Littleton City Council Meeting Citizen Minutes – June 9, 2009

Citizen Minutes

Special Meeting      Littleton City Council

Tuesday June 9, 2009

 Two items were added to the agenda – the first to discuss a meeting with the car dealers and the second to discuss a response to the Littleton Leadership Retreat’s request for a Council/Staff representative.

 a)  Meeting with Car Dealers – Doug Clark told the Council that he and John Ostermiller were at the South Metro Chamber and heard from John Brackney that the car dealers have issues with the City.  Jim Woods said there are issues with the car dealerships among the people that live around the dealerships such as the loudspeakers, the off loading of transports on South Broadway, customers test driving cars in the neighborhoods and lighting issues.  Woods asked if the staff should be prepared and if so they would need some direction.  Clark thought the issue was more along the lines of does the City value them.  Woods said when you ask specifically why they feel this way it comes down to the unloading of transports blocking traffic on Broadway and issues with the lighting ordinance.  “Love is in the eye of the beholder.”  Woods will try to arrange a breakfast with the Council and dealers on June 23 or 30th.

 b)  Travel Rewards and Council Code of Conduct – Doug Farmen reported that they had sent out several letters to travel agencies about handling all travel arrangements for the City.  Travel Organizers was the only agency to respond.  Farmen presented the following.

 1.  What happened to Council member Trujillo’s frequent flyer program suggestion?  Council member Trujillo suggested that the City donate frequent flyer miles to Littleton residents that have family members in the military.  There is an “Operation Hero Miles” authorized by law that the City could participate in.  Please let me know if you would like to pursue this program, once we’ve collected some frequent flyer miles.

 2.  Would it benefit the City to use a local travel agency?  We’ve completed some research on this concept.  We disbursed a Statement of Work to six travel agencies with Littleton business addresses.  One agency didn’t respond, two agencies felt unqualified, and two agencies only work in the luxury travel service area.  The response we received was from a travel agent sponsored by American Express.  Here is a summary of their program:

 They have a per ticket fee but a money back guarantee for overall fees so there are no out-of-pocket costs to the City

  • They are willing to work with each individual traveler
  • The City can earn travel rewards (air and hotel)
  • Less staff time will be needed since the travel agent can shop for more competitive prices on air, hotels, and car rentals
  • The City can pay for bookings with the City p-card to accrue p-card rebates
  • They will help us establish Frontier and United Reward Corporate Programs to accrue frequent flyer miles for City usage
  • They have advanced technology and reporting tools

 

Tom Mulvey said he liked what Farmen had presented – the traveler would just email their requirements and the agency would take care of all the arrangements reducing staff time.

 Jose asked about the travel miles coming back to the City and Farmen said they could and if Council wanted they could look into the Hero Miles Program.  Jose was in favor of the Hero Miles Program. 

 Debbie Brinkman asked where the frequent flyer miles go now?  The response was they either disappear or go to the traveler.

 Clark asked if they bought the lowest priced ticket the ticket would end up costing more because of the fee.  How do you define the lowest fare?

 Farmen suggested they try using the agency for a few months and then reevaluate.

 John Ostermiller asked how much was spent on air travel last year and Farmen said about $28,000.  Ostermiller said that was not a major expense and was concerned with Frontier’s three tiered rate structure and the charging for luggage – the cheapest fare would increase with the price to check luggage.  He preferred to let the employee or supervisor determine the best travel arrangements.

 Mulvey moved to use Travel Organizers for a 6 month time period.  Jose seconded.

 Clark asked about how many free tickets the City would earn per year and Farmen said about 2 or 3 but he hoped to see more savings for the City by using an agency.

 Clark said there was no real downside to using an agency.

Jim Taylor, who travels more than all council members put together, said he preferred to sit down with an agent and he did not know if it would work over the phone with someone he did not know.

Peggy Cole asked how many people will travel in the next 6 months.  Farmen said there may not be sufficient travel in the next 6 months because of budget constraints.  If there isn’t sufficient travel we can push the trial period to 12 months.

 Motion passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting.

 Ethics and Conduct – Suzanne Staiert was asked to draft a set of guidelines for the council’s consideration.  She also included a section on the Council budget that would divide the budget into equal allocations for each councilmember.  If a Council member was elected to an office that required travel the travel would come from another Council budget.  After subtracting out an amount for travel each council member would have about $3,000. 

 Clark moved to delete Appendix A (the section on budget) from the document.  Ostermiller seconded.

 Clark believed it was the citizen’s job to let a council member know when they are not acting appropriately.  He did not approve of City Council reprimanding other council members.  It is not our responsibility – it is the citizen’s responsibility.  There is no solution needed – it is self-regulating.

 Taylor said he did not see anything wrong with Appendix A.

 Brinkman said she did not see anything wrong with it either – it states the way we currently behave but we are not the last City Council.  It is a good idea to have formal guidelines.  You get elected and you don’t have a lot of information – it is assumed from year to year.  It is a good document and it is appropriate.

 Clark asked about G – the section dealing with violations and penalty.  Staiert said what was presented was just an example. 

 Brinkman said she agreed that the citizens have the responsibility but in a practical sense how many citizens will look at an expense report and double check – this is for worse case scenarios – it could happen.

 Clark said the normal way for it to be handled would be someone would alert the newspaper and the reporter calls for the information and you have a juicy story.  I don’t want to be called upon to judge another council person.

 Mulvey thought it was a good idea to have guidelines.

 Cole asked about a provision that would pay for a spouse or family member on special occasions – she wanted to know what that might be.  Staiert said some national recognition but it would still be up to the council to approve the expense.

 Clark asked about a table purchased for the Littleton Foundation – would the Council need to approve the expenditure for spouses?  Staiert said the code specified conferences.

 Ostermiller hated to see the Council’s budget get divvied up to individuals.  We are a group and we work together as a group.

 Brinkman asked if a councilmember doesn’t travel can the money be used in other ways.  She has been holding district meetings since she was elected and has never been able to get budget to cover postage for meeting notices.

 Clark said it would be up to Council – the history shows a concern for using the meetings to campaign.  The City and Council have been very careful to avoid campaign finance violations.

 Brinkman commented that they provide money for out of state travel but don’t allow money to meet with constituents.  We don’t have an effective media in Littleton.  I am serving – not running – and it would benefit every council member to have some money for citizen outreach.  All of our money is spent on going out of state right now.

 Clark thought that was a budget discussion.

 Ostermiller said that was fine for district people but to have 3 at-large forums – that’s why Council reached a compromise to have Council outreach.  There’s no way we could put on a forum for the whole city.

 Cole said she liked having the guidelines but would like to strike portions. 

 Motion failed on 3/4 vote with Brinkman, Cole, Jose and Mulvey dissenting.

 Ostermiller moved to have comments from Council members on Appendix A sent to Staiert for discussion at a later time.  Brinkman seconded.  Motion passed 5/2 with Mulvey and Jose dissenting.

 c)  Discussion of Letter from Flo Bullock – Cole read the letter from Flo stating that the Littleton Leadership Retreat began in 1975 to bring the citizens together to discuss community issues.  The tentative subject for the 2010 retreat is “Your City, Your Dollars”.  She asked for a representative from staff and council to serve on the planning committee.

 Cole said it was a nice invitation but she would personally like to see it in the community rather than a council or staff led activity.  They have fairly good participation from the community as she understands.

 Ostermiller said he had been involved in the 80’s.  He thought it would be good to have the City represented on the committee to answer questions and if they needed information.  It is really unique to this area and involves everyone in the LPS and South Suburban boundaries.  He suggested that Phil Cortese be appointed.

 Mulvey thought that was a good idea.

 Woods said Cortese is a good candidate but based on the subject Farmen might be more appropriate.

 Brinkman said she had lived in Littleton for 8 years and only heard about this group since her involvement with Council.  She didn’t know anyone who has ever attended until she was elected and met some politicos that have gone.  I don’t know enough about them to support them at this time.

 Ostermiller said they have speakers and breakout sessions – it is always in the newspaper.

 Cole said she went last year and found with worthwhile – she liked the community involvement.

 Ostermiller said every year he has attended the Chair has been a community member – it is always a committee made up of citizens.

 Cole said it is one thing to provide resources for the group but that can be done without appointing a person.

 Brinkman asked how much staff time they could take – we have a City to run and there’s a practical consideration.

 Cole suggested that Woods could determine how much time to allocate to the group.

 Taylor moved to nominate Farmen to the group and Mulvey seconded.

 Clark said he valued the community getting together but cutting across South Suburban, LPS and the City is a problem for him.  If council members want to volunteer to serve that is fine but when we appoint someone it gives tacit approval and that is different.  I have a problem with the topic – bringing in people that do not live within the City to discuss the City’s tax structure and services, or whether or not we should be de-Taboring is not appropriate.  If they want to do it fine but do it like any other group.  We have a number of discussion groups in the City and it is not wise to single out one and treat them differently.

 Ostermiller said perhaps we should not allow any staff to attend Frank’s or Kristopeit’s meetings.  To single this group out and turn them down – we should say the same thing to Frank.

 Clark said this was different because Tom and Frank did not ask for an appointment.

 Ostermiller thought it was a very simple request.

 Brinkman said not appointing is different than not approving.

 Jose said he can’t approve the request.  There are a lot of people in LPS that are not in the City.  If they need information it can be supplied without an appointment.

 Mulvey said we had someone serving on Western Welcome Week.  Clark responded that WWW doesn’t have a political discussion to create policy. 

 Motion failed 3/4with Brinkman, Jose, Cole and Clark dissenting.

 Cole moved to ask the City Manager to respond to the letter that the City is happy to provide a source of information subject to availability.  Mulvey seconded.  Clark said it would be appropriate for the Council to respond since the letter was written to them.  Cole amended her motion that the Mayor respond.  Motion passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller dissenting.

 On the Main Motion – Ostermiller said we are going to tell them that after 30 years we are no longer involved – we are not giving this a very good and thorough evaluation.  The suggestions for more signage and depressing the railroad came out of this group – over the years there have been good ideas and just to write it off after starting it and providing services deserves more than the letter.

 Cole said she was disappointed in the way that Ostermiller phrased it – the citizens came up with the ideas and it is a wonderful activity but we don’t need to appoint to attend and support the meting.

 Taylor said he and Ostermiller were the only two in the room that had been on the committee and they have a different idea of what the group is. 

 Ostermiller said in the past it wasn’t important to appoint staff – “now the way it is they are scared to death of reaction of council that we don’t believe in this so staff’s not going to get involved.  That’s exactly what’s happened.”

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

 Council convened into an executive session for the City Manager’s and City Attorney’s evaluations.

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