2012 Audit shows City in strong financial shape
By Lynn Volkens
Black Hawk’s City Council met the afternoon of June 26, 2013. Mayor David Spellman and Aldermen Linda Armbright, Paul Bennett, Diane Cales, Jim Johnson, Greg Moates and Benito Torres were present. The Council approved several financial projects, listened to a brief audit presentation and were updated on the City’s current risk of large fire and how that could affect the annual Boomtown! Fireworks show.
Lady Luck Casino Exterior
The Aldermen adopted Resolution 28-2013, approving a Certificate of Appropriateness for the Lady Luck Casino at 340 Main Street to make improvements to the casino’s roof and eastern facade. The existing cedar shake shingles will be replaced with noncombustible metal roofing in a bronze color, similar to that on the western part of the building. Stone veneer on the walls beneath the elevated porch/patio area will be replaced and new wooden handrails installed. Existing pavers along the ramp ways and the porch/patio area will be replaced with stamped concrete dyed “Baja Red” to match the pavers and a new concrete sidewalk with an integrated electric snowmelt system will be installed. The Aldermen indicated that the sidewalk near the bus pull-out should be widened, if possible, from its current 4-foot width. Code requires it to be 8 foot wide, but there are constraints limiting the width in that location. It was thought the width could be increased to five feet.
231 Horn Street
The City received four bids for the construction phase of the City grant-funded rehabilitation of the home at 231 Horn Street: White Construction Group, $720,000; MW Golden, approximately $900,000; Big Valley Construction $499,618; and Whitestone Construction, $452,057. The City’s staff recommended Big Valley based partially on that company having more experience with historic preservation and rehabilitation projects, and also on Big Valley’s ability to accelerate their work schedule to start three weeks earlier than Whitestone, the company with the lowest bid. Big Valley is currently working on other rehabilitation projects within Black Hawk and can work this project into their schedule with a start date of July 8, 2013. The project is expected to be completed in February, 2014. The Aldermen stressed that City staff should evaluate bids mainly on the “rehabilitation,” rather than the “preservation,” focus when dealing with these types of projects. The base bid of $499,618 covers work to the exterior and interior, however does not include several additional options selected by the homeowners, Bill and Dixie Lovingier. The cost of those options, which will be paid for by the Lovingiers, adds $37,746 to the project budget, bringing the total to $537,364.
After discussing the project in Executive Session, the Aldermen later approved the bid and budget for Big Valley, conditioned on exclusion of the part of the contract that covers a patio and rock wall. An easement issue related to that portion of the property must be resolved before that part of the work can proceed.
The independent accounting firm, John Cutler and Associates, completed the City’s 2012 financial audit and provided a written and verbal report. Uli Keeley, of the Cutler firm, told the Council there had been no problems with the audit. In summary, the audit report states Black Hawk is in “a strong financial position, in spite of a less than stable economy.” The City’s assets, at $115,026,413 (net position), exceeded liabilities. Governmental funds totaled $21,525,377 at the end of 2012 (compared to $26,680,659 at the end of 2011). The City finished 2012 with an unassigned fund balance of $8,484,885. Black Hawk’s largest revenue stream is generated by gaming device fees. In 2012, the City collected $7,285,442 (compared to $7,673,775 in 2011). State gaming taxes contributed $6,770,143 in 2012, down from $7,112,195 in 2011. Funds designated for historic preservation and restoration, also generated by state gaming taxes and distributed through the Colorado Historical Society, amounted to $3,387,232. In 2011, the historic preservation and restoration funds totaled $3,557,150. The decrease in revenue from each of these sources was about 5% from 2011 to 2012. The total cost of services in 2012 was $16,953,828 (compared to 2011, $17,008.913). For more information, including financial data related to specific funds, the 105-page report is available in its entirety online at http://cityofblackhawk.org.
Green Lake Pipeline/Phase III
The Aldermen selected Davis Custom Welding to replace 315 feet of the Green Lake inflow pipeline. Davis had done the work on the first two phases of the project. Green Lake is jointly owned by Black Hawk (63%) and Clear Creek County (37%). The parties have been working on improvements, beginning in 2010 with replacement of the outflow pipe, reservoir pump station and 1,400 feet of inflow pipeline that delivers water from Leavenworth Creek to Green Lake. In 2012, 630 additional feet of the inflow pipeline was replaced. The entire inflow pipeline is approximately 3,000 feet in length. Two bids had been received: American Civil Constructors, $110,180; and Davis Custom Welding, $67,461. The City’s share of the cost is $42,500 and Clear Creek County’s share is $24,961.
Training for School of Mines and U.S. Army
City Manager Jack Lewis told the Council that the group of emergency responders from Washington D.C., as well as those from the School of Mines, who come to Black Hawk every year to train on firefighting and mine extrication skills, are very appreciative of the City’s training facility atop Miners Mesa. The training exercise is “pretty impressive,” Lewis said, “and good for our department, too, to keep our skills up.” Several of the Aldermen expressed interest in watching the exercise next year.
2013 Fireworks Still On – And Set to Music
Black Hawk’s annual Boomtown! 4th of July fireworks display has not been cancelled. The decision on whether or not to cancel the show will be made on the 4th of July, based on the environmental conditions at that time. City Manager Lewis said that he and Black Hawk Fire Chief, Don Taylor, are tracking those conditions daily. Taylor provided the website they use, www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/outlooks.htm. At the time of this meeting, the City of Black Hawk was in a “green” zone, meaning little or no risk of large fire. Factors such as moisture content, fuel load, humidity, etc. all play into the fire risk determination. Lewis warned the Council that “if conditions get hot, real dry and windy, we may still have to make a decision that we do not want to make,” (i.e. – cancelling the show). Taylor concurred, adding, “We’ll have to make a decision ‘go or no go’ on that day.” If the show is a “go,” Central City and Timberline firefighters will join Black Hawk’s firefighters, to help with fire protection and safety during the show.
Last year, the City cancelled the show due to the high risk of forest fire. The Council later donated $32,000 (half of the 2012 fireworks budget) to victims of last summer’s wildfires. As Black Hawk was contractually bound to pay the remainder to the fireworks contractor, the Council elected to have a fall fireworks display on Columbus Day weekend. Black Hawk has budgeted $72,000 for this year’s show.
The 2013 fireworks show has been set to music. This is a first. The City’s IT wizard, Jeff Young, showed the Aldermen how the music could be live-streamed to i-phones and other electronic devices. Black Hawk has no city-wide loudspeaker system, so the problem, Young said, was how to get the music around the city. They’ll try live-streaming via the internet and see how it works. The casinos have agreed to play the music through their own in-house systems and the City will put speakers outside where possible. Others can access the music through their individual electronic devices via http://cityofblackhawk.org.
Following the business meeting, the Aldermen met with City Attorney Corey Hoffmann to discuss matters related to property, matter(s) possibly requiring negotiation and matters related to potential litigation and potential legislation. They returned to public session to approve the contract for 231 Horn Street, mentioned above.
Black Hawk City Council meets next on July 10, 2013.