City Council Meeting Minutes March 4, 2008

Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes

4 March 2008

 Unscheduled Appearances 

Jill Kobe, manager of Aspen Grove, updated the council on tenant changes.  The J. Crew space will be partially leased to Edie Bauer, new tenant Francesca’s will take the rest of the space.  Hot Mama is coming and Sharper Image is leaving.  They are being very selective about leasing the Camille space.  Aspen Grove is a good property with strong interest.  Kobe has been transferred and will be leaving at the end of the month.  She will stay on to help her replacement make the transition.

Jim DuBose thanked the Council for televising all the board and commission interviews on Channel 8.  He was able to watch from the comfort of his living room which he appreciated.  He applauded all the applicants and was impressed by the quality and number of applicants.  In the past, other councils have labored to get others involved and this council seems to be successful in that labor.  He commended the council for not taking the easy way out when it came to conducting the interviews.  Everyone got an honest interview.  He did make a suggestion. The audio portion was poor – at times all council members were difficult to hear.  He ended by saying that the election last year was an indication that the citizens wanted change.  He asked the council to implement that change when it came to selecting the new board and commission members.

Doug Clark told DuBose that they were aware of the audio problems.

Bill Hopping spoke on behalf of the Historic Preservation Board (HPB).  The group would like to have 2 alternates added to their membership.  This would give the alternates time to get up to speed on the intricacies of historic preservation.

Mr. Wallace, VP from Action Care Ambulance, spoke to the upcoming agenda item to rescind the contract between Littleton and Action Care Ambulance.  He has been the point person from Action Care on the Littleton contract.  It has been a passion for him.  He is the one that deals with all the complaints, concerns and issues with the Littleton contract.  He sees the relationship with Littleton as second to none.  He spoke about the continuity of care that only comes from a team effort with Littleton and it has taken years to develop.  He thought it would be a grave mistake to rescind the contract that was approved on Feb. 19th.

Consent Agenda was approved in its entirety on a 7/0 vote.  (You can refer to the official minutes or the agenda posted on the city’s web site for more information.)

 Action Care Contract

Clark introduced a motion to rescind the contract with Action Care that was approved on Feb. 19th.  Clark said information was missing in the communication from staff on the 19th that he felt warranted another look.  He said there was an interim contract with Action Care that did not go before Council for approval, there was no performance data as it relates to the terms of the Action Care contract and it had been 7 years since an RFP was issued.

Clark’s motion was seconded by Debbie Brinkman. 

John Ostermiller called a point of order saying that he did not think reconsideration was appropriate as their rules called for it to be made within 10 days of the original decision and that time had expired.  I don’t know what we can do said Ostermiller.

Clark read from Robert’s Rules of Order that indicated if the wrong decision was made a motion could be made at the next meeting to rescind the decision – which was different than a reconsideration of the motion.  Ostermiller thought the matter should be discussed and possibly call for a suspension of their rules.

Clark said they weren’t suspending the rules.  Ostermiller said the council had approved the contract and that was a binding action.  Clark said that is what rescinding a contract does and ruled that the motion is in order.

Clark said he was upset to find a contract before them that was not what was communicated to them in their material.  He thought the differences between the two contracts should have been communicated.  He also thought that it was inappropriate not to go for an RFP after 7 years.  He would be introducing a follow-up motion to instruct the staff to issue an RFP if his first motion is passed.

Jose expressed concern over a contract where extensions were granted by the fire department without involving the city council.  He thought the Charter had been violated.

A staff member (I think Brad Bailey but not sure) said that the contract automatically renews unless the City gives Action Care a 60 day notice to the contrary.

Peggy Cole asked if it automatically renews why did we have to vote when the old one expired.  She saw significant confusion in the process.  Clark’s motion was an effort to set the process right and it is not a vote against Action Care.

Brad Bailey said the contract was for 1 year with the ability to add another year 4 times unless the City gives notice that they do not want to renew.  He realized that it looked like a 5 year contract in violation of the Charter but in legal terms it wasn’t.  He did not know why the 2005 contract renewal, signed by then Mayor Ostermiller, did not go before the council for approval.

Jim Taylor said the interim contract was signed by the fire department just until they could get the contract before council.  It was a technicality.  He then proceeded to tell the new council members that they didn’t have the experience to make the decision that the old council members had the minute they sit down at the dais.  Action Care knows how to serve Littleton better than a new company.  They meet and exceed the criteria of their contract and the council should honor the agreement made 2 weeks ago.

Ostermiller read a letter from Cindy Hathaway, Board member of the Littleton Fire Protection District, in support of Action Care.  He also said Terry Nolan of the Highlands Ranch Fire Protection District was very happy with Action Care and he saw no reason to spend the money for an RFP.

Cole asked the date of the letter that Ostermiller read into the record.  It wasn’t dated – Chief Mullins said he received the letter from Hathaway yesterday.

Cole said it was not about Action Care but it sounded to her like Action Care will forever by the provider unless they botch things up.  Does only one company have the right to prosper while others are denied the opportunity to submit a bid and prove they are good?  It is important to go through the process.

Tom Mulvey said he asked the same question two weeks ago but did not get a good answer.  They cannot let contracts be signed without going through the council.

Brinkman agreed with Cole – it is not a contract for eternity.  The council has a responsibility of due diligence for the citizens of Littleton that use the service.  She did not like a contract approval that excluded the council.

Ostermiller asked her if she was asking that all contracts, up to 15 each week, come before council.

Cole called a point of order saying that Ostermiller’s question was not related to the motion.

Clark said the council needs a policy on what contracts get signed by staff and what goes to council but that is not related to this motion.  Clark had heard about the good job that Action Care was doing.  He specifically asked for performance data as it related to the contract but he did not get it.  They received some performance data but not as it related to the contract.  He was disappointed in the process. 

 Clark’s motion passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting.  

Ostermiller asked how they fill the void.  Bailey said the contract from the19th was valid and the City could give them 120 days notice to terminate.  It was decided that the 120 days would be enough time for the RFP process.

 Clark made the motion to pursue the RFP process and his motion was passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting. Name the Lakes committee was approved 7/0.  Brinkman and Cole were named to represent the council on that committee by a 7/0 vote. 

$100,000 Conservation Trust Fund money was approved for connecting the Big Dry Creek Trail on the west side of Broadway with the trail on the east side of Broadway by a 7/0 vote.

 700 MHz Radio System for Police

Chief Coogan was there to clarify some questions that were brought up at a previous council meeting.  The main issue was the 10 hour battery.  The radios originally specified in their request only had a battery life of less than 10 hours.  The radio specified in the final request has a battery life of more than 10 hours.  If they purchase the radio first identified then they will need to purchase extra batteries, charges, holders and mic attachments.

Brinkman asked about the battery life of the units now in use.  Coogan said more than 10.  Brinkman wanted to know how much the “disadvantage” of the 8 hours units would cost the city and Coogan said it was reflected in the difference between the two different requests.  ($140,000)

Cole wanted to know if the officers would carry an extra battery on their belt or keep it in the vehicle if they went with the less expensive 8 hour model.  Coogan said it would be up to the officer.  Cole wanted to confirm that the mic attachments, holders etc were purchased out of the city’s uniform budget.  That’s true.  The city equips a new officer with all the equipment they need.  Any replacements come from another budget item for uniforms etc.

Taylor made the motion to purchase the 700 MHz radios and Ostermiller seconded.

Clark had a serious concern that transcends the Police Department to the entire city.  We don’t do a good job of selecting systems and this is a good example.  We need requirements specified and then put out a RFP and see what meets our needs.  The first radios suggested for purchase had the wrong battery life and did not transmit data.  It happened with the fire reporting system, and the billing system.  I have no confidence what we buy will meet our needs.  We don’t do a good job.  In the 90’s we allocated laptops in police cars so reports could be filled out in the cars rather than taking the officer off the street to come in and write their report.  That did not work.  This is a long running problem.  We need to define our needs before we spend $800,000 for a system that we are not sure meets our needs.

Mulvey said the greatest thing we can do for our citizens is to give the police the best equipment. 

Cole said the Charter doesn’t support a lease/purchase if the money is available.  She would prefer that the city pay as they go since we have the money to make the purchase outright. 

Taylor said the money does not exist in the account to cover the costs.  The current interest rate we can earn on our money is greater than the rate of interest being charged for the loan.  Taylor thought both of these were very strong arguments to approve the motion.

Cole said they could transfer the money into the account resolving Taylor’s concern.  How many other things do we have obligated in terms of a lease-purchase asked Cole?

Jose compared the lease purchase to his own restaurant business.  He doesn’t disagree with the lease-purchase arrangement because if the asset needs repair it is done free of charge.

Brinkman said it is troubling that the purchase process for large systems is broken.  Three quarters of a million dollars!  Technology is making our lives easier but it is more expensive.  She hopes the equipment will last 7 years – we are over-buying more than what we need 90% of the time but for the 10% we will be grateful that we have the equipment.  She thought the police could work around the battery issue and she wasn’t sure about the data transmission component of the radio – sounds like bells and whistles.  In two to three years we may wish we had not made the purchase – my last computer is two years old and it is a dinosaur.  However, the dispatch consoles scare her and it is an all or nothing purchase.  She intends to talk about how we make purchases like this in the future.

Cole clarified that Wells Fargo would be the other party to the lease-purchase agreement and asked Coogan about repairs costs.  Coogan told her that they will have an annual maintenance agreement.

Motion passed 5/2 with Cole and Clark dissenting.

Taylor moved to move $140,000 from the special projects fund to the police department fund to cover the additional costs of the 700 MHz radios.  Jose seconded and motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

 Wellness Program for Fire Fighters

Chief Mullins applied for and received a grant from Homeland Security for a Wellness Program.  As with most grants there is a matching component for the recipient.  During the budget process (with previous council) the item was deferred until it was known whether or not the grant was awarded.  For the matching funds, Mullins said they would not be purchasing an air compressor.

Question was asked if there was any penalty if the grant was not accepted.  There is none. 

Mullins was very passionate about the wellness of his department and said this was the number one priority for the fire department.  The union is behind this too – they campaigned for it and worked the grant.  The grant not only covers physicals but equipment and training.

Clark asked Mullins to give a two minute explanation of what the wellness program is and why they want it.

Mullins said the number one killer for firemen is heart disease.  This program hopes to minimize that problem with early detection, nutrition and an exercise program.  There is a concern that I will be back next year asking for more money – I will be back.  It is important.

Jose asked if they don’t currently have physicals for their fire fighters.  Mullins said they are available every year but the grant provided more than the physicals in addition to a more in-depth physical.

Mulvey asked if we have a lot of heart attacks over time.

Mullins said he had had one and one of his fire fighters had a heart scan and found a blockage.  They need early detection.

Mulvey asked if fire fighters had more incidents than the general population. Mullins replied yes when they are in combat.  The grant would cover the valium test which is the gold standard of heart scans.  It would also cover heart scans.

Brinkman said the number one killer of women is heart disease.  She asked Mullins if they had a gym and they do.  She asked what additional equipment would they add and he said core conditioning (balance balls) – the stuff we shy away from.  Mullins told her that a treadmill would be added, body fat measure device and peer trainers would be trained.  Brinkman said body fat calipers are $5.99 online.  Brinkman asked about the nutrition classes and Mullins said the program has not yet been determined.

Every year the fire department asks for $60,000 for physicals.  Mullins said that was correct but they don’t test everyone every year.  Those over 40 are tested every year, those over 30 are tested every two years and the kids are tested every three years.

Brinkman asked about the difference in the current physical and what this grant would provide and Mullins said a flexibility test.  Brinkman asked him if they couldn’t bring in a trainer and Mullins said they intend to do that.  Brinkman asked how often.  Mullins explained that the grant would provide the tuition to send current employees to be trained.  Brinkman asked if that would add responsibilities to those individuals, would it mean over-time and how many would be trained.  Mullins said it would add to their duties and there would be a total of 9 – 3 per shift.

Ostermiller asked about the $147,724 – what’s that for.  Mullins said an outside vendor would do the original testing and provide the results to the participants.

Cole said the non fire fighters take it upon themselves to eat right and care for themselves.  How much of this could happen through department encouragement? Mullins said they are already making changes at the kitchen table for fitness to be number one.

Cole appreciated the unique exposure to stress but why would they do this for them and not the police and other employees.  Mullins said he could not answer questions for the other departments but he would enjoy a grant that included all the employees.

Woods said the City has a very comprehensive wellness program that included cooking classes among other things.

Jose said these things start out and have a tendency to get out of hand.  They start small but he foresees that the police will want it then the regular employees will want to add the programs. We already have a good program and it is his personal opinion that each of us has insurance that takes care of the exams.  As a former fire fighter he says you have to stay in shape.

Mullins said he got the same lecture from his Dad but money spent on wellness comes back to you.  For every $2 to $3 spent $5 or $6 will come back in workmen’s comp savings.  There will be less injuries and sick time.

Ostermiller said the city attorney had questions about this during the budget talks related to personnel issues and the HIPPO law.  Has the attorney given this the stamp of approval?

Bailey said Mr. Berkowitz did not have the agreement to review at the time.

Woods said the “fit for duty” was a concern last summer and that component has been dropped.  The fire fighters will be the only one to get their medical results.

Cole asked Mullins if we would save over $100,000 this year if we accepted the grant.

Mullins said the grant is $178,000 with an 80/20 match.  The 20% match would be divided between the three different fire districts.

Taylor said this was not approved last summer.

Cole asked about the air compressor – was it not needed.  Mullins explained that they are moving away from their 30 minute canisters of air to 45 minute canisters reducing the need for the air compressor.

Mulvey moved to accept the grant.  Jose seconded the motion for discussion sake.

Clark said heart attacks are the number one killer of all Americans.  Fire fighters are 100% more likely to have a heart attack in stressful conditions but so is the person shoveling snow or out running.  How big is the problem?  In 2006 106 fire fighters died from a heart attack.  Fifty of the heart attacks occurred 24 hours after duty although they were counted as on-duty deaths.  Clark told about a 41 year old emergency medic that responded to a call from an 85 year old man in cardiac arrest.  At 5:30, when his sift ended, he went home.  He slept, ate breakfast, delivered a bid and at 11:53 am felt ill, went to the hospital and died.  It was considered an on-duty heart attack.  There’s the idea that there’s a safety issue with deaths at the scene of a fire but how often does that happen.  In one million four had heart attacks at the scene.  To put that in perspective, 90 people are killed by lightening each year.  We complain about the cost of health care.  The fire fighters can exercise like the rest of us.  Four people – this is the poster child for a wasteful government program.

Ostermiller said he wrestled with this.  A few years ago a former employee, Kevin Burke,  presented a comprehensive health care package to reduce the costs. We need to get a handle on this.  Burke proposed a wellness program that would financially reward employees for staying healthy.  If we did that this would take ¼ of the employees out of the potential of a new program.  Ostermiller was concerned about the on-going funding this might require.  He was sorry that they did not discuss this before they submitted the grant application.

 Motion failed on a 0/7 vote.  Cole then asked Mullins if the compressor was taken out of the budget.  Woods said the compressor had just vaporized. Boards and Commissions

The council suspended their rules to facilitate the process of selecting members of the boards and commissions.  I will list those that were appointed and any discussion that was not routine.  An issue that was being scrutinized closely with all reappointments was their attendance for the past year.  Brinkman announced that she was going to be a stickler for meeting the rules on absences.  There were too many good applicants and to allow someone to hold a position on a board or commission and then not attend was not acceptable.  Ostermiller said it was not a hard and fast rule – if the chair of the group found the absences to be a problem then he/she would issue a concern with the council.  The council had not received any concerns over the attendance of members during the last year.  Brinkman said 5 or 6 absences on BIAAC were not acceptable – the effective operation of these groups depends on their attendance.  It is important.

Taylor suggested that they not appoint spouses.  Brinkman argued against that notion saying that each individual needed to be considered on their own merit.

 Board of Adjustment

Raymond Koernig, Jr was reappointed

Darcy Kennedy was appointed as an alternate

 Building Board of Appeals

Matt Cashman was reappointed

Chuck Martinez and Dean Rue were moved from alternates to regular members

Bob Davis was appointed as an alternate

 Business/Industry Affairs Advisory Committee

Susan Thornton was reappointed

Pamela Camelio, Kim Glidden, Michael Price, Jennifer Smith and Bill Snyder were appointed.

 Fine Arts Committee

Laura Jones was reappointed.

Dale Shields and Scott ? were appointed.

Steve Werges and Carol Brzeczek were appointed as alternates

 Historical Preservation Board

Margi Clute and Pam Rosendal were reappointed.

Bruce Stahlman and Chuck Reid were appointed as alternates if the council determines to add alternates to the committee.  That will be determined at a future meeting.

 Housing Authority

Aaron Heumann was reappointed.

Library Board

Lisa Ohlgren and Mary Pat Valdes were appointed.

 Liquor Authority

William Bradish was reappointed.

Earl Guina and John Cole were moved from alternates to regular members.

Susan Price and Victoria England were appointed as alternates.

 Museum Board

Steven Rarey was also reappointed.

Amy Fisher was appointed.

Dick Dugdale was reappointed but as an alternate for one year.  He has had several absences but will make an effort to have better attendance.

Ginny Fraser were appointed as alternate

Planning Commission  – This committee was dealt with somewhat differently than the others. 

Craig Ciarlelli, an alternate, was not reappointed.

Julio Iturreria was reappointed.

At this point Clark said he had problems with the Planning Commission.  He had had an email with a Ward and June Cleaver theme, some members are having a difficult time adjusting to the new direction and they needed to replace a number of them.  With that he suggested the following.

            Steve Bockenstedt be moved from an alternate to a regular member.

            David Metcalf, Norm Brown, Pavlos Stavropoulos were appointed.

            Yolanda McCallister, Don Knight and Brad Uhlig were removed.

            Linda Knufinke and Curt Samuelson were appointed as alternates.

This motion passed on a 5/2 vote with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting.

 Riverfront Authority

Mike Massey and James Taylor were reappointed.

 Tree Committee

Carl Mikesell was reappointed.

Sandra Snyder was appointed.

Susan Brown and R. D. Andrews were removed for poor attendance.

Gay Wilkerson and Mary Jane Brady were appointed to fill their vacancies.

 Victim Assistance Compensation Board

Jamie Driscoll was reappointed.

 Reports

The sewer rates discussion was scheduled for March 18 after the regular meeting.  There will not be a meeting on March 25th. 

Ostermiller and Doug Farmen had met to discuss the 5 year budget.  Farmen had a model that he used in Washington that they worked from.  They will have something to bring to the council in about 6 weeks.

Mulvey said Frank Atwood had been elected as the President of AARP.

Taylor said he was very concerned about the direction of the council with their heavy-handed removal of citizens who had done a good job for the city.  When he is looking for members for the boards and commissions he looks for forward thinking people.  Not for people stuck in a pit – or in the past with an ax to grind.  Some of the Planning Commission members fit this category very well.  He is interested to see what the future of this city will be – a dictatorship!

Clark complemented Richelle for the good job she is doing.

Clark also suggested that the Littleton Report be used to advertise the Swim and Tennis Club in Southbridge.  They have had some unusual and difficult circumstances and it would benefit the entire city to see them succeed. 

Ostermiller asked if they would be willing to do that for every neighborhood.  Clark said, “good point.”

Bailey said it would raise substantial first amendment issues. We control the Littleton Report – it is our message and we will have to open it up to others.

Clark moved onto another matter.  He requested a policy on contracts – what has to be approved by the council and what can be approved by the staff.  Woods will provide the council with background information.

   

             

              

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One Response

  1. WRT Swim and Tennis Club in Southbridge being advertized in the Littleton Report maybe the Littleton Retreat should be treated the same way. At least the Club holds its events in the City of Littleton.

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