Briefing by the Department of Local Affairs
COMMITTEE ON JOINT LOCAL GOVERNMENT
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02:52 PM -- Briefing by the Department of Local Affairs
Susan Kirkpatrick, Director, Department of Local Affairs, introduced herself and division the heads of the department's five division to the Joint Local Government Committee. These divisions include the Board of Assessment Appeals, Emergency Management, Housing, Local Government, and Property Taxation. Director Kirkpatrick explained that the department's responsibilities include supervising local property tax collections, administering state and federal low-income housing programs, providing technical assistance to local governments, assisting local governments in capital construction, community services, emergency preparedness and response. She distributed the department's report to the joint committee (Attachment C). She discussed the functions of DOLA, the department's relationship with the Colorado General Assembly, and department's focus on improving the quality of life and creating "liveable" communities. Director Kirkpatrick talked about the goals and challenges that were met by the department during 2008 and the upcoming goals and challenges for the department in 2009.
Director Kirkpatrick discussed the State Board of Assessment Appeals, county boards of equalization, and the process for property assessment appeals. She introduced Diane Fechisin, Director of Board of Assessment Appeals, to address questions regarding the workload and process of assessment appeals. She discussed the department's Division of Emergency Management, and the loss of the role of homeland securities grant management for the state.
Director Kirkpatrick, discussed the department's Division of Housing and explained the success of the division to receive federal funding to address foreclosures in 2008. She discussed the changes to the allocation of the state's portion of federal mineral lease revenue that is available to local governments through the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program.
Director Kirkpatrick and Kathi Williams, Director, Division of Housing, addressed questions about the foreclosure assistance and how the department works with lenders and borrowers. Ms. Williams discussed the process of assisting home owners and working with lenders to avoid foreclosures in the state. She addressed questions about the status of the housing markets, the number of foreclosures affecting property values in the housing market, and the possibility of assistance through legislation or a tax increase. Ms. Williams discussed federal funding that is received by the division from Community Development Block Grants, Home Funds, and Emergency Shelter Grants. She explained that funding was decreasing from the federal government and she discussed recent federal law changes affecting the housing market and need for future changes at the state or federal levels. Director Kirkpatrick outlined positive changes made to the various housing grants programs in order to require more accountability.
Representatives Soper and Peniston thanked the department for an informal informational meeting at the beginning of the legislative session. Representative Vigil thanked the department for their cooperative efforts with the General Assembly and complemented their efficiencies.