Central City Fire Department future discussed

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Council meets for work session and regular meeting

By David Josselyn

Work Session

The Central City Council met for a work session to consider options for the future of the Central City Fire Department. The Fire Department has one paid employee, Chief Gary Allen, and the rest are volunteers. The current coverage area does not include outer areas such as Russell Gulch also referred to as “no man’s land,” although the fire department does respond to calls out there as a courtesy. The trucks are on average 31 years old. The main station in Central City is not designed to handle the size of modern engines and does not meet many safety codes. Instead, the fire department uses the Apex building on Apex road owned by Gilpin County. The City does not pay rent and uses the facility in exchange for answering calls. This agreement could change at the County’s discretion forcing Central City to find a new structure to house most fire operations. The current budget for the fire department, about $300,000, is enough to maintain current operations, but has no room for capital improvements, expansion, or additions. The Council was presented with three other options than status quo; one that can fund the department including capital improvements, one that creates a District and expands coverage into no man’s land, and one that considers absorption into the Timberline Fire District. All three options would require additional revenue in the form of raising property taxes and in one case sales taxes. All Council members agreed that they must look beyond the status quo and directed to staff to move forward with options to help the fire department. Staff will come back to the Council with options after a study is completed.

Regular Council Meeting

The Central City Regular Council Meeting of Tuesday, March 7, convened at 7:10 p.m. in the Gilpin County Courthouse. Council members; Jeff Aiken, Judy Laratta, Shirley Voorhies, and Mayor Kathy Heider were present. In attendance for Staff were City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Finance Director Abigail Adame, City Manager Daniel Miera, Community Development Director Ray Rears, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and County Sheriff Captain Tom Ihme. Director Adame took over duties as City Clerk in Bechtel’s absence. Reba Bechtel was absent due to City election matters.

Mayor Heider 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.

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of minutes from the February 21 and March 21 meetings and regular bill lists through March 22. Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The motion passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Heider 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 this time.

BID Option

Manager Miera and Attorney McAskin tag-team reviewed the second reading of Ordinance 17-02 which would amend Ordinance 98-29 regarding the organizing of a Business Improvement District (BID). The amendment changes confusing and conflicting language referring to businesses outside the district being mandatory members of the BID. The new language would give businesses outside the BID and within City Limits the option to join the BID or not. Should a property zoned as residential that lies within the district be rezoned commercial, they would still be mandatory members of the BID.

Mayor Heider opened the floor for public hearing; however, no one chose to address the Council.

Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve the second reading of Ordinance 17-02 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The Ordinance passed unanimously.

More to Plan

A vacancy on the Planning Commission had two applicants; Jackie Mitchell and Sharon Cate. The council recommended and accepted Sharon Cate for the vacancy.

Parkway Access Code Changes

Attorney McAskin introduced Ordinance 17-03 which would amend Article VII of Chapter 8 of the Municipal Code regarding annexing property into the City when access is granted from the Central City Parkway. The current Code has language that requires the City to annex a property and the proposed amendment would change the responsibility to the property owner to apply for annexation for the City and the BID to consider granting or not.

Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 17-03 setting the second reading and public hearing for April 18, 2017, and was seconded by Alderman Aiken.

Staff Updates

Mayor Heider inquired about the progress of restoring City Hall from the flood damage causing the Council to meet in the County Courthouse. Manager Miera stated that they are ahead of schedule and anticipate finishing by the end of April.

Council Comments

Alderwoman Laratta stated for the record, “I love the fire department and I feel safe and secure for 25 years now. I wish for only good things for our fire department and if you hear rumors otherwise; they are not true.”

Alderwoman Voorhies reported that she has received phone calls asking for something to change with the dangerous intersection of Spring and Nevada Streets. More than one person reported that if they had not had wheels on the sidewalk, they would have been hit. Manager Miera responded that the Staff is already looking at both long-term changes and short-term interim solutions for that intersection.

Alderwoman Voorhies reported that House Bill 17-1242 has passed the House and is in front of the state senate. The bill, if passed, would place on the November’s ballot a question to raise taxes to help fund transportation projects and road repairs. The current version would have about 75% of revenues raised go back to the counties for road repairs.

Mayor Heider reported that the sign across from the Reserve Casino is falling into disrepair and it will disappear if nothing is done. The sign in question is a sign installed by the late Lew Cady with tongue-in-cheek statistics about the town. Manager Miera responded that they can go ahead and pull it to get it out of the elements and either restore it to put it back or replace it with something similar when they install wayfinding signs.

Public Forum

Mayor Heider opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. Joe Behm, Executive Director of the BID chose to address the Council.

Behm stated that he attends the I-70 Coalition meetings and it was reported that CDOT is looking into widening the Floyd Hill interchange for a peak-time lane inclusion. One of the options for traffic flow is using Exit 243 which would directly impact Central City businesses. The plan is still in the discussion and consultation stage and nothing is definite.

Behm next addressed the tax issue for raising revenue for the Fire Department. He stated that the City of Golden consider a very similar increase for the same reasons, but ultimately tabled it. One of their considerations was that another tax issue would be on the ballot and it might make theirs less likely to pass.

Mark your calendars

Mayor Heider adjourned the regular meeting at 7:44 p.m. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

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