Serving Colorado's Counties

In 2010 and 2013, legislation was enacted to allow counties to purchase crime insurance in lieu of surety bonds for elected officials, staff, other named insureds, and public trustees.

This legislation saves CAPP member counties money by not having to purchase bonds because CAPP member county named insureds have $10 million in public officials’ liability (E&O) coverage and in crime coverage. These coverages are greater than the prior statutory bond requirements and are provided through CAPP coverage at no additional charge.

CAPP Named Insureds

Those individuals who were or are now elected or appointed officials of the Named Insureds, including members of their governing bodies or any other committees, trustees, boards or commissions of the Named Insureds; district attorneys, their assistants and staff while acting for or on behalf of district attorneys; agents, volunteers, and Useful Public Servants; all of the foregoing while acting for or on behalf of the Named Insureds.

Exception: Members of the following boards or commissions are not Insureds: Housing Authorities, Port Authorities, School Boards, or Railroad Boards.

Purpose of Legislation Allowing Crime Coverage

Surety bonds were originally meant to protect taxpayers against wrongdoings on the part of county officials. However, the surety bond protection became outdated and did not offer as much protection. Additionally, using insurance instead of sureties is preferred because, in the past, a county official could be held personally liable for court costs resulting from a frivolous lawsuit. Indemnification clauses in the surety bond contracts require the county or the county official to reimburse the court costs that the surety bond company takes on, even if the lawsuit is thrown out of court. Insurance contracts do not have such personal indemnification clauses.

Grant Applications

In some instances, when applying for a grant, the county may be required to secure a bond as a condition of receiving the grant. You should ask the grant agency if your CAPP coverage will suffice, but they may still require a bond. In these cases, the county should purchase a bond in order to move forward with the project.

Activities Outside of CAPP Coverage

If you participate on a board that is not insured by CAPP and are required to have a surety bond, a bond will need to be purchased for that purpose.

What This Means for Counties

CAPP member counties save money by not having to purchase bonds while obtaining greater protection than bonds afford. Refer to C.R.S. 30-10-110 for detailed information on crime coverage in lieu of bonds. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Many of our counties and county employees have reported receiving fraudulent unemployment claim forms. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has seen a spike in fraudulent claims since Christmas when the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program ended on December 26th. Recent legislation has since extended these benefits by 11 weeks. 

Fraudsters who were targeting federal funds from the PUA began targeting Colorado’s State unemployment system in higher numbers. Employees have reported receiving U.S. Bank ReliaCards, which the state uses to pay unemployment benefits, in the mail. At the same time, employers have reported receiving paperwork from the CDLE asking them to verify the unemployment claims.  Phil Spesshardt, the Department of Labor’s benefits services manager, stated that fraudsters are stealing mail and using addresses from rental and for-sale home listings to file false claims.

How to Report Fraud

If you receive unemployment paperwork or a debit card and you did not file a claim, you should submit a fraud report (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd6bAS54zwurgQKlFM9mR1FOprBLKyGeSAt3K1_pGSFr_Ms4g/viewform) to the CDLE. If you are an employer and you received fraudulent paperwork asking you to verify a current employee’s unemployment, then either you or the employee should submit one report. Both employer and employee do not need to submit a report for the same incident.

Additional Steps

The CDLE recommends that victims of fraud take the steps shown below:

The CDLE also advises fraud victims to contact the three consumer credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on their name and social security number. Some fraud alert systems are automated and require callers to enter their social security number and date of birth. Never give this information or other personally identifiable information (e.g., bank account numbers, account passwords, etc.) to someone who calls you over the phone.

Credit Bureau Contact Info:
Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
Experian: 1-888-397-3742
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

What This Means for Counties

CTSI administers member counties' property and liability, worker’s compensation, and health pools. CTSI does not handle unemployment benefits. For more information about unemployment fraud, visit https://cdle.colorado.gov/fraud-prevention or contact the CDLE.  

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

The Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect on January 1, 2021. Enacted in 2019, the Equal Pay Act contains several parts and is designed to protect against wage discrimination based on sex, prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, and requires employers to disclose compensation and promotion information. The Act applies to any employer with at least one employee in Colorado, including public bodies, schools, and private individuals.

Wage Discrimination

The Act states:

An employer shall not discriminate between employees on the basis of sex, or on the basis of sex in combination with another protected status as described in section 24-34-402 (1)(a), by paying an employee of one sex a wage rate less than the rate paid to an employee of a different sex for substantially similar work, regardless of job title, based on a composite of skill; effort, which may include consideration of shift work; and responsibility (§4 8-5-102)

The Act does allow for wage differentials if the employer has a system for seniority, merit, or to measure quantity or quality of production. Wage differences may also be justified by where the work is performed, if travel is a necessary and regular part of the work, and education, training, or experience reasonably related to the job.

Salary History

Under the Equal Pay Act, employers may not ask applicants about their salary histories or retaliate against an applicant who chooses not to disclose their salary history. Employers cannot base compensation on prospective employees’ salary history or prohibit employees from discussing or comparing their wage rates.

Compensation Posting

Another component of the Equal Pay Act applies to job postings, including promotions. The Act requires employers to include the hourly rate or hourly range or the salary or salary range in the job listing. Wage and salary ranges may consist of the lowest to highest range the employer believes, in good faith, that they may pay for the position, depending on the circumstances. Employers must also include a general description of bonuses, commissions, or other forms of compensation and a general description of employment benefits, such as healthcare, retirement, paid time off, or any additional benefits that must be reported for federal tax purposes.

Promotion Posting

With a few exceptions, employers must also announce all promotional opportunities to employees on the same day and before making a decision. The announcement should include job title, application method, pay, and benefits. All employees must be notified of these opportunities in writing online or in hard copy, even if the position is open only to those who meet certain requirements.

There are three exceptions to these posting requirements: confidentiality, automatic promotion after a trial period, and temporary, acting, or interim hires. For more information about these exceptions, review the Equal Pay Transparency Rules (7 CCR 1103-13) at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. 

What This Means for Counties

This Technical Update provides a general overview of the Act as it applies to Colorado employers. A full text of the Act is available here. Counties should consult their county attorney to determine how the Act impacts them specifically. Failure to comply with the Act may result in fines between $500 and S10,000 per violation. Counties should ensure that their job postings, policies, and procedures are in compliance. For more information, contact Dana Mumey, CTSI Human Resources Specialist, at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

In November 2016, Colorado citizens voted for Amendment 70, which raises the state minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest wage that can be paid to most workers under the law. Since July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum wage provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The federal minimum wage law supersedes state minimum wage laws only where the federal minimum wage is greater than the state minimum wage. Alternatively, in states like Colorado, where the state minimum wage is greater than the federal minimum wage, the state minimum wage prevails, and employees are entitled to the higher minimum wage.

Amendment 70

Amendment 70 posed the following question to Colorado voters:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution increasing the minimum wage to $9.30 per hour with annual increases of $0.90 each January 1 until it reaches $12 per hour effective January 2020, and annually adjusting it thereafter for cost-of-living increases?

The Amendment passed by 55.4% resulting in the state minimum wage rising from $8.31 per hour to $9.30 on January 1, 2017. Because the Amendment raises the rate in stages, each year since has seen an increase as shown in the following table.  

Table: Minimum wage increases by year.

YearMinimum Wage
2016  $8.31
2017$9.30
2018$10.20
2019$11.10
2020$12.00
2021$12.32

The minimum wage reached $12 in 2020, so from now on, the minimum wage will adjust based on the annual cost of living increases per the Colorado Constitution. After this year, the Colorado minimum wage will be adjusted annually for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The inflation adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The cost-of-living adjustment increases by .32 for 2021.

Local Minimum Wage Laws

In May of 2019, Colorado lawmakers passed House Bill 19-1210, which gives local jurisdictions the power to set their own minimum wage, subject to certain restrictions. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2020.

What This Means for Counties

Effective January 1, 2021, Colorado will raise its minimum wage rate to $12.32 per hour. Counties should begin paying all minimum wage employees the new rate of $12.32 for regular employees and $9.30 for tipped employees unless and until they enact a local minimum wage law. For more information, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

As winter approaches and temperatures drop, it is an excellent time to look at county buildings for areas that could be damaged by freezing temperatures and snowy weather such as roofs, gutters, and pipes.

Ice Dams

Ice dams occur when water freezes near the edge of a roof or around drains and prevents melting snow from draining properly. The water can back up and leak into a building causing damage to roofs and walls. To prevent ice dams, keep drains, gutters, and downspouts free of debris. You may also increase ceiling insulation or add self-regulating heating cables to problem areas.

Roof Damage

Snow and ice can build up on roofs causing structural damage. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, 10 - 12 inches of fresh snow or 3-5 inches of packed snow is equal to one inch of water or about 5 lbs per sq. ft. of roof space. An inch of ice equals about a foot of fresh snow. Snow and ice build up can stress the limits of roofs, even those designed for winter weather. Know the snow load of your buildings, something that can be determined by a structural engineer, and take steps such as snow removal before snow levels reach those limits.

Frozen Pipes

Frozen and burst pipes which are a significant source of property damage during winter weather. Pipes freeze when the heat in the water flowing through the pipes is transferred to below freezing air. The best way to prevent this from happening is to ensure that pipes are placed in heated spaces and by keeping them out of attics, crawl spaces, and away from outside walls. Of course, this is not always possible, especially in existing structures, so pipes at risk of exposure to freezing temperatures should be well insulated. Insulation sleeves or wrapping, usually made of foam rubber or fiberglass, can be placed around pipes to slow the transfer of heat. Check that there are no gaps in the coverage.

Also, check a building’s foundations for cracks or holes near water pipes. Use caulk to seal these areas and keep cold wind out. Closed cabinet doors in bathrooms and kitchens can block warm air from reaching pipes. During a cold spell, open the doors and let the faucet drip. A dripping faucet will not prevent a pipe from freezing, but it can relieve the pressure buildup that occurs when ice blocks a pipe and keep it from bursting. 

What This Means for Counties

Prepare county buildings for winter weather by evaluating vulnerable areas such as roofs, gutters, and exposed pipes. Take proactive steps to prevent damage.  For more information about preparing buildings for winter weather, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

When used properly, air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants, including viruses in a building or small space. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. ( Air Cleaners, HVAC Filters, and Coronavirus [COVID-19])

However, air filtration, in conjunction with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), can help reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19. To read the CDC’s recommendations for employers to reduce virus transmission, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

Choosing a Portable Air Cleaner

Portable air cleaners are designed to draw in air and move it through a filter before returning the now clean air to the room. To reduce virus transmission, the purifier needs to be capable of removing particles less than 1 µm. Air cleaners are rated by how much air they can filter, their clean air delivery rate (CADR) per square footage in an hour. For instance, an air cleaner listed for a 500 sq ft. room might exchange the air in that space five times in an hour, but if placed in a larger area will only exchange the air three times, making it less effective. Five or six air changes in an hour are recommended to reduce virus transmission. Visit https://schools.forhealth.org/ventilation-guide for a ventilation rate assessment guide to help you determine the size of purifier needed for your space.

Additional Considerations

What This Means for Counties

When used as part of an overall plan to improve air quality, air purifiers can help reduce the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. To be effective, air purifiers should have a HEPA filter rated to remove particles less than 1 µm and exchange the air in the area five or six times per hour. For more information, contact 

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Increasing the airflow in buildings can improve air quality and reduce exposure to airborne viruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. In a position statement, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states:

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, can reduce airborne exposures. Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life-threatening, and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.

In general, steps should be taken to increase the intake of outdoor air as much as possible. Because buildings, especially older ones, have HVAC systems with different capabilities, the ASHRAE recommends that an HVAC specialist or engineer be consulted to maximize the airflow and ventilation in each building area. Some general steps building personnel can take to improve air quality are as follows:

Even If a building does not have an existing HVAC system, there are still steps that can be taken to increase airflow, such as:

What This Means for Counties

County personnel should take steps to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by increasing outside airflow in county facilities. Additional resources on maximizing airflow include The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers Responding to COVID-19 (May 2020) and the ASHRAE Guidance for Re-Opening Buildings. For more information, contact CTSI at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

In 2018 alone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that distracted driving accounted for 2,841 driving-related fatalities. Defined as any activity that takes a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving, distracted driving is an ever-increasing problem as more and more technology creeps into our vehicles, dividing our focus. Texting, cell phone use, eating, changing the station on the radio, or even carrying on a conversation all count as distracted driving. There are three types of distractions while driving:

Types of Distractions

Many common activities people engage in while driving can be distracting. One of the biggest and most risky is cell phone use, which causes visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. According to insurance claim data, 19% of auto accidents in 2019 were caused by phone-based distractions. 

People tend to think that they are good at multitasking, especially while driving; however, study after study has found that the brain cannot give full attention to more than one task at a time. Driving is a complex task that requires the full focus and attention of every driver on the road. Distracted driving can cause life-changing injuries, and it can be fatal.

Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

The best way to avoid distracted driving is to limit distractions before putting the vehicle in drive. Plan your route before starting the trip, as even GPS navigation systems can be a distraction. Set the radio, climate controls, etc., before driving. Do not eat while driving. If you are taking a long trip, plan to stop for food and rest breaks. Put cell phones out of sight and out of reach. Set your cell phone to send an automatic text informing anyone who texts that you are driving and will contact them later, or better yet, turn off your cell phone while in the car. According to one study, using a cell phone while driving reduces your focus on driving by 37%.

Counties can help prevent distracted driving by establishing clear procedures for what is and is not acceptable behavior in county vehicles, such as banning employees from cellphone use while driving. Make safe driving a priority with training plans that encourage employees to pull over if they need to make a phone call, check a map, send a text, or engage in other potentially distracting activities. 

What This Means for Counties

Auto accidents pose an enormous risk to the county pools and endanger county employees. Implement clear policies that discourage distracted driving in county vehicles. In addition, provide training to county employees about the risks of distracted driving. CTSI offers several safety videos on distracted driving, including “Hang up and Drive” and a Defensive Driving Refresher webinar. Members will need to login to view the videos. For more information about the dangers of distracted driving or for information on implementing a fleet safety program, contact CTSI Loss Control at (303) 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Winter conditions often impair visibility, making it hard for a driver to see and to be seen. If possible, avoid driving when visibility is low. If you must drive, use your headlights on low and drive slowly. Pull over to the side of the road if conditions worsen.

Before getting in your vehicle, clean snow, and ice from the entire vehicle (i.e., roof, windows, mirrors, lights, trunk, hood). Snow and ice can be blown off of a moving vehicle obscuring the windshield or even hitting other vehicles. You can turn on the heater for a few minutes before using the defroster to prevent warm air from fogging the windshield when it hits the cold glass.

Starting Out

Traction is greatest before the wheels spin, so gentle pressure on the accelerator will help avoid skids. If the wheels start to spin, let up on the accelerator until traction returns. If more traction is needed, put traction mats or sand, cat litter, or another abrasive substance under the wheels.

Following

The three to four-second rule for following another vehicle only applies to dry pavement. In wet or slick conditions, the distance should be increased to eight to 10 seconds. This allows for more time to stop. Leave plenty of room between yourself and other vehicles in case you have to steer around a skidding or stopped vehicle. In slick conditions and at speeds over 25 mph, steering around an object takes less distance than braking, and sudden braking can cause the driver to lose control of their vehicle. Also, do not use cruise control when driving on slippery roads.

Braking

Bridges, overpasses, shaded spots, and intersections are likely the first areas to become slick and icy during winter conditions. When approaching these areas, focus your attention as far ahead as possible, 20-30 seconds, to compensate for the longer stopping distances. Remember when road conditions change, so do stopping requirements. It takes twice the distance to stop on ice at 0°F than it does at 32°F.

If your vehicle has an antilock braking system (ABS), you do not need to pump the brakes on slippery roads. ABS has speed sensors on each wheel and uses an electro-hydraulic braking circuit. The system detects if a wheel begins to skid and pulses the brakes. In short, an ABS will pump the brake for you. Apply steady pressure to the brake. ABS is standard on vehicles manufactured after 2013.

If your vehicle does not have ABS, pumping the brakes can help you maintain control on slippery roads. Apply and release pressure to the brake at a moderate rate. Applying pressure to the brake too quickly can cause your vehicle to skid.

What This Means for Counties

Vehicle accidents are a significant area of loss for the county pools. You can take steps to limit this loss by monitoring road and weather conditions when driving in winter conditions and making sure that both you and your vehicle are prepared. Drive at speeds appropriate for the road conditions and maintain a greater following distance on slick or icy roads. Stay safe. For more information about winter driving conditions, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.

A PDF of this Technical Update is available here.

Winter in Colorado often brings icy conditions, snow, and slick roads. While it is always best to stay home when road conditions are poor, winter driving is necessary for many Coloradans. Ensuring that your vehicle is properly prepared for winter before poor road conditions set in can help prevent accidents. AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicles checked in the Fall as icy, wet, and cold weather can challenge a vehicle's operating efficiency.

Electrical System

The electrical system consists of the battery, ignition, and lights. A fully-charged battery is needed for cold-weather starts, so the charge should be checked, and the battery replaced if needed. Also, check for damaged wires, a cracked distributor cap, or worn spark plugs in the ignition system because they can cause a breakdown or prevent the vehicle from starting. Check that headlights are clean and in working order. Dirt and grime can cut down the lenses' effectiveness by as much as 90%.   

Brake System

Brakes are critical in any driving condition and should be checked regularly. Brake repairs should not be delayed.

Tires

Traction between the tire and the road surface determines how well a vehicle stops, turns, and accelerates. Tires should be properly inflated and in good condition. For drivers who live in areas of light-to-moderate snowfall, a set of all-season tires (M+S rated) should suffice. Snow tires or chains may be necessary for Coloradans living at higher altitudes.   

The Exhaust System

The exhaust system muffles engine noise and disperses dangerous gases like carbon monoxide given off by the engine. A mechanic should check the system for leaks to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember, carbon monoxide is odorless, difficult to detect, and deadly if inhaled in large quantities. If your vehicle is stuck in snow and you have the engine running, be sure that the exhaust pipe is not blocked and leave a window slightly open to prevent carbon monoxide from building up in the passenger compartment.

Heating and Cooling System

Check that your vehicle has enough antifreeze to prevent freezing in winter conditions. Antifreeze should be changed, and the system checked for leaks as recommended by your vehicle owner's manual.

Windshields and Vehicle Exterior

Keep windshields and mirrors clean. Replace worn wiper blades that leave streaks and decrease visibility. Also, use an antifreeze windshield wiper fluid. Check that wiper blades are free of ice and snow before using to prevent damage to the window and wiper motor.

What This Means for Counties 

County employees will likely face snowy or icy road conditions this winter, either in their personal or county vehicles. Being prepared for these conditions lessens the likelihood of an accident or breakdown. For more information about winter driving conditions, contact CTSI at 303 861 0507.