Fire Chief Gary Allen Honored
By David Josselyn
Central City Council met with Staff for a Work Session at 5:35 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Topics of discussion were the 2020 Preliminary Budget, bear awareness, and a joint meeting with CCBID Board of Directors.
Manager Miera highlighted several changes in the first draft of the preliminary budget including the addition of a Public Safety fund. The fund was created in response to the passage of a two percent sales tax by voters in 2018 in which funds would go directly to public safety and primarily benefit the fire department. During the budget discussion, Alderwoman Johnson voiced her strong recommendation to establish an emergency fund for Gilpin Ambulance Authority (GAA). Johnson sits on the board for GAA and reports that they do not have any funding for internal emergencies, such as replacing an ambulance. Instead, they rely on surrounding entities to help fund unexpected costs. No other entity has established a fund earmarked for GAA and Central City could be the first.
Community Coordinator Zeke Keeler reported to council that bears are an increasing problem due to waste disposal issues. There are currently no regulations for residents about how to store waste and what types of receptacles, so that open containers are attracting wildlife, although there are rules about what hours you can put out and take in your trash on pickup days. Keeler asked the City if they would want to impose a program. After some discussion on bear-proof receptacles, hours of pickup, and community responsibility, the Council directed staff to bring some ideas for solutions for their consideration.
Joint Meeting with BID
The Council conducted a joint workshop with the Business Improvement District Board of Directions to consider three issues: the ramifications of the sports betting proposition (DD) put before voters this November; Central City Parkway lighting; and economic development. Executive Director Joe Behm chaired the meeting for the BID.
Proposition DD and City Issue 2A would approve sports betting in the previously established gaming communities of Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek. The proposition allows for three types of sports betting: brick and mortar where participants would be required to places bets inside an establishment; kiosk betting where participants could interact with a kiosk to place a bet; and mobile betting which would require participants to sign up at a brick and mortar establishment, but could then place bets wherever they choose from their own phone or other device. The BID does not anticipate revenues to “be amazing,” although there will be an uptick the month after the law goes into effect, but it would taper off. The busiest times for sports betting would be on Sundays, special events, and during March Madness. Behm said it will take the Division of Gaming several months to work through all the rules and regulations for mobile betting and they do not expect that ability until next May. Mayor Fey asked if you have to be at a brick and mortar establishment to sign up for mobile betting, or could you sign up from a brick and mortar website? Behm responded that you must be at an establishment, because they would never know if “it was your daughter” on the website. The BID neither supported nor opposed the Proposition. If Proposition DD passes and City Issue 2A does not, then people would go to Black Hawk and Cripple Creek instead for sports betting.
The BID has been working on a Central City Parkway lighting project to add lights along the remainder of the road (except for a one-mile stretch that is owned by a private entity) and have two bids for the project. One bid came in low from a local company, but they do not install ground lines or a main line. The second bid is from a contractor that works with Xcel Energy and came in about three times more than the first bid, but includes grounding and main lines. The bid exceeds fair cost for the project and the difference between the bids is a lot more than the cost of adding a main line and/or grounding lines. A benefit to the project is that once the poles are up, it would be easy to add cell services for continuous coverage along the Parkway.
The BID proposed the idea of forming an Economic Development Commission as an entity to bolster business friendly perceptions and create strategies to encourage economic growth. Economic Development is not in wheelhouse of either the BID or the City, and since there is no Chamber of Commerce to take on the role, the BID thinks this might be a good idea. The City does not have an economic incentive policy and Behm said that Central City “does not have a reputation for being business friendly.” The Council agreed that a Commission might be a good idea and instructed staff to research some models of Economic Development Commissions from other small municipalities and bring back those examples for consideration.
Regular Council Meeting
Mayor Fey reconvened the regular meeting at 7:15 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members; Mayor Jeremy Fey, Mayor pro-Tempore Judy Laratta, Jeff Aiken, Jack Hidahl, and Jackie Johnson were present. In attendance for Staff were City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Finance Director Abigail Robbins, City Manager Daniel Miera, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Acting Utilities Director Jack Beard, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and County Sheriff Kevin Armstrong. Notably absent was City Clerk Reba Bechtel.
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.
The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the October 1 meeting and regular bill lists through September 30. Alderwoman Johnson moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on that night’s agenda. No one chose to speak to the Council at that time.
Manager Miera introduced Resolution 19-28 which would approve an agreement for municipal prosecution services. The City has had a contract with prosecutor Donna Stewart who has resigned, and this Resolution would have Michow Cox & McAskin perform interim services until a new contract can be established. The City would compensate Michow Cox & McAskin at the same rate as the prior contract with Donna Stewart. Mayor Fey asked of Attorney Marcus McAskin, “Are you offering this because you feel sorry for us or is this something your office would want to step in to fulfill the position?” McAskin replied, “This is something we would want to do and I want to see this work for the City.” Manager Miera commented that there are some court cases that the City has been consulting with Michow Cox & McAskin before Stewart’s resignation and this would be a natural extension of services already being performed. Alderman Hidahl commented, “I would like to see a lot more handled by the municipal court.” He referenced a case last year that went to County Court which Hidahl witnessed and observed that the County prosecutor was so busy, she could not give enough attention to the matter.
Alderman Aiken moved to approved Resolution 19-28 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.
City Attorney McAskin introduced the first reading of Ordinance 19-09 which would repeal and replace section 1-4-20 of the Municipal Code changing the maximum jail sentence for criminal offenses to 364 days instead of one year following changes in state law and change language regarding maximum fines. The change in the State Law was mandated by congress and avoids issues with federal immigration law. The Resolution also changes the maximum fine to a cap of $2,650 instead of an amount adjustable by the CPI index which makes the fine easier to enforce. The City currently does not pursue criminal cases in favor of allowing the County to try them.
Mayor Fey asked, “Are we obfuscating the idea of being tried by a jury of our peers by not supplying a public defender” and sending criminal issues to County which expands the jury pool beyond the City? Manager Miera responded that there are many layers to trying a criminal case that the City is not equipped to handle.
Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 19-09 and set the second reading and public hearing for Tuesday, November 5, 2019, and was seconded by Alderwoman Johnson. The motion passed unanimously.
Petitioning for inclusion in the BID
Attorney McAskin introduced Resolution 19-29 which would approve Amendment 3 to the January 11, 2001 Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Central BID.
Amendment 3 clarifies specific circumstances when the City requires a property owner to petition into the BID which are: rezoning as commercial, requesting access to the Central City Parkway, or acquiring City property for the purposes of commercial taxable use. The City and the BID has disagreed in the past when the City must require a property owner to submit a petition for inclusion into the BID. “I think these circumstances make some sense,” said McAskin, “the BID has already approved this Resolution.” Alderman Hidahl commented, “This removes one of the bones of contention which is building permits. I think it’s pretty straightforward within the intent of the original IGA.” He then said, “My issue is the word ‘substantial,’ who is going to define what that means?” Hidahl is referring to section 3, subparagraph iii which states “seeks an access permit from the City pursuant to the Central City Parkway Access Code… and which will receive ‘substantial’ benefits from the existence…” Attorney McAskin admitted, “That’s a good question.” He gave an example of a commercial property with minimal traffic, “maybe an art studio” which would still get a benefit. That entity would pay a lot less to the BID based on property and sales taxes. Mayor Fey asked, “Why not just drop the word substantial?” Manager Miera explained that all requests for access to the Parkway would have to come before Council and this would allow Council some flexibility in their determination. Alderwoman Laratta commented, “I think it’s a great idea, it makes the BID happy, and I think it will make the bond holders happy to finally have this settled. Let’s do it.”
Alderman Aiken moved to approve Resolution 19-29 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Resolution passed unanimously.
Mayor Fey inquired about the economic development of the space above the Visitors Center. “There was a photographer interested” in that space. Manager Miera responded that the space is still available and “there are no applications.” The second floor of the Visitor’s Center was being utilized by the Gilpin Arts Association as a secondary, year-round gallery, but gave up the use after obtaining heat in Washington Hall. Since then, there has been interest in using that space by other businesses, but nothing has come to fruition. The City is offering that space as a start-up opportunity to help a business get off its feet at minimal cost.
Mayor Fey announced that Hawley Mercantile is moving into the space vacated by Mountain Menagerie.
Alderman Hidahl inquired about the status of the vacant building ordinance. Manager Miera responded that they are still working on the draft. Hidahl commented, “Initially I was concerned with commercial properties, but I have been rethinking that issue regarding residential properties.” He said we have several vacant properties that “I believe are being used by vagrants, some youth have started using one as a clubhouse of sorts.” These issues are a public nuisance and property owners are not keeping tabs on their properties. “I think there needs to be a residential piece” to the ordinance, or a separate ordinance addressing vacant residential properties.
Alderwoman Laratta reported she had a comment but needed a volunteer. She asked Fire Chief Gary Allen to come to the front. “He runs a great department,” said Laratta, “and I would not be here if not for what he and his department did for me one year ago. Thank you!” Laratta handed Chief Allen a donation for the department.
Mayor Fey opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. One person chose to address Council.
President of Gilpin History, Deb Wray, spoke to the Council on the issue of the City’s support and docents. She stated that Gilpin History uses docents to conduct tours of historic buildings in town and for every person that tours the Opera House and St. James Church, one dollar is given to those entities which “Does not leave much for us.” Wray stated the grants Gilpin History receives are tied to how many people utilize the historic buildings and everyone who tours a building is utilizing the building. “If the City sees that they can no longer help us” in next year’s budget, “we will probably have to stop the docents and tours,” reported Wray. She added, “We appreciate all the years you have supported us and for putting our events on the website.”
Mark your calendars
Mayor Fey adjourned the regular meeting at 8:20 p.m. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
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