Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes December 18, 2007

Littleton City Council Regular Meeting

18 December 2007

 Scheduled Appearances

Littleton Relay for Life – a cancer fighting group – will be holding their annual run at Hudson Gardens August 1-2 from 6pm to 7:30 am (a run through the night because cancer does not sleep).  For more information go to www.rfllittleton.com.

 

Forest Guardians and the Prairie Dog Coalition – A group of students from Ken Caryl presented some interesting facts about prairie dogs.  Did you know that there are no ground hogs living in the west?  They asked the Council to declare February 2nd Prairie Dog Day.  A few other cities have done so and the group will be asking Gov. Ritter to do the same.  Action will be taken later in the meeting.

 Unscheduled Appearances

Elwood Johnsen thanked whoever is responsible for putting up the Christmas lights at Marathon Oil.  The Fremont neighbors have enjoyed them.

 Consent Agenda

The Council approved:

  • The engagement of Swanhorst & Company, LLC to audit the City’s financial records for the year ending 12/31/2007.  This will be the last year they are eligible as the Charter limits the number of years the same firm can perform the audit to 5 years. 

 

The auditor will be performing the audit a little differently this year.  The Certified Annual Financial Report (CAFR) will be completed by May 31st and the Annual Financial Statements will be completed by March 31st as called for in the Charter.  It is possible that some of the figures on the financial report will have to be adjusted upon completion of the CAFR but getting the financials to the Council much earlier than in prior years will give the Council better information for preparing the 2009 budget.

 

Jim Taylor was concerned about whether or not Englewood would have the sewer audit completed in time for Littleton to get its audit done by the deadlines outlined.  Doug Clark said it was important to get the audit completed earlier than in the past because of the possible TABOR issues that may arise.  If there were TABOR excesses the Council would need the time to determine what they were going to do about the excess.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

  • The first Council meeting of the New Year will be Jan. 15th.  (The Jan 1st meeting is cancelled.)  Motion passed 7/0.
  • The renewal of the franchise agreement with Xcel was approved on first reading.

      Motion passed 7/0.

  Second and Final Reading

  • The Enclave rezoning and general PD plan was postponed indefinitely.  Richmond Homes has withdrawn their application.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

  • An ordinance to authorize the sale of $950,000 refunding revenue bonds for the Rocky Mountain Center for the Blind was approved.  A Resolution authorizing the negotiated sale of the same bond was also approved.  This has no financial impact on the City of Littleton but will give the Center a lower interest rate than they currently have and additional funds.  The loan is between the Center and Wells Fargo Bank.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

  • An ordinance to amend the 2007 budget by:

ü      Increasing the General Fund $21,705 for expenditures related to South Platte Park

ü      The Special Revenue Fund increased by $557,157 for reimbursement for Wildland Fires.

ü      Increasing the South Metro Area Communications Center Fund by $31,000 for dispatcher overtime.

  

Debbie Brinkman asked about the $1,000 for the replacement of decking at the Carson Nature Center.  She thought the deck was only a year old and wondered if the repairs were due to vandalism.  If so, wasn’t there insurance money that could pay for the repairs?  Staff did not know the answer to her question – they will get back with a response.

 

Peggy Cole mentioned that the dispatcher overtime costs was erratic and it appears that not enough has been budgeted in 2008.  Jim Woods said he has asked Chief Mullins to come back with a more consistent trend line in the overtime budget.

 

Clark amended the motion to change the language so it would match the specific line item in the budget where the increases were being made so it would be easier to follow the changes when looking back on the budget.  The motion passed 7/0

 

  • Quit Claim Deed of Utility Easement around Littleton Station was approved 7/0.

 General Business

Purchase of Artwork – A motion was made to approve a contract to purchase by the Fine Arts Committee a $41,200 piece of artwork that will be displayed in front of the Museum.  The piece is called “Free Flow” and can be used to display banners from as well as being a stand alone piece.  Brinkman asked about the cost of lighting and the cost of banners on an annual basis.  Tim Nimz, Museum Director, said it generally costs about 10% of the project for the lighting and other requirements beyond what is in the contract.  The use of banners will only occur a few times per year at a cost of a few hundred dollars.

 

Brinkman asked if other groups could make use of the artwork for their message banners and Nimz said the Fine Arts Committee has not considered that possibility yet. Motion passed 7/0.

 

PEG Fees – The council was considering an expenditure of up to $75,758 with an additional 30% contingency to cover the costs of equipping the community room for live broadcasting of council study sessions. 

 

Taylor wanted to clarify how many meetings had been budgeted for in the 2008 budget.  Are we adding 3 or 2 additional meetings per month?

 

Kelli Narde said two Planning Commission meetings per month were included and it would be up to the Council which meetings and how many would be broadcast.  The Planning Commission doesn’t always meet two times per month.

 

Tom Mulvey wondered how long it would be to get the room equipped.  Narde said with the holidays about 6 to 8 weeks.

 

Brinkman asked if we had asked for other bids as she only saw one.  Narde said the equipment in the room had been cobbled together over the years and CEAVCO knows the system as they have installed every piece. 

 

Brinkman thought it would be prudent to get other estimates – she was concerned about the 30% contingency.

 

Narde explained that when they installed the overhead document camera it cost an additional $17,000 because the electrical box had to be upgraded.

 

Clark thought there was about $120,000 currently in the PEG account.  Woods said he thought that was a close estimate.  Clark said if we go over the appropriated amount we can come back and amend the appropriation.

 

Mulvey said CEAVCO is very well respected company.

 

Woods said he appreciated Brinkman’s point but in these high tech areas the Charter will allow for a sole source contract.  The last time they put a bid out CEAVCO was the only business to respond.  It would take a substantial amount of time to develop bid specs and cause a substantial delay.

 

Ostermiller wondered if the PA system really fits into the definition of how the PEG fee can be spent.

 

Woods said it was directly related to the broadcast and Ostermiller disagreed.  A PA system is for the audience in the room to be able to hear well.

 

Clark said he agreed with Ostermiller.  There has been sound issues in the room for a number of years and suggested that the PA system be paid for with funds other than PEG fees.

 

Mulvey, who has championed this issue for years, moved that the council spend the PEG money to equipment the community room for live broadcasting.  Clark seconded the motion.

 

Ostermiller offered an amendment to pay for the cost of the PA system with funds from another budget at the City Manager’s discretion.  Clark seconded his motion.  Motion on the amendment passed 7/0.

 On the main motion Taylor said he would vote against it as he was philosophically opposed to spending the money when requests were made for personnel during the budget process that could not be filled.  (Remember, the PEG money can’t be spent on anything but equipment related to broadcasting meetings for Comcast subscribers – it is money the subscribers have paid.) 

Motion passed 6/1 with Taylor dissenting.

 City Council Workshop

The dates have been set for February 8th and 9th at the Museum.  The topics for discussion have to be established.

 

Brinkman suggested the 2030 plan needed to be talked about at length.  What’s going on with development in Littleton?  McStain has pulled out of River’s Edge, the Marathon Oil property is just sitting, and Richmond Homes has just withdrawn their application for the Enclave.  While individually they are not devastating, collectively we need to pay attention.  We need to have an honest debate on the direction of this city council – we are not rolling up the carpet and locking the doors to Littleton.

 

Taylor said that would tie into number 2 on the memo that they had received from Woods – land use and redevelopment.

 

Ostermiller talked about the Structured Revenue Study that would look at projected revenues and expenditures for the next 25 years but on a yearly basis.  There are trends that show there is more disposable income for services and less for goods.  This will affect our revenues. 

 

Woods said R2Anaysis, a consultant, is preparing something for their workshop.  The Council could spend time hearing specifics about their analytical process.  The Council will be getting a report from BIAAC on January 8th and they will raise some of the same issues which will tie into your workshop.

 

Taylor agreed that they should look into long range plans and how it will tie into land use.

 

Clark said he was highly skeptical of anyone’s ability to project revenue streams.  He is concerned about the 2030 Plan and Planning Commission and the role of the Council – that discussion needs to happen.  Clark also wants to look at the space needs of the police and how to finance any proposals.  He asked Woods if the staff could be ready for that discussion in early February.

 

Woods said they could have a “refresher course” ready to deliver to the new council.  Also, we have a new Police Chief so there maybe some new information.

 

Clark said the most complex issue they have before them this next year will be the disposition of the Water Fund.   There are legal issues – if we refund it how do we do it – if we keep it how do we do that and what will it be used for – will there be an election to cure this problem.  It will take time to prepare and explain to the public what is on the ballot if we think we may have an election.  When would the election be held?  We need to take a stab at this at the workshop.

 

Cole wanted to discuss downtown parking issues.

 

Clark asked Woods if he could be ready to discuss the Water Fund at the workshop or would it be better to do it at another time.

 

Woods said the background work has been done but the legal issues have not been resolved.  It depends on how much parsing you want done before a decision is made.

 

Clark moved to have the staff issue a memo to bring the new council up to speed on the water fund as expeditiously as possible.  Mulvey seconded and motion passed 7/0.

 

Taylor moved that they discuss land use and the Structured Revenue Study at the workshop.  Brinkman seconded.

 

Mulvey wanted Brinkman’s 2030 request to be included in the workshop.  Clark said they are part of the land use discussion.

 

Woods said the staff could be ready to discuss the 2030 Plan at the workshop based on the BIAAC report and the Planning Commissioner’s input.

 

Ostermiller amended the motion to include an update on the status of the police facility and a process for setting priorities for the 2009 budget and that they meet all-day on the 8th and half day on the 9th.

 

Clark asked that they vote on Taylor’s motion first which passed 7/0.

 

Ostermiller repeated his motion and Cole seconded.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

Clark moved that they set aside 1 or 2 hours to discuss the topics for their study sessions and their outreach schedule.  Ostermiller seconded.  Brinkman asked if it was possible to ask those that are scheduled if there really is a benefit for them and are they interested in continuing the meetings.  Perhaps they could accomplish the same thing with a ½ hour presentation at a council meeting.  She would like to cull the schedule down.

 

Clark’s motion passed 7/0.

 

Woods talked a bit about the outreach schedule.  The Historic Preservation Board (HPB) will not be available on Jan 22 but the Planning Commission is.  The March 25th meeting with CBAC won’t happen since the CBAC no longer exists.  Both of our state legislators are serving in Iraq so that’s off the list.

 

Cole said the HPB would prefer to meet in the evenings.  Ostermiller said some of the government groups bring a lot of staff so the morning meetings work best for them.  He did not think they would get a good turn out from the high school leaders if the meeting was in the evening.

 

The Council concluded with a motion to schedule a few of their 2nd and 4th Tuesday meetings but to tell you the truth it was too hard to follow without a score card so I hesitate to give you dates and subjects at this time.  I will follow up with accurate information once I have it.  The motion did pass 7/0.

 Executive Sessions

Clark mentioned that a citizen expressed the possibility of the previous Council transgressing the boundary of what is private and what is public in their executive session to discuss the City Manager’s salary.

 

Clark said he was inclined to turn the record of the meeting over to a Judge and let him decide. Cole seconded the motion. 

 

Brad Bailey said that’s a problem.  The law gives the citizen but not the local public body the opportunity to make the request.  Cole withdrew her second. 

 

Clark said Bailey had written a memo that explained the intricacies of the Open Meetings Law as it pertains to personnel issues and he thought it would benefit the council to release it to the public.

 

Brinkman moved to remove the attorney/client privilege on the December 13, 2007 memo regarding disclosure of executive session on personnel matters.  Cole seconded.

 

Bailey said he would be careful on waiving their attorney/client privilege.  If this was a matter of litigation his blood pressure would be way up. 

 

Cole asked how do they “release it”.  Bailey said if someone asked for a copy it would be given to them.

 

Ostermiller asked if someone goes to District Court to ask for clarification on the matter in question, could this memo be used by them.

 

Bailey said yes.

 

Ostermiller moved that they convene into an executive session to consult with their attorney on a legal question.  Mulvey seconded the motion which passed on a 7/0 vote.

 

When they returned Clark said there was a motion on the floor and asked for discussion.

 

Taylor said he would not be voting in favor of this motion.  It is risky anytime the Council goes against a memo marked confidential and it will lead to trouble for Council if they disregard their attorney.

 

Ostermiller said he would also vote no.  This is a privileged document and can be used against the Council once it is made public.  The attorney/client privilege is very sacred and he did not believe in releasing any information the attorney gives them.

 

Clark said he would be voting yes.  He is striving to prevent misinformation on the Council’s part and on the public’s part.  It is very difficult to ascertain at what point in time you cross the boundary on what should be discussed in public.  This memo is a tool that will help both the citizens and us to determine where that line is.  I see a potential benefit for us to have a Judge look at this – it would help us to do a better job.  Clark was not in favor of releasing all attorney/client privilege memos.

 

Motion failed 3/4 with Ostermiller, Taylor, Mulvey and Trujillo dissenting.

 

Ostermiller said he did not know what the perceived violation was.

 

Cole made the motion to declare February 2nd Prairie Dog Day in Littleton.  Jose Trujillo seconded.  There wasn’t an understanding of what declaring Prairie Dog Day really meant.  Motion failed on a 3/4 vote with Brinkman, Ostermiller, Taylor and Mulvey dissenting.

 Reports

Cole reported that some progress has been made on opening communications.  The staff will be working to make documents more readable by limiting the use of acronyms or by defining all acronyms used.  The tentative agendas for the Council and Planning Commission will be posted online as well as study session agendas.  The minutes of all board and commissions will be posted in a timely manner online.  A hard copy of the entire Council packet (excluding confidential material) will be made available at the City Center and Bemis by noon on Friday preceding the meetings.  Research is underway on a list service.

 

Taylor reported that the Littleton Housing Authority paid their penalty on their late sewer payment – to the tune of $7,000!

 

Ostermiller said the subcommittee of the Council met to discuss the hiring process for a new city attorney.  They will meet again this Friday.  They have a job description from Boulder and Lakewood that they are reviewing.  They will be meeting with a consultant that aids in this type of search to hear how they can assist in the process.  It will most likely take until June to make a selection.  The subcommittee will be meeting on a weekly basis.

 

Brinkman attended her first South Platte Working Group meeting.  It was very exciting to see the plans and the number of groups that are working together.  She also mentioned her sighting of two Bald Eagles along the South Platte by the Carson Nature Center.  In the five years that she has walked the trails she has never seen a Bald Eagle before.

 

Trujillo said the downtown area was out of gas power from 11:45am on Friday until 4:55pm.  It was a very cold day and he got a lot of complaints from people downtown.  On Saturday there was a power outage at 4:30pm until 6:30pm.  That along with the train wreck had lots of people upset.  He said no one took the time to notify the folks about the outages.  Notification would have been nice.

 

Clark passed out a hand out created by someone from the Pub Forum.  It was a guide to citizens on how to address the Council plus more.  He asked for their comments.

 

He announced that Qwest was no longer interested in an IT TV franchise.

 

Clark asked if medical parts were taxed the same way automobile parts are taxed.  Woods didn’t know but would research the tax code to see if they are taxable or exempt.

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