2009 Littleton City Council Workshop – 30 January 2009

2009 City Council Workshop

January 30, 2009

Littleton Historical Museum

 

A G E N D A

 

 

Review Alternatives for Police Facilities

 

Staff had prepared 4 options to be considered and Debbie Brinkman had a 5th option.

 

Option 1 – Total Cost $5,109,866 ($360/sf) – an approximately 14,000 square foot addition to the east of the City Center that included space for the Investigations Division and a training room.

 

Potential Advantages –

  • Allows for all police services to remain at Littleton City Center
  • Allows police services to share support services and spaces (stairs, break rooms, conference rooms, etc.)
  • Includes investigations office and training center

 

Potential Disadvantages –

  • Eliminates approximately 25 parking spaces at the City Center
  • Disruptive impact of construction on daily operations
  • Does not include space for emergency planning center, etc.

 

Option 2 – Total Cost $5,408,883 ($463/SF) – an approximately 12,000 square foot addition to the east of the City Center, but with covered parking.

 

Potential Advantages –

  • Allows for all police services to remain at Littleton City Center
  • Allows police services to share support services and spaces (stairs, break rooms, conference rooms, etc.)
  • Includes investigations office

 

Potential Disadvantages –

  • Higher cost per square foot due to covered parking with occupied space above
  • Eliminates approximately 10 parking spaces at Littleton Center
  • Does not include space for training center, emergency planning center etc.
  • Disruptive impact on construction on daily operations at Littleton Center

 

 

Option 3 – Total Cost $3,635,741 ($426/sf) – A stand-alone building of approximately 8,500 square feet at the Belleview Service Center that would house the only evidence storage and crime lab functions.

 

Potential Advantages –

  • No disruptive impact of construction on daily operations at Littleton Center
  • Reduced level of exterior finishes required and assumes adequate utility services are available
  • No decrease to existing parking spaces

 

Potential Disadvantages –

  • New ID lab and evidence storage facility is not adjacent to existing police services (driving distances)
  • No addition space for police investigations, training, emergency planning, etc.
  • Disruptive impact of construction on daily operations at Service Center

 

Option 4 – Total Cost $5,613,672 ($328/sf) – The purchase and finish of a building at a newly completed industrial park on the site of the former Littleton Shops on Chenango Street.  Staff had informally discussed this option last year, and it appeared to become more promising as we refined the pros and cons of the other three options.

 

Potential Advantages –

  • No decrease in parking spaces at Littleton Center
  • Includes investigations office and space for training center, emergency planning center and other offices.
  • Entire building purchase allows for increased security and functionality
  • Existing core and shell facility allows for shorter build-out schedule
  • Reduces uncertainty of future construction costs
  • No disruptive impact of construction on daily operations at Littleton Center or Service Center

 

Potential Disadvantages –

  • Some police services will not be together (1 mile from Littleton Center)
  • Shared site with non-city tenants
  • May require site plan amendment for potential site modification

 

 

Option 5 – Total Cost to be negotiated but Brinkman said she would not bring the Option forward unless she believed it to be within the realm of reality.  The building is assessed at $3.2 million and the owner is asking $8.2 million but that can be negotiated. 

 

The purchase of a vacant office building that more than adequately serves the space needs of the police department; including but not limited to all evidence storage, office and meeting space, consolidation of all police functions in one facility (i.e. Service Center), increased space for dispatch (including fire dispatch), and provide ample parking for all police vehicles including Emergency Command Center and traffic patrol.

 

Potential Advantages – Includes all potential advantages of Options1-4 in addition to

  • Permanent Emergency Operations Center
  • Area for detectives to meet and work on raids, warrants, etc.
  • Space for “war room” that can remain up and secure during crime investigations
  • Improved space for Citizens Academy Training and able to accommodate more participants
  • Quick and easy access to Broadway, Santa Fe, C-470
  • Kennels for canines
  • Additional kennels for animals picked up overnight
  • Space for community events like safety fairs and other police educational outreach programs
  • South Metro Drug Task Force could have a meeting room or situation room
  • Large room for community meetings – currently an underserved need in Littleton
  • Better parking and access
  • Higher visibility of the police headquarters
  • An asset to the area – neighborhoods and businesses
  • Wire a large meeting room for Channel 8 and conduct more Board and Commission meetings on TV
  • Would free up a great deal of space at the service center
  • Storage needs for the court house, clerk and recorder, police, fire and other departments could be handled.
  • IT could move part of their operation to the Mineral building.  IT’s current configuration at the City Center is over crowded, extremely noisy and as technology continues to grow so will the need for more space – they have no where to grow
  • This would allow departments to reconfigure their space needs and provide less crowded and cluttered work spaces for their staff, thus improving the quality of the workplace.
  • Fire Admin space problem shown in the latest OEC study can be met at the City Center
  • Police use of the City Service Center will not be needed, leaving space for City Service expansion
  • Police services can be in the same facility easier for police and citizens
  • Regular business visitors to the City Center won’t have to mix with police visitors and vice versa
  • Eighty-two City Center parking spaces and eleven Service Center parking spaces would be moved to the police facility parking lot on Mineral
  • The appraised price of $3,200,000 would provide more than 67,000 square feet in a building as compared to $2,400,000 for 17,000 square feet in a Business Center

 

Potential disadvantages – None

 

The Council ended up eliminating most of the options so I am not going into the detail of what was said. 

  • Option 1- Survived in a different form and only to the extent that a design team will be brought in to consider it being built elsewhere on the City Center site with added space for the Emergency Planning Center and additional parking.
  • Option 2- Eliminated
  • Option 3- Eliminated
  • Option 4 – Eliminated
  • Option 5 still remains viable  

 

 

Discuss Possible Alternatives for Water Utility Fund

 

Suzanne Staiert, City Attorney, said the City is in a stronger position now that the Court has ruled on Barber v Ritter because the Court ruled that the fee was a tax and if it is a tax it is an excise tax and an excise tax is lawful and the collection began prior to TABOR.

 

Jim Taylor asked if an election would be helpful and Staiert said the Council could go to the voters but it would not be a TABOR issue.  It is a policy issue if you want to go the voters – not a legal issue.  The money could be used for any lawful purpose.

 

Doug Clark asked about the consequences of not refunding the money and someone decides to sue.  Staiert said the Court may rule that the fee needs to be returned along with interest but probably not attorney fees.  John Ostermiller asked if they wouldn’t have to turn over Barber v Ritter to which Staiert said yes.

 

Staiert said there are provisions within their Ordinances and Charter that would require a 6/1 or 7/0 vote to move the money from the Water Fund to another account or the Charter would have to be changed.

 

Clark said there were a couple of citizens that wanted to address the Council.  Jim Taylor clarified that any decision they made would have to come before the public at later meetings.  He was told yes and Taylor said that other citizens did not have the same opportunity to address the Council.  It was decided that the public would not be allowed to address the Council.  Ostermiller asked if all parties who paid fees would have to be treated the same and Clark asked if all the money in the Water Fund was transferred to another fund and then refunds made to specific citizens – does it open us up to other claims?

 

Staiert said they needed to have a rational and reasonable explanation for the Court.

 

Clark said the first decision to make is whether or not to refund the Water Fund money. 

 

Brinkman’s concern with refunding is that the developers would be double dipping as they had already recovered their costs and to refund them at this time would constitute a double dip. 

 

Tom Mulvey said a lot of the developers have gone out of business.

 

Taylor said there would be exceptions if they are still the owner of the property then they haven’t recouped their costs.  Ostermiller said then when they sell their property they could pay it back to the City.

 

Jose said he did not think it should be refunded – it can be used for other things – it is a can of worms if we start to refund.

 

Ostermiller said he agreed with Jose – at least if we keep it there’s a case from the Supreme Court that supports the position.

 

Brinkman said refunding the money is not something we can do fairly and equitably.

 

Peggy Cole asked Staiert if there was any way to refund the owners and not the developers that had already recouped their costs.

 

Staiert said she was uncomfortable with that – imagine being in front of a Judge – the arguments need to be simplistic and track with Barber v Ritter.

 

Clark said if we have a moral obligation to refund the money we can’t for everyone – some of the developers don’t exist.  We know some people that are alive, paid and have receipts.  If we can’t refund to all can we refund to some?  If we do we open ourselves to legal risk and we may have to refund the interest and we can’t do that because we don’t have it.  My fear is that if we start to refund to some and not to others could put us in a very difficult situation for a long period of time.  We need to use the money on projects that benefit the majority of the citizens.  We have to spend it very wisely – both financially and politically and it needs to be revenue neutral.  We have been spending the interest money annually and if we spend the Water Fund money we will be $200,000 to $500,000 short annually and we need to equalize that shortage by paying off some debt.

 

Jose moved to not refund the Water Fund to the entities.  Ostermiller seconded the motion which passed 7/0.

 

What to Do?

 

Doug Farmen, Finance Director, issued a memo that listed Littleton’s long-term financial obligations.

 

Obligation                                                         Payoff Amt                   Interest Savings

CRW Software Lease                                       $128,028                       $ 1,216

Ladder Truck Lease                                          $490,948                       $64,400

Police Radio Lease                                            $$666,309                     $45,484

1999 COPS-Courthouse                         $2,356,837                     $556,022

 

The other long-term obligations cannot be paid off until 2012 so they were not part of the discussion.  They are:     

 

1991 Colorado Water and Power Authority Bond (Sewer)                       $2,356,837

1991 Colorado Water and power Authority Loan (Sewer)                        $1,320,753

2004 Colorado Water and Power Authority Loan (Sewer)                       $45,577,105

 

Clark said the 1999 COPS is obvious.

 

Ostermiller thought the debt in place was pretty favorable and did not see that paying any debt off gets us anywhere.

 

Cole was interested in solving their comprehensive space needs.

 

Clark said he would argue against keeping all the money and he fears that if it is moved to the General Fund and not returned is the worst political move.

 

Cole asked if they could have another fund to hold this money.

 

Tiffany Wooten, accounting, said every fund has a particular function and she didn’t know that this money qualified.

 

Jim Woods said the money could be kept in the Water Fund but the decision not to refund seems to eliminate the Water Fund by moving it to the General Fund Reserve.

 

Wooten said there is new legislation coming that would allow a reserve fund balance based on a legislative decision.

 

Clark said if they paid off the Software lease, Radio lease, and the 1999 COPS and did the most expensive police option they would have $3 million left.  If revenues go down $1 million per year it would last for three years.

 

Ostermiller said there would not be any money going into the Special Projects fund.

 

Clark said if they did Option 3 and paid down the debt they would have $5 million left giving them about $16 million in unrestricted reserves.

 

Taylor said paying off the debt, saving the money and using the interest would offset the payments for that same debt.

 

Brinkman said $12 million is a lot of money to us but to a City that uses $4 million per month…..she supported some sort of mix.  Police has to be our priority and construction costs are lower now.

 

Scott Brown, consultant, said he was thinking the same.  There are other municipalities that have plans but don’t want to pull the trigger – the prices are going down – when is the best time – it is the best time now but what about the next two years.

 

Brinkman said whatever we do the leftover needs to be protected.

 

Woods said if they moved the money into the Capital Project Fund there’s an immediate corresponding effect on the General Fund.  They transfer $500,000 annually from the General Fund to the Capital Projects Fund and if Building Permit fees don’t come in we may have to transfer $1 million per year…..we may be able to reduce the transfer.

 

Cole asked if it could be a restricted reserve and Woods said it would have to be done by policy.

 

Jose thought the use of the money was similar to TABOR money – the citizens want some honesty as to how it will be spent.  Clark agreed that there should be designated uses for the money.

 

Ostermiller thought it was irresponsible to spend the money while everyone else is cutting back. 

 

Clark moved to designate $3 to $6 million of the Water Fund for police facilities.  Taylor seconded.  Taylor said he came prepared to make a decision on the police building and to eliminate some options.

 

Ostermiller said they had not looked at implications of moving all the fire department out of the City Center and expand the City Center to the west for other space needs.

 

Woods asked if the Council wanted staff to return with an Ordinance to transfer $6 million to Capital Projects?  Vote was 7/0.

 

Clark moved to designate money from the Water Fund to pay off the Software lease, the police radio lease, and the 1999 COPS.  Jose seconded.

 

Brinkman asked what the down side would be – Clark said less in reserves and Ostermiller said as low as interest rates are they can only go up once the credit thing is straightened out so we could be losing future opportunities.  Cole thought they should sit tight for a couple of months to see how things get worked out.

 

Jose said there is nothing wrong with paying off debt ahead of time.  We can’t take a chance that tomorrow will be better – it might not be.  Motion passed 4/3 with Mulvey, Ostermiller and Cole dissenting.

 

Taylor moved that the remaining money be transferred into the Capital Project Fund as designated reserves.  Clark seconded.    Motion passed 7/0

 

Staiert clarified that when it comes back to Council it will take 5 votes to pay off the obligations.

 

Back to Police Options –

 

Taylor preferred Option 1 and said the parking lot would need to be expanded to the west. 

 

Brinkman preferred Option 5 and would like the staff to take a serious look at it.

 

Clark made a motion to offer $3.2 million for the Mineral building.  Jose seconded.  Mulvey said he likes Option 5 and wants to see a follow up. 

 

Ostermiller said he could not support it.  Moving half of the City Center there does not help downtown and doesn’t make sense.  He preferred Option 1 or 2.

 

Cole said there was no harm in doing this – there was potential for part of the building to be rented.  She would like to see Option 1 and 2 dropped from consideration.

 

Clark only wants to do what is needed for the Police right now.

 

Taylor said there will be substantial cost to getting the building up to speed.  The building is not very secure – enclosed in glass and it would take a lot of money to make it safe.  If police, fire and dispatch move over IS can move into that area but there is no relief for the other departments.

 

Brinkman said when they move out the police they gain 17,000 square feet at the City Center.

 

Motion passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting.

 

Jose moved to eliminate Option 4.  Taylor seconded.  Motion passed 7/0.

 

Ostermiller moved to eliminate Option 3 and Jose seconded.  Brinkman said it was another solution that did not solve the police problems.  Clark thought it was better to have the police in the same location and thought the police could survive with this solution even though it was not ideal.  Motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

 

Ostermiller offered another option.  Take Option 1 and add square footage but locate it on the south side of the current building believing that city activities should be in the same location.  Taylor seconded.  Cole amended the motion for the work not begin on this until after Option 5 had been explored.  She was assured that it would not so she withdrew her amendment.  Motion passed failed 3/4 with Clark, Brinkman, Jose and Mulvey dissenting.

 

Taylor moved to eliminate Option 2.  Brinkman seconded.  Taylor said it was not cost effective.  Motion passed 7/0

 

Taylor moved to explore Option 1 with an expansion of the parking on the west side of the drive and include the Emergency Planning Center with additional square footage.  Clark seconded.  Scott Brown was concerned they were focusing on square footage rather than bringing in a design team to evaluate the drainage issues and location issues.  Motion failed 0/7.

 

Taylor moved to bring in a design team to look at expanding on the City Center site with added space for the Emergency Planning Center and expanded parking.  Ostermiller seconded.  Cole said she could not support it until they revisited Ostermiller’s motion – I don’t think we should be backed into this.  Motion passed 5/2 with Brinkman and Cole dissenting.

 

Discuss Priorities for Study Sessions and Council Outreach

 

I will post the final version once it is published.

 

Open Forum for Any Council Topic

Brinkman wanted to discuss the attendance of Board and Commission members at an upcoming council meeting. 

 

Needed to determine what questions would be asked at the interviews for Board and Commissions.

 

Taylor wanted to discuss not sending DRCOG $1,000 and use the money to host the National League of Cities at the Littleton Museum with a western theme.  Additional expenses would come out of the Council’s budget.

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3 Responses

  1. I have been a resident in Littleton my whole life (except for a few years out of state for the Air Force) and I’m offended that your taking all this money and not giving it back to the people of Littleton. You know I voted for Debbie Brinkman during the nightmare situation with Walmart, now I’m feeling betrayed. The whole reason we tried to stop Walmart was to stop wasteful government spending and backroom deals. Now, I’ve been hearing on top of this shady deal that Debbie wants to De-Bruce and undo TABOR!? For shame. Why don’t you take your liberal spending ways and get off our council and go back to Boulder!

    • Your note implies that the money would get returned to every taxpayer in Littleton and that is not accurate. It would only be returned to those people who paid into the fund and if you have been in Littleton all your life there’s only a snowball’s chance in you know where that you paid into the fund. The direction Council has decided to go actually returns the money to each and every citizen in Littleton but in a way that enhances our community by providing early payment of debt and finally addressing the space needs of the police.

      The Council has had several discussions about the Water Fund money and what to do with it. Returning it would be a nightmare for these reasons.

      1. Most of the money would go to developers – some of whom no longer exist. Additionally, the developers got the return on their investment because they turned around and charged their customers for the expense of the water tap.

      2. There is the question about the interest on that money which no longer exits because previous councils spent it. Would payees be satisfied with their original investment or their investment plus interest for the past 15+ years? Returning the water tap fee without interest just might land the City in Court.

      3. Any homeowner that can prove they paid the tap fee will also get their investment back when they sell their home. If the City returns the money to them they stand to “double dip” because when they sell their home they will recover their initial expense – therefore, collecting twice.

      4. What do you do with the money not distributed because the original contributors can’t be found?

      5. How much time and money do you expend in trying to find the original payers knowing that it would be like finding a needle in a haystack? Do we try to track them down somewhere in the US or do we look worldwide? IF the money is returned to one party it has to be returned to all parties or the City will find themselves in Court!

      6. What do you do about those that say they paid but don’t have their original paperwork to provide proof?

      This Council, and previous Councils, has been waiting for the Supreme Court to decide what can be done with the Water Fund money. They now have an answer and are faced with the problems of how to distribute the money to the original payers or doing something with the money for the good of every citizen in Littleton. They unanimously decided, given the complexities of refunding the money, to do something with the money that would benefit each and every taxpayer in Littleton.

      Some of the money will go towards public safety – providing the police with the facilities that they need and deserve to have. Once the police have more room the rest of the staff at City Center will have more room themselves which is sorely needed, particulary if Option 5 becomes reality.

      Some of the money will go to pay down debt. This is good since some of the debt has been paid for by the interest earned on the Water Fund in the past and will no longer be available.

      And some of the money will be kept for a rainy day.

      If you feel strongly about this, you have a voice. The Council has not taken action on this money and will have the First Reading on Tuesday, February 17th. After the First Reading there will be a Second Reading – most likely on March 3rd. Exercise your right to address Council. Stand up and be heard! This Council, unlike any other in recent past, is very open to hearing from citizens, and they actually listen!

      As far as TABOR, if you were paying attention during the Council’s discussion on the TABOR excess Debbie Brinkman voted for the citizens to have a voice on if the money should be returned to the taxpayers or kept by the City. Furthermore, Brinkman was successful in making sure the TABOR excess was earmarked for specific projects and not just money to be tossed in with the rest of the General Fund to be spent willy-nilly. Without the specificity of how the funds would be spent the TABOR election might have gone the other way. Regardless, the citizens determined if the money should be spent or returned – the Council just gave us a choice to decide rather than deciding for us.

      Lastly, I don’t know where you came up with the idea that Brinkman was from Boulder! She has shown that she is a fiscal conservative and based on the fact they she holds quarterly meetings with her constituents in District IV (only council member to do so) she is truly dedicated to representing us at each and every council meeting.

      Get a grip and start paying attention

  2. James, I would encourage you to pay closer attention. Here’s a quick fact check –

    1. The whole reason I fought Wal-Mart was that it was wrong development in the wrong location. If you had a different reason for opposing it I respect that but please don’t speak for me. I made my position very clear throughout the entire battle. Others may have had other reasons but the battle was waged on the single reason of location.

    2. I will never support de-TABORing. The recent election was not a de-TABOR. It was a citizens choice as to whether they wanted the money back or they wanted the city to spend it on specific projects (which I made certain were detailed on the ordiance). The citizens spoke. That’s what I support.

    3. I am a native of Denver. I have lived in Aurora and Littleton. I have never lived in Boulder. I have visited, twice.

    4. I am not a liberal. Not that it should matter what my affiliation is since municipal government is non-partisan. But for those few who don’t know, I am a registered Republican.

    5. If you want to know more about me – watch the meetings and see for yourself what I say and how I vote. Making decisions about someone based on what you’ve “been hearing” is cheating yourself.

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