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Central City adopts budget, reviews projects

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Mayor Complements City Manager and Finance Director

By David Josselyn

Work Session

Council met with Students from CU Denver and CU Boulder for a Work Session immediately prior to the regular meeting on Tuesday, December 3, 2019, for presentations on three projects for the City; a trails system, the Masonic Building, and recreational economy. Mayor Fey was not in attendance until the final presentation due to prior obligations.

Trails Project

Presenting for the trails project were Rasheed Ajao, Brandon Arndt, Ivan Casillas, Angel Cazares, Daniel Delgado, Daniel Scherman, and Mitchell Sforzini. This team was tasked to develop plans for a trail connecting the historic district to the William C Russell Park. The completely ADA compliant path would run from the Opera House parking lot (across from the Gilpin County Courthouse) up Prosser Gulch to the William C Russell Park. The path parallels Eureka Street occasionally meandering behind private property, although the majority of the land is owned by the City. The plans include water channeling to prevent erosion, retaining walls, crosswalks, and two bridges. The final estimated cost to construct the trail system is just over $3 million dollars.

Masonic Lodge Project

Presenting for the Masonic Lodge project were Mohammad Alhashel, Tara Brodie, Ryan Dillabough, Diana Garcia, Nate Hultslander, and Dinesh Raj Pant, E.I. The Masonic building was originally built in 1862 and survived the great Central City fire of 1874. The building has suffered from water damage causing structural concerns over the years, but has great historical significance and value and also houses the original Weekly Register-Call printing presses and hot lead typesetters. The team assessed needs for preservation for future accommodation and recommended feasible plans for its preservation. On the main floor, there is more than a five-inch differential from its highest and lowest point with the worst movement on the southwest corner of the building. The differential coincides with cracking and deterioration both outside and inside the structure in the same corner. The structural damage is almost exclusively due to water damage, and so the team focused their strategies around this issue. Recommendations include installing a sump pump, a geomembrane, and a dewatering pump; additionally, a crack monitoring device that would measure changes in cracks over time. The first half of the second floor is adequate for use, but the back half does not comply with codes of occupancy. The estimates for repairs total just over $1.4 million dollars; however, broken down in order of priority, only $27 thousand needs to be spent for immediate and short-term concerns with the remaining for long-term preservation.

Recreational Project

Presenting for the recreational economy project were Grace Carlin, Jing Liu, Haylee Rea, Allison Sturm, and Amanda Tollberg. This team was tasked to determine a plan to generate non-gaming revenue for the City through recreation. The team believes there is an urgent need to attract new visitors by focusing on the outdoor recreation industry which also serves its residents by providing connectivity and recreational activities. Three projects were proposed involving adding trails and parks to the area. The least costly is developing a “historic spine trail” which would be the base for a what could be a much larger network. The trail would be accessible by children and people with disabilities and highlight the historical aspects of the town. The trail would include “pocket parks” consisting of small pockets of land transformed into comfortable meeting and resting areas and would encourage visitors to stay in the area. The second project would be developing small-scale improvements around the Chase Reservoir such as picnic areas, trails, signage, and play equipment. The third project would be to build a continuous loop trail around the reservoir which would allow other hiking trails to intersect. The costs of the projects were given to council only, but will be posted on the City’s web page at www.colorado.gov/centralcity in the next few days for public viewing.

Council gave no indication whether they would follow-up on any of these ideas, but all members expressed gratitude for the work the students put into these projects. Several members of the audience, including resident Alan Tiefenbach, expressed excitement at the prospect of these projects being pursued.

Regular Council Meeting

Mayor Fey convened the regular meeting at 7:28 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members; Jeff Aiken, Judy Laratta, Jackie Johnson, Jack Hidahl, and Mayor Jeremy Fey were present. In attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Finance Director Abigail Robbins, City Manager Daniel Miera, Community Development Director Ray Rears, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Utilities Director Jack Beard, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and County Sheriff Division Chief Tom Ihme.

Mayor Fey led the Pledge of Allegiance and then asked for any amendments or additions to the evening’s agenda. There were no additions or amendments to the agenda.

Mayor Fey asked if there were any conflicts of interest for any member of the council. There were no conflicts expressed.

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the November 19 meeting, regular bill lists through November 22, and the fourth addendum to the City Manager Employment Agreement. Alderman Hidahl asked about an ambulance subsidy contribution of $12,343 on the bills list and Manager Miera reported this is their standard contribution. Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on the agenda. No one chose to speak to the Council at that time.

Planning Commission Appointment

The Council considered an application for alternate to the Planning Commission by Marcia Enloe. Ms. Enloe submitted a letter stating, “I have reviewed the position requirements and I believe I can meet all of them. Please consider me for the appointment o the Central City Planning Commission.” She made no comments regarding what her qualifications were or why she would be a good choice for the Council to appoint. Ms. Enloe was present and came to the podium, but had nothing to say. Mayor Fey stated he had two questions when he read the agenda item, “Do I know you? And Thank you!” Marcia responded that she was co-owner of the Mountain Menagerie and she owns a home on one of the High streets. Alderwoman Johnson asked why she wanted to be on the Planning Commission to which Ms. Enloe replied, “It sounds like fun, something I’m interested in and learning about the community.” Alderman Hidahl noted that he is familiar with her home and said, “You have a very interesting sign on your door, something about warrants?” Marcia responded that she found the sign in Idaho Springs and it says, “Come back with a warrant!” This statement caused many to laugh and Division Chief Tom Ihme spoke up from the back of the room, “So noted!”

Alderman Aiken moved to approve the appointment of Marcia Enloe as alternate to the Planning Commission and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.

Creative Accounting for Water

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-32 which would approve a General Fund purchase of Development Fee Credits from the Water Enterprise Fund for issuance to a City Economic Development Incentive program. This allows the City to purchase future development fee credits from the Enterprise Fund and the money reduces the debt of the Enterprise Fund. The funds for the purchase come from the unreserved balance of the General Fund.

Alderman Aiken moved to approve Resolution 19-32 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.

Amending 2019s Budget

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-33 which would amend the adopted 2019 Budget. This item was noted on the public agenda to be introduced by Finance Director Abigail Robbins; however, it was decided prior to the meeting that Miera would present both this and the following Resolution to Council. Mayor Fey commented on the change saying, “I know that you are both intimately involved.” He immediately revised what he said after several guffaws from the audience adding, “In the budget, I mean.” The Mayor’s remark was in no way intended to imply anything outside of regular co-worker cooperation. Manager Miera began explaining Resolution 19-34 until he was corrected by Attorney McAskin, who noted that he was explaining the wrong resolution, and then correctly reviewed Resolution 19-33 for Council. This Resolution allows appropriations to match, or not to exceed, actual appropriations during the year. Alderman Hidahl questioned changes to the beginning fund balance and increases in revenues. Manager Miera explained that the change in balance was a direct result of the audited financials and that the increase in revenues is from the General Fund and the Enterprise Water Fund.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve Resolution 19-33 and was seconded by Alderwoman Johnson. The Resolution passed unanimously.

2020 Budget is Adopted

Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-34 which would adopt and appropriate the 2020 Budget, adopt the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan, set a Property Tax Mill Levy, and approve the Central City Business Improvement Operating Plan and Budget. Miera added that there are two changes to the BID’s budget that should be noted for a motion; one is a misspelled word (Bridge Street) and the other is the incorrect continuation of accruing interest on the bonds for the Parkway. Alderman Hidahl commented, “There are a number of things I like about this budget. It is a strong budget. We have created a fund balance that would be equal to or greater than 20% of the general fund expenditures. If something were to go terribly wrong and all the roads were closed, we have the wherewithal to continue services.” Inflation and interest are the two things that destroy capital and doing away with that “is wonderful.” Hidahl also proposed a name change to one account which would not change the balance or how the money is used. The account is intended to use for residential property grants on historic buildings to help residents maintain expensive homes. The management of the fund is still being determined and there will be a work session or two to determine how it is to be used.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve Resolution 19-34 and was seconded by Alderwoman Johnson. The Resolution passed unanimously.

A Shorter Sentence

Attorney McAskin reviewed the second reading of Ordinance 19-10 which would amend certain sections of the Municipal Code concerning maximum jail sentencing for traffic offenses. This is a complementary Ordinance to Ordinance 19-09 which was passed earlier this year. The language changes from “one year” to “364 days” to be in accord with the State Law.

Mayor Fey opened the public forum, but no one chose to address Council.

Alderman Aiken moved to approve Ordinance 19-10 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Ordinance passed unanimously.

Staff Reports

Manager Miera commented on special work sessions and the use of public safety funds. Miera requested feedback on how they schedule special work sessions (outside of regular meeting days and/or times). Council directed staff to establish Tuesdays on off weeks as times for extra work sessions that can be anticipated with the understanding that if an emergency work session is needed any day can be used.

Council Comments

Alderman Aiken commented, “It’s great we got these grants and our fiscal well-being is getting better every year.”

Alderwoman Laratta commented, “Kudos to Abigail (Robbins) and Daniel (Miera) for the budget. I remember my first budget five years ago; it gave me a brain hemorrhage and sleepless nights.” Laratta went on the complement the Water Department saying, “It has come so far it is amazing.”

Mayor Fey commented that he was at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame inductions in Denver prior to the meeting, “and I believe we are going to get the Opera House inducted in the 2020 Hall of Fame.” He also said he is trying to get next year’s ceremony hosted up here. Fey also commented about the upcoming Tommyknocker’s event saying, “I love the community potluck we are going to have on Friday. It’s a real special time.”

Alderman Johnson commented on the Tommyknocker event laying out the schedule. The tree lighting will be at 6:30 p.m. followed by caroling up the street to the Teller House where the community potluck begins at 6:45. There will be an ugly sweater contest and the Peak to Peak Chorale will be entertaining. The Bazaar is on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. respectively.

Alderman Hidahl commented, “I observed Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office monitoring traffic on the Parkway; not only that, but also the Idaho Springs Police Department; where does that ticket revenue go?” Manager Miera responded that they have concurrent jurisdiction on the first mile and a half. “They operate quite a bit from there.” A discussion ensued on how much patrolling was public safety versus a “cash grab.” Hidahl then commented on a related issue of the speed limit on the Parkway saying, “The speed limit on the Parkway doesn’t make sense.” He wondered if they should get a professional evaluation. Manger Miera responded that the BID just had an engineer do a study earlier this year and there was only one small section in which the limit could be raised by five mph. Alderman Hidahl made a final comment suggesting that the resolution setting aside a certain percentage of gaming tax dollars for the Belvidere Theatre renovations should be extended another four years.

Public Forum

Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. No one chose to address the Council.

Mark your calendars

Mayor Fey adjourned the regular meeting at 9:08 p.m. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

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