City Council Meeting April 1, 2008

Littleton City Council Meeting

1 April 2008

 Scheduled Appearances

Greg Reinke was recognized for his Citizen of the Year honor by the Littleton Independent.

 Unscheduled Appearances

Tom Kristopeit invited people to attend the Littleton Leadership Retreat.

Carol Brzeczek spoke about the Open Meetings Law.  At the last regular council meeting council voted to hold an executive session on April 7.  What the council should have done was to vote on whether or not to hold a special meeting on the 7th.  The law requires that prior to convening into an executive session a regular or special meeting be called to order.  Only then can a motion can be made to convene into an executive session.  To make a motion a few weeks prior to the meeting is not consistent with the law.  There may not be a quorum present at the time the meeting is scheduled.

Another concern with the Open Meetings Law – at the same meeting as mentioned earlier the council attempted to pass a motion for the subcommittee (for the selection of a new city attorney) to hold an executive session.  There was some confusion and Doug Clark decided to take up the matter at another time.  Brzeczek said the motion for the executive session in question was for the subcommittee to make and not the council.  She then asked Clark if minutes of the subcommittee meetings were available and where would they be found.  He said minutes were not taken as they made no decisions.  Brzeczek probed a little further asking him if there were not recommendations made by the subcommittee to which Clark said there were.  The OML requires minutes at any meeting where there is a possibility of action of any kind.

Brzeczek told council that she had been in front of council a year ago with the same questions she was going to ask again tonight.  She has never received answers to her questions and thought that any questions asked by citizens deserved to be answered.  She then showed how the 2005 and 2006 collection portion of our sewer bill was misrepresented.  We were to be charged 7% increase in 2005 according to the Red Oak Financial Plan but we were charged a 19% increase.  In the 2006 report it shows that we were charged a 19% increase but the actual increase was 52%.  She then showed the error compounded over 3 years which equaled over $300,000 being overcharged to the single family residents in Littleton.  She did not figure the overcharge for the multi family and commercial accounts.  Her three questions were:

   (1)      Please explain to me the expenditures the city has made to the collection system to justify this type of increase?

   (2)      Please explain why our Collection fees have gone up at a greater rate than our Treatment fees when the majority of the work being done at the plant is related to treatment and not collection

   (3)      If the majority of the increases in the cost of sewage treatment is being borne by the citizens of Littleton – why should we believe that growth is paying its own way?

 She then suggested that the council take a look at the actual budget figures for 2005, 2006 and 2007 and compare the total collection revenue to the collection expenses.  It did not make sense to her that the collection fees have gone up 96% in the past 3 years when the plant expansion was for the treatment portion of our sewer rates. 

On yet another matter, Brzeczek asked council to consider opening up the agenda by allowing citizens to address the council on any agenda item as it came up on the agenda rather than using the 4 minutes of unscheduled time.  She had three topics to discuss and was limited to 4 minutes total which was not in the spirit of open government.

Clark told Brzeczek that the council was not in the habit of responding to questions the night they are posed because the information may not be known or available at that moment.  He mentioned the Pub meetings held once a month at the Buck Center as a good place to interact with council members.  Brzeczek said she loved the Pub meetings but had been appointed to the Fine Arts Committee which met on the same night and she no longer would be able to attend the Pub meetings.  She appreciated the difficulty that council might have in responding to questions at the meetings.  She said that her experience with the school board was that if questions were not answered the night they were asked, staff members would follow up with the citizens at a later date.  Brzeczek has asked several questions over the past few years and has yet to receive an answer on any of them.  She hopes, with the new council, that they will recognize the importance of citizens’ questions being answered rather than ignored.  If citizens are involved enough to attend the meetings and take the time to speak to the council their questions should not go unanswered.  She thanked council’s in allowing her to speak beyond the 4 minutes.

After telling the council that he was looking forward to his sewer rebate (based on Brzeczek’s comments as he owns 9 properties) Cal Murib addressed the council seeking help with a property he owns on So. Santa Fe.  It is a residence that is in a business zone.  The tenant has an over-sized tow truck that he has been told is in violation of the zoning codes to have parked in his driveway.  Clark told Murib that he was not the only property owner with this concern and he felt it was something that the council should discuss and Clark would get it on a study session for this coming Tuesday.

 Consent Agenda

Ordinance on First Reading Establishing 2008 Sanitary Sewer Utility Charges and Ordinance on First Reading Authorizing Conveyance by Quit Claim Deed of Storm Sewer Easement in Rio Grande Subdivision No. 1 were both passed 7/0.

The Motion to Approve Annexation of Property to Southwest Metro Water Sanitation District and the Motion on First Reading to Approve Subdivision Improvements Agreement for the Alexan, Littleton Station Residential Development at Rio Grande/Belleview were both pulled by Doug Clark.  Clark asked if these two motions would exempt the two groups from paying the proposed higher tap fee. Charlie Blosten said no – in order to get a sewer tap there needs to be an active building permit.  Neither of these two projects have active building permits nor would it be possible for them obtain them prior to the tap fees being decided.  Both of these motions passed 7/0.

 Second and Final ReadingOrdinance on second reading adopting the International Code Council’s 2006 Residential, Mechanical, Plumbing, Fuel Gas, Property Maintenance, Energy Conservation, Abatement of Dangerous Buildings, with Amendments, and portions of the American National Standard Institute/American Society of Mechanical Engineers Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators with Amendments, and Providing Penalties for Violations was passed on a 7/0 vote.  Clark offered an amendment that would eliminate the need for a permit on decks under 30 inches high but it dies for lack of a second. 

The noticeable change was Brinkman’s effort to eliminate all permit and user fees for those that install solar or photovoltaic energy conservation systems to their homes.  Littleton is the first city state-wide to offer such an incentive to its residents.  Main motion passed 7/0. 

If you want to read more about how these changes impact the current code – please go to the city’s web site and look at the Council Communication for agenda item 8(a).

 General Business

1.  Peggy Cole requested the establishment of a City Council committee to update the council’s legislative rules and procedures.  She said citizens have expressed confusion and at times she has been confused by them as well.  She believes it is time to address the weaknesses.

John Ostermiller said he would rather have the council as a whole do this at a study session as opposed to having a subcommittee.  Clark said they would have to approve the work of the subcommittee anyway.

Jim Taylor thought it should wait until they have a new city attorney.

Clark agreed that there are areas that need to be cleaned up.  At times Robert’s Rules of Order are quoted entirely and other times only parts of Robert’s Rules are quoted.  There is confusion with the types of meetings and he agrees with Ostermiller that it should be done with the whole council present.

Peggy Cole said she has already started to look at the rules and procedures and has done quite a bit of work on them and she is willing to share what she has already done.

Ostermiller moved that the update of the rules and procedures be added to the study session as soon as possible.  Debbie Brinkman seconded.  Motion passed 7/0.

2.  Cole also had a motion on the agenda to appoint a city council subcommittee to explore the purpose and duration of an ad-hoc communications committee for the city. 

Tom Mulvey said he was not anxious for another subcommittee.  Clark said he was going to recommend Mulvey for this one!

Mulvey said communication is much better than it was two years ago and they should try to avoid more time and involvement with the staff and council members.

Cole said six weeks ago the question about who has the right to publish in the Littleton Report came about.  This group could deal with those types of issues.  She would also like to see what it would take to get Channel 8 on for those that subscribe to satellite TV.

Brinkman agreed that it would be valuable but thinks the work needs to be better defined.  Perhaps a council subcommittee would be a better way to go and then the ideas could be discussed at a study session.  Let the citizens say what they would like rather than the council tell them what to do.

Ostermiller agreed with Mulvey.  We have an outstanding community network in Littleton.  We put out more handouts and brochures than any other community.  We are limited in what we can afford to do.  This is a small department and I don’t know how much more we can ask them to do.  The Littleton Report has high readership and he doesn’t see a need for this at this time.  Timing is not right.

Clark moved to appoint an ad-hoc committee to explore communications issues and bring back a report to council.  Cole seconded.  Motion failed 3/4 with Taylor, Ostermiller, Trujillo and Mulvey dissenting. 


Resolution Establishing the Basis to determine the Value of a Construction Project for the Purpose of Establishing Building Permit Fees and Use Tax Deposits.

Jim Thelen explained that this resolution would establish the square footage cost that they use in evaluating the cost of a project to determine the permit fees and use tax.  The rate is tied to inflation and is updated every three years.  They try to keep the costs low to be fair and just in their determinations.  Motion passed 7/0.


Jim Woods – Englewood has requested a joint meeting with Littleton to discuss the Colorado Water Quality Control on segment 14 which concerns a use protection permit.  Englewood offered some dates – none of which worked for all council members.  Council directed Woods to confirm with Englewood a February 24th, 7pm, would work for Littleton even though Brinkman would not be able to attend.

Effective next Monday Dennis Swain will be the Acting Director of Community Development to replace Mary Roberts.  There will be a national search very similar to the process used to hire Chief Coogan.  The process will take about 6 months.

Brinkman asked if Kevin Wrede’s position had been filled.  Woods said yes – Ernie Rose has been moved into his position.

Cole asked how long before we would have a new Director – Woods repeated himself.  She then asked if they would be using a consultant – Woods repeated himself again.

In the packets that Council would be receiving on Thursday, Doug Farmen and his finance team have included a preliminary un-audited budget for 2007.  They have also estimated that we have exceeded the TABOR cap by $1.8 million dollars.  Woods will put that topic on for a future study session.

Woods wanted to follow up with council after their breakfast meeting with the fire department.  Woods needed clarification from council on the Action Care contract – did council want to continue using Action Care until a new vendor is chosen.  Clark made a motion to continue with Action Care until a new vendor is chosen.  Motion passed 7/0.

Woods said he was assuming that the council did not want to reconsider the Wellness Program – Clark said that was a correct assumption.

Woods also announced that District II would be seeing a rebuilding of Powers Street by the Village School between Court Place and Windermere – sidewalks would be installed too.

The CDEG Block Grant has been supplemented by an additional grant David Flagg applied for and received from Arapahoe County for $104,000.

Taylor asked Blosten to look into the need for a sidewalk where there is a worn path in Progress Park.

Brad Bailey said he was going to Washington DC for a lawyer’s conference where he would pick up his service award and some continuing education credits.  He may be late for the April 15th meeting but to start without him.

Woods said the fire union has asked for a new pension plan that will require extensive discussion at their next study session.

Appearing somewhat frustrated Phil Cortese asked the council for further patience with them on the council minutes.  All draft minutes will be noted as draft minutes on the city’s web site.  Once they have been approved the draft minutes will be replaced with the approved minutes.  He is considering inviting a consultant to come in and look at the processes they use and make recommendations.  He would like the consultant to talk to council members too.

Clark thought it would be a good idea.

Brinkman asked about timing of the minutes as citizens want things done quicker – what is the goal?

Cortese said they try to get the draft to the council in the following Thursday packet so they can be approved at the next regular meeting.  Brinkman asked when the minutes went on the web to which Cortese said they go on the web when they go into the packets.

Jim Taylor asked if there was support for a parking potential need for downtown Littleton that would include the eventual redevelopment of those properties.  Also they needed to look at the need to find parking areas – structures or relocate the available parking in downtown.  He thought it was important to do this before they started doing the CA zone Master Plan.

Woods said it was on the study session list as a result of the workshop.  We can go through another study but you may want to do the CA plan first.  The consultant will ask for land use projections for Main Street.

Clark suggested a very limited study – Alamo south to Church Street and look at the existing buildings.

Woods said they have been through 7 or 8 studies and it is pretty much formula generated.  J. F. Sato was used for the last study.  The NE corner of ACC and Skunk Hollow are about the only two areas for parking. 

Clark said he did not remember the Sato study projecting the number of spaces needed.

Woods said they can do a draft RFP but he thinks it is premature.

Taylor said he was concerned with the possibility of Vantage Auto and Valley Feed being turned into restaurants and what that will do to parking.  Studies show that restaurants keep downtowns thriving and we need an idea about how we are going to solve the problem.

Woods said he did not know if they will get a comprehensive solution but he understands the sense of urgency.

Ostermiller thought it should be a study session topic and Brinkman said they needed to get off the dime – whatever they do will require a financial pan no matter when they do it.  She was ready to move on to solutions.

Clark said he is struggling with the chicken or the egg – we need to know how big the problem is.  He asked Woods to provide a 1 or 2 page statement of what’s would be in the RFP for council review using Powers to Church and Santa Fe to the railroad tracks based on the current zoning.

Jose said he thinks 3,400 spaces are needed.  The 1977 study said we were short 500 spaces then.  A “parking district” needs to be mentioned to the businesses notifying them that they will need to “pony-up” – they may walk away from the issue.

Taylor requested that the reallocation of parking that was part of the police building plan that relocated the police from the City Center be resurrected and sent to council members along with the other space studies.  Kelli Narde told him it was nothing formal – she was not a professional planner – her degree is in Journalism – and the reallocation was a rough sketch and what made sense to her on a practical level. She was the responsible person for that reallocation plan and it was all from her head.

Woods wished Taylor luck in retrieving that information!

Mulvey asked Blosten about a power outage on March 29th.  After talking to Xcel and learning there wasn’t any power outage Charlie learned about a world-wide promotion to turn out the lights for an hour.  This is something that could be promoted in Littleton if the council desired.

Charlie also mentioned the 20 trees that were planted north of the Melting Pot parking lot.  The trees were planted on 9/11 and not one has died.  He said it is a living remembrance of that day.  Mulvey suggested a plaque.  Blosten said there was more beautification to do in that area.

Ostermiller said an interim report from LPS on facility uses would be presented on April 24th to the school board.  On May 5 there will be a public forum in the LPS board room at 7pm.  There are no specific ideas yet.

Ostermiller said the audit subcommittee (Cole, Clark and Ostermiller) went over the RFP for a new audit firm.  The Charter limits the number of years one auditor can audit the city’s financial records to five years.  The RFP has been sent to firms.

Brinkman offered Mary Roberts good luck in her new job.

Brinkman said her April 22 District IV meeting was fantastic and well received with 58 people in attendance.  She thanked all of her friends and foot soldiers that walked her district to hand deliver the invitation and survey.  She has had several surveys returned and they overwhelming show that people are reading the Littleton Report, people want to be asked about what they think.  Prior to being elected she asked for the citizens to have a voice in the Littleton Report and she still thinks the Littleton Report needs more “from” the citizens – the information they can provide is invaluable in helping us do what we do.  She pushed for a citizen’s forum in the Littleton Report – citizens really appreciate being asked for their opinions.

Jose said he walked the streets of Powers and Prince and people are happy with the slow down in traffic.

Clark thought it would be worth the council’s time to discuss Cal Murib’s complaint and to find out how many parcels in Littleton fall into the same category as Murib’s.


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