Black Hawk creates a Violations Bureau

To reduce court appearances for minor infractions

By Staci McBrayer

The Black Hawk City Council met in the Council Chambers for their regularly scheduled meeting on November 12th, 2014. Mayor David Spellman, Aldermen Jim Johnson, Paul Bennett, Linda Armbright, Greg Moates, and Hal Midcap along with City Attorney Corey Hoffman and City Manager Jack Lewis were present. Alderman Benito Torres was absent.

Gilpin Ambulance Authority Mutual Aid Agreement

Aldermen approved a mutual aid agreement with the Gilpin Ambulance Authority. Though the City and the Gilpin Ambulance Authority currently work together, no formal agreement has previously been in place. The agreement was sought to provide legal documentation to support the City’s current structure.

Creation of Violations Bureau

Aldermen approved an ordinance that would create a Violations Bureau. The purpose of the Violations Bureau is to reduce the municipal court docket by creating penalty assessments for specific municipal code violations for first time offenders or offenders deemed unlikely to repeat the offense (such as individuals who do not live in the County.)

The penalty assessments would allow offenders to pay fines and court costs without appearing in court. However, a City police officer could still order an offender into court or make an arrest when the officer feels such measures are appropriate. Any cases involving personal injury or restitution would still require the offender to appear in court.

The City hopes to see other benefits to the ordinance, including an increase in timely payments of fines for minor violations as well as a reduction in warrants issued for offenders who fail to appear in court. Additionally, the City hopes to obtain more efficient municipal court processes with the reduction in court preparation time for the municipal court clerk.

Amendment to the Employee Handbook

City Council approved a change to the Employee Handbook regarding established City holidays. The change converts the “employee birthday” holiday to a floating holiday in order to clarify confusion regarding employees receiving premium holiday pay. If an employee is required to work on a City recognized holiday, the employee handbook states the employee should receive eight hours of premium “holiday pay” of time-and-a-half the employee’s regular rate. However, if the employee’s birthday does not fall on a regularly scheduled workday, premium pay cannot be received (only eight hours of regular pay for the holiday pay.) Changing the employee birthday “holiday” to a floating holiday allows employees to schedule the holiday on one their regular workdays to ensure they receive premium pay.

Findings of Fact for Denials

Aldermen approved two separate resolutions making findings of fact in support of the Community Planning and Development Administrator’s decision to deny appeals for 101 Hillside Street and 171 Marchant Street. The action finalized the Council’s decision regarding both appeals made at the October 22nd meeting. The property owner of both locations, George Works of Dallas, Texas, originally sought site work component grants for both properties to construct a soil stabilization walls. At the October 22nd hearing, the Council upheld the staff’s decision to deny both grants.

Colorado Firefighter Health and Circulatory Benefits Trust Agreement

Aldermen tabled a resolution to adopt and enter into a Trust Agreement with the Colorado Firefighter Health and Circulatory Benefits Trust. Some details of the Trust agreement had yet to be resolved, and City Manager Lewis advised the Aldermen to table the issue until the next meeting.

The Trust was formed to cover municipalities’ liabilities as described in the Colorado Revised Statutes. The statutes require any full time firefighter with five years continuous employment be provided a defined level of benefits for certain heart and circulatory malfunctions. The City’s costs associated with the benefits will be reimbursed with Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) funds.

Restructuring IT Division

City Finance Director Lance Hillis sought and received approval to restructure the City’s Information Technology Division. In August, the Council approved a restructure of the division that would comprise the department with a network administrator and an Information Technology Support Technician. Hillis said that after further research, it was found that the network administrator job title was not an appropriate title for the duties and responsibilities the position actually required. Further research showed the job title that better fits the job description is that of Information Technology Manager.

City Manager’s Report

The City Council approved City Manager Lewis’s request to dispose of some of the City’s Fire Department equipment. Lewis said the fire department had recently completed an extensive reorganization of its facility, resulting in the collection of outdated equipment.

Lewis also sought authorization to issue the holiday and annual bonuses for City staff. The City had previously budgeted for the bonuses. Aldermen approved a $300 holiday bonus and a 3% annual bonus.

Lewis also suggested to the Council that they cancel their December 3rd meeting but continue with the December 10th meeting. The Aldermen approved the decision to officially cancel the December 3rd meeting.

Residential Holiday Light Contest

Aldermen Midcap requested the Council discuss the possibility of bringing back the Residential Holiday Light Contest. The contest has been held in the past, but not without problems. “I really kind of miss it,” Aldermen Armbright said.

Midcap suggested that the prizes for the contest be $500 for first, $300 for second, and $200 for third. Traditionally, City police officers escort patrons from the local casinos to judge the residential lights. Problems have arisen in the past citizens complaining about various aspects of the contest, especially when such a large prize was at stake.

Most of the Aldermen seemed to appreciate the sentiment of bringing back the tradition, but did not want to endure the citizens’ complaints associated with the contest. In the end, a straw vote by Aldermen defeated the measure to revive the tradition.

Next Meeting

 The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Black Hawk City Council is Wednesday, December 10th at 3:00 p.m. in the council chambers located upstairs at 211 Church Street, Black Hawk. This will be the only meeting in December and the last meeting of 2014.

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