thank you, San Isabel.  Terrific winds and no Walsenburg outage! ~Carolyn Newman Walsenburg,, CO Thanks from Traditions I want to thank

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