Littleton City Council Minutes – May 20, 2008

Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes

20 May 2008

 Scheduled Public Appearances

Dan Burnham from the Littleton Housing Authority provided the Council an update on their accomplishments.  They will be renovating an old medical building on South Bannock (behind King Soopers) for their offices.  It will be the first time that all their staff is located at the same location.  For more information on Burnham’s update, please see the official council minutes on the city’s web site.

 

Unscheduled Appearances

Several individuals in the solar energy field thanked the Council for the waiver of the building permit fees on solar power devices.  They asked the Council to consider eliminating the sales tax on the same items.

 

Carol Brzeczek addressed an item under General Business – the renting of the Reinke Brothers’ parking lot.  After numerous discussions on parking in downtown Littleton we have been told many times that there is not a parking problem in downtown Littleton so why is the tax payer’s money being spent on renting space for 46 weeks out of the year.  From the Council Communication it appears that the rented parking is used primarly by the employees that work in downtown Littleton.  She asked Jose if the City provided the parking for his employees.  She pointed out the discrepancy in the amount of money per space that the City pays Reinke Brothers for parking and what the Melting Pot pays the City for parking they rent from the City.  The City pays more for parking than it charges for parking.  Brzeczek believed it was time for the merchants in downtown Littleton to deal with Greg Reinke on their own for the parking they need.  She did not like her tax dollars being spent to subsidize employee parking for the downtown merchants.

 

Bill Hopping from the Historic Preservation Board was grateful for Gov. Ritter for signing a bill in downtown Littleton.  He said the HPB will be hosting a series of forums to explore historic preservation to learn what’s important to people.  The HPB would be sharing the information with the Council and he asked that the Council postpone any discussion on the CA district until their work is complete.

 

Consent Agenda

The Resolution adopting the Amended and Restated Money Purchase Plan and Trust Agreement of the General Employees of the City of Littleton, which authorizes action necessary to ensure the tax qualified status of all of the City’s retirement plans was moved to a future study session.

 

The Ordinance on First Reading to exempt alternative energy facilities from sales and use tax was passed on first reading.  Peggy Cole asked the staff to provide their estimate on how it will impact the revenue stream and to clarify the meaning of “existing residences” and “incorporate into”.  She also wanted to know how this ordinance might impact purchases made outside the city limits.

 

Doug Clark expressed his concerns.  He said it appears that it doesn’t include conditional use and all turbines need conditional use.  He was also concerned with the term “existing residences” – do we need to define new construction versus existing. 

 

Cole was also concerned that the franchise fees collected from Xcel may also be reduced if numerous people converted to solar power and wind devices.

 

General Business

Fire Pension Plan – the Council needed to pass a non-binding resolution to approve the moving of the Fire Pension Plan from the City to the FPPA Defined Benefit System so the plan could be presented to the firefighters and be voted on by the firefighters.  If it is approved it could be in place by April 2009.  The current employees would stay at a 10/10 contribution ratio and the new hires would be at an 8/8 ratio.  However, since this vote is a formality the ratios mentioned are not being determined with this vote.  (The 10/10 and 8/8 refers to the percentage of the employee and employer contribution.  This is very much like the employee and employer contributions into social security.  The firefighters are not part of the social security system – this is their version of social security.  If this new plan is approved the City would no longer be involved.)

 

Doug Farmen said there was some new information that increased the cost of the plan.  The definition of base pay is expanded under the new plan and would cost an additional $10,000 per year (estimate).  If the new hires were on the 8/8 plan the cost savings could be approximately $28,000 per year on average.

 

John Ostermiller asked if this change would require a TABOR election and it does according to Brad Bailey who had already provided draft language for a ballot question to the Council members.  Ostermiller said defined benefit plans are risky for the City – companies have had to file bankruptcy because of defined benefit plans.  The biggest expenses for Littleton Public Schools are salaries, insurance, fuel and PERA contributions.  LPS has almost used up all their reserves and will be looking to voters to increase their mill levy.  When PERA got into trouble LPS has to pay-in more.  He would much rather see Littleton work with the fire fighters and improve the current plan  We would then have control over the payments as opposed to some Board or State that we have no control over.  He cannot agree with the proposal.

 

Clark said Ostermiller’s point illustrates why it is important to have a TABOR election.  The Resolution passed on a 6/1 vote with Ostermiller dissenting.

 

Reinke Brothers Parking Lot Contract Renewal – The City has had an agreement with Reinke Brothers since 2001 to rent 70 parking spaces for 11 months out of the year.  The original cost was $25 per space and in 2006 was increased to $30 per space.  Reinke Brothers are now asking for an escrow account in the amount of $2,500 for snow removal of their entire lot (not just the 70 spaces) when the snow exceeds 4 inches.  The removal will be paid for out of the escrow account the City provides. 

 

The number of days the parking is not available has been expanded to include Western Welcome Week Grand Parade Week and the Halloween season.  This contract change represent an additional 8 days that the parking will not be available.

 

Reinke Brothers have also asked for an additional $150 for their attorney fees.

 

Dennis Swain said the use of the parking lot has gone down over the past 3 years and that the Post Office uses the lot more than others.  The total cost of the parking spaces will be $25,750 and there is $23,100 currently budgeted.

 

Cole asked if the downtown employees can find places to park on the 45 days we don’t have access to the Reinke lot, what’s the argument to lease space.  If we don’t need them for 45 days I question why we need them at all.  People aren’t aware of the lot.

 

Swain said they needed to get the word out.

 

Cole said the City repaved the lot with the understanding that Reinke would remove the snow.  Charlie Blosten said they made that arrangement 3 years ago – the condition of the pavement was bad and they needed to encourage people to use the lot so it was repaved.  Then we had the 2006 and 2007 snows.  Cole said it was a significant investment.

 

Cole asked Blosten about the 4 inches of snow and icy conditions – Blosten said you can’t say 4 inches – if we get ice we have a responsibility to take care of it – 4 inches is meaningless.

 

Cole asked about liability if someone should slip and be hurt – Bailey said it was Reinke’s responsibility.

 

Clark asked what it would cost to put parking in on Rio Grande.  Blosten said hundreds of thousands of dollars – it would require a retaining wall and utility lines would have to be relocated.

 

Clark was concerned about the Post Office employees not having a place to park – Swain verified that there were 30 parking permits issued to the PO.  Ostermiller asked if the City charged for the permits – Swain said no.  Cole asked why we are paying for the employees parking – why not let the free market work.

 

Jose thought it was a reasonable amount to pay for parking.  He is concerned about Merle’s coming in and the need for parking it will create.

 

Jim Taylor moved to renew the lease agreement with Reinke Brothers for $30 per space, $2,500 escrow account for snow removal and $150 legal fees.  Jose seconded.

 

Mulvey said he wasn’t sure they needed 70 spaces – we could get by with 50.  Clark wasn’t sure.  Because the existing contract has expired on May 15th Clark was worried about the PO employees and wanted the contract renewed now but preferred to pay a flat $35 per space eliminating the escrow account and legal fees.  He amended the motion as such.  Ostermiller seconded.

 

Cole wanted to amend his amendment to only 50 spaces.  Clark asked her to wait and make her amendment on the main motion.

 

Debbie Brinkman said she did not support paying for the plowing.  We have paved his lot and improved it for his customers.

 

The amendment failed on a 3/4 vote with Cole, Mulvey, Brinkman and Trujillo dissenting.

 

Cole said she would prefer to have an in-depth discussion.

 

Brinkman was disappointed that Reinke was not present.  She felt that more review was necessary and was concerned that taxpayers were subsidizing the parking.  She thought it was interesting that the City is subsidizing Federal employees – it is not going to break the bank but we need a better agreement and better conditions.  Is this all the Reinke would consider?

 

Clark said we have to find parking for the PO employees but he did not want to be held captive on rising prices.  He wanted to instruct staff to look for alternative parking for the postal employees.  Jose said he has talked to the PO over the years and they are not keen on finding parking for their employees.  He has offered his parking area but they weren’t interested.

 

Ostermiller said he would vote yes on the motion.  If the streets fill up with employees parking the customers will not have a place to park. 

 

Cole amended the motion to leasing only 50 spaces at $30 per month with Reinke being responsible for snow removal.  Mulvey seconded. 

 

Taylor was concerned that if they reduced the number of parking spaces from 70 to 50 Reinke might barricade his lot on the nights Town Hall has productions.  Future changes in downtown are scheduled for a future study session – it is the wrong time for the amendment.

 

Ostermiller did not think the rate had gone up very much – $25 in 2001 to $30.  A person has a right to make an income and the rate is very fair.

 

Clark would vote against the amendment.  He doesn’t feel comfortable changing the terms of the contract since it had already expired.  It would be better to renew and then discuss if it is fair.

 

Cole said if we pass the amendment it doesn’t mean that Reinke can’t counter propose.  Her amendment was defeated 3/4 with Taylor, Clark, Ostermiller and Jose dissenting.

 

The original motion passed 4/3 with Cole, Mulvey, and Brinkman dissenting.

 

Study Session Schedule – There will be a study session on May 29th following the Council’s breakfast meeting.  They will meet until noon to discuss a lodging tax, Council’s financial study, the 311 system, the 5 year budget expenditures report, and red light ticketing technology.

 

Reports

Cole responded to a question asked by Taylor at a previous meeting.  He asked, during the sewer rate hearing, if the City was obligated to discuss the rate increase with the outside districts before implementing the increase.  We do not have an obligation.  We do have an obligation if we change the method of collecting the fees.

 

Taylor attended a NLC steering committee meeting in Vegas.  There was discussion on under-performing shopping centers with 50,000 attendees.  Developers talked about what criteria they look for when they want to redevelop.  City mandates can push developers away.  They said mixed-use is here to stay, impact fees can drive developers away, RFQs rather than RFPs, private conversations are the only way to go, time is money, keep codes updated and enforced and the more streamlined the process is the better.  When you need to make contacts for redevelopment, ICSC is the place to do it.

 

Mulvey requested that the four–part series on behind the scenes look at the DNC be aired on Channel 8.  He requested approval for Wilton to come in ½ hour early on Tuesday nights to put it on.  Clark made the motion to direct Narde and Wilton to produce the series for $400.  Mulvey seconded the motion which passed 5/2 with Taylor and Jose dissenting.

 

Mulvey requested information on the cost of a full-time producer for the 2009 budget.

 

Clark moved that the Council delay their study session on downtown until after the HPB forums.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

Study Session

 

BIAAC

Brinkman reported that the Council voted 7/0 on BIAAC’s charge for 2008 – Aging Gracefully in Littleton.  The charge was not received very well and they were invited to Council to voice their objection and to explain.

 

Mike Price, representing BIAAC, said they have talked about the charge and there is a lot of merit in the charge.  The BIAAC group invited Council to breakfast at Schomp’s on June 13th, 7am to 9:30.  They have proposed a tour of Littleton. 

 

Woods advised them that the meeting would need to be posted and space on the tour would need to be provided for any public that wanted to attend.  (There has been a flurry of emails on this meeting that I will include on the Blog – look for it!)

 

There was a presentation on Code Enforcement in Littleton – for more please see the official minutes.

 

Goals and Objectives for the City Manager

Clark moved to spend between $2,000 and $4,000 and hire the same individual that helped the Council with the City Attorney search.  This person would interview the City Council, the department heads and create a document that will be the basis of the City Manager’s evaluation.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

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