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Black Hawk dollars are big part of county and school district revenues

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New employee pay plan, plus annual housekeeping matters

By Lynn Volkens

Black Hawk Mayor David Spellman and City Council members Linda Armbright, Paul Bennett, Diane Cales, Jim Johnson, Greg Moates and Benito Torres conducted their first Council meeting of 2013 on January 9th. They conducted several public hearings (with no public commenting) and then took care of the annual housekeeping issues. City Manager Jack Lewis called attention to Black Hawk’s new fire truck, which was recently put into service and which he said should serve the City for a long time (and doesn’t make the brake noise the old truck did, he gleefully noted).

New Employee

  Sandra Slack was introduced to the Council. She was welcomed by the Mayor and each Alderman as she made her way around the table shaking hands. Slack is a Fleet Technician Aide in the Public Works Department.

BID Appointment

In approving Council Bill 1, the Aldermen passed an ordinance appointing Dan Roy to the Board of Directors for the Black Hawk Business Improvement District (BID). Roy is the new general manager at the Riviera Casino.

2013 Pay Plan

Council Bill 2, an ordinance adopting the City’s pay plan for this year, was unanimously approved. City Manager Jack Lewis said the Plan was the result of months of working on a new way to approach the matter. “I think we’ve come up with it,” he said, explaining that the new Plan moves away from merit and step increases. The City’s staff surveyed twelve municipalities to determine the going pay rate for positions similar to Black Hawk’s. Then they determined the average of those pay rates, and added 10% to come up with Black Hawk’s new Pay Plan. Lewis called the new Plan “a very strong compensation package.” He further explained that the City will complete a market survey of rates of pay during the first quarter of the year, annually. They’ll then determine the mid-point for the pay ranges and “see if anything’s moved” before recalculating Black Hawk’s pay plan for each new year. Lewis complimented the City’s department heads, noting there had been some “spirited discussions.” He lauded the market-driven system they had developed, credited the 10% above average rate as a means to attract employees from the metropolitan area, and said the new Plan had flexibility within the ranges of each position so that education and job experience can be considered when setting an employee’s pay rate. Lewis also credited the Council for being a group that is willing to try the new Plan. “Nothing’s perfect,” he told them, adding that if something with this pay plan isn’t working, they’ll change it. He is still working on the criteria for bonuses, he said.

Working with the Feds

The Aldermen approved an agreement for “federal advocacy between the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) and the City of Black Hawk. CASTA is a non-profit corporation which plays a role in the City obtaining grants such as those used to buy new shuttle buses. Numerous Colorado transit agencies who seek these grants have formed the Colorado Transit Coalition and CASTA acts as coordinator for that coalition-“a liaison between the various agencies,” said Tom Isbester, director of Black Hawk’s Public Works Department. The document before them, he explained to the Council, was simply the annual renewal of that agreement.

Designated Posting Place

  In adopting Resolution 01-2013, the Council set Black Hawk City Hall as the designated public place where they will post all meeting notices. The designation of a set place is required by Colorado Open Meetings Law and is one of the actions taken at this time every year.

Parking Impact Fee Rebate

  The Aldermen adopted Resolution 2-2013, rebating parking impact fees for the development of hotels and other amenities, specifically for the construction of a hotel consisting of fifty or more hotel rooms. For those projects, the rebate is 50% of the parking impact fees, provided the applicants for the rebate file with the City on or before March 31, 2014. Mayor Spellman described the rebate as “ultimately becoming part of our incentive program,” referring to the City’s history of encouraging and promoting gaming industry development as well as diversifying the City’s economy. The Aldermen chose to set the rebate on a temporary basis, so that should the City’s parking needs evolve in the future, they can re-evaluate whether or not,  or how much, to rebate at that time.

Newspaper of Record

  Mayor Spellman recused himself and Alderman Moates conducted the meeting for appointing the City’s Newspaper of Record. The Mayor is part owner of the Weekly Register-Call, the newspaper being considered as the one Black Hawk will use for placing all legal notices. The Council voted to appoint the Weekly Register-Call as Newspaper of Record for another year.

Mayor Spellman referred to a recent story in the Weekly Register-Call, which was about planned changes for the Rollinsville and Pinecliffe Post Offices. Rural delivery for many of the people residing in those areas of Gilpin County comes out of the Black Hawk Post Office. Spellman commented that the City’s decision to build the new Black Hawk Post Office, and provide delivery service from it, had paid off as a benefit to the community and that Black Hawk should be proud of a job well done.

Black Hawk’s Contributions to the Greater Community

  Finance Director Lance Hillis provided a presentation showing Black Hawk’s property tax and gaming revenues and how the funds benefit the greater community. Of the commercial gaming properties, assessed for taxation purposes, Black Hawk and Central City casinos make up 67% of the total assessed value in Gilpin County. Black Hawk properties are 60% of that equation, resulting in projected 2013 property tax revenues of $2,117,971 for Gilpin County. (Property tax revenues from all commercial properties in the county is projected at $3,517,823). Additionally, the county is expecting to receive $9.6 million in state gaming tax revenue this year. Black Hawk casinos contribute 92% ($8,863,579) of that amount. The total of the two, $11,983,222 makes up approximately 65% of Gilpin County’s total annual revenue of $18,522,502. These combined revenues from Black Hawk’s casinos provide over 59% of the County’s budget.

In 2009, the Gilpin County RE-1 School District began receiving revenues generated from a dedicated 1.50% Black Hawk sales tax, called the Educational Enhancement Tax. Since then, Black Hawk’s tax has provided funding for the school in the amount of $2,399,217 and is expected to provide $690,000 for the school’s current fiscal year.  The property tax revenue of $2,690,612 which is generated solely from Black Hawk properties for the school district, plus the revenue from the dedicated sales tax, make up 48% of the School District’s budget.   “This city generates a great deal of revenue for the county and the school,” Mayor Spellman concluded.

A more detailed accounting of the revenue generated by Black Hawk, showing its progression since 2011, was provided by the City and is published elsewhere in this issue.

Executive Session

  Following the business meeting, the Council met with City Attorney Corey Hoffmann in an executive session to discuss matters related to personnel, transaction(s) related to real, personal or other property, matters related to negotiation, and pending litigation. The Council took no further action.

Heads Up

  Black Hawk City Council meets next on January 23, 2013.

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