Littleton City Council Minutes – 14 July 2009

Citizen Minutes

Special Meeting

Littleton City Council

Tuesday July 14, 2009

7:30 p.m.

John Ostermiller was absent.

1. Study Session Topics 

a) 7:30 p.m. Review Police Building Option #1 – Jim Woods said Option 1 is not a complete and total solution but a significant improvement for operations of the Police Department.  To send out a RFP/RFQ would add another 60 to 90 days to the process.

 Doug Clark said the first decision is whether or not to negotiate a contract or submit a RFP.  Debbie Brinkman asked if they were required to take the low bid and Woods said no – the charter states the lowest and best.

 Jim Taylor said he liked a RFP however he wasn’t sure, in these economic times, if the job would be bid.  Brinkman disagreed thinking these times would make the process more competitive.  She also liked the idea of having new ideas and some fresh thinking.

 Jose thought they needed to get moving.

 Woods suggested they negotiate with Intergroup.

 Taylor moved to direct staff to negotiate a contract for design on Option 1.  Tom Mulvey seconded.

 Peggy Cole asked if the design would be capable of an additional story at a later date.

 Woods said they will look at the possibilities.

 Cole also asked where the square footage numbers for the different functions came from and was told they were based on the old McClaren needs study with the addition of the Emergency Operations room and the Training room.  Motion passed 5/1 with Brinkman dissenting.

 Woods began the discussion on the schedule and budget options.  The cost for the Schematic Design and Design Development would be $75,000 to $90,000 which can be covered without dipping into the Water Fund.

 Taylor preferred to leave the Water Fund untouched and to use the contingency fund.

 Clark was in favor of going ahead with the Schematic Design which would not be completed until October sometime.  The 2010 budget process will be behind them and the decision to go or not to go forward can be made with confidence.

 Taylor agreed with Clark saying that the flip side of the economy is there might be some really good bids.  Clark said it was a fabulous time to build.

 Woods asked if there was a motion to direct the staff to negotiate a complete contract with Intergroup and come back to Council with funding authorization to transfer the money.  However the process should stop after the Schematic Design stage.  Clark so moved.  The consultant told the Council that these types of contracts usually have a way out at anytime.

 Woods said it will be 2 to 3 weeks for a contract to come back.  Brinkman said everyone wants to move fast and turned down the RFP.  We have been trying to get a solution for 10 years and we just lost one month in a 2 minute conversation.

 Woods said when a design is involved in Capital Projects it is not realistic to give a fast and hard date – we will go as fast as possible.  This is a reality check – there will be no guessing on the geo-tech engineering and the space will be drawn up.  Motion passed.

 b) 8:30 p.m. Policy discussion on process to fill mid-term vacancies on Boards & Commissions – Doug said there were 6 items to discuss.

 

1.  Attendance

2.  Life of an application

3.  Mid year appointments

4.  What is BIAAC’s job

5.  Notification

6.  Election of Chairs

 

Peggy Cole said some people will be surprised to see this discussion.  She thought notice should be on the agenda when a board or a commission was going to be discussed.  She moved to notify the department heads and board and commission members whenever their respective groups will be involved in an agenda item.  Jim Taylor seconded the motion and it passed 6/0.  

 

Election of Chairs – The rules state that the Chairs will be voted on during the first meeting in April and some groups would like to change that language in the City Code.  New members have stated that they would like to get to know the members of the committee better before they make the selection.  Taylor thought each board and commission should be able to decide for themselves when to elect their Chairs.  Clark moved to direct staff to bring what’s needed So the boards and commissions can elect their Chairs sometime other than April.  Cole seconded and motion passed 6/0.

 

Clark said an attendance policy does exist – The current policy requires the Chair of each board and commission to report any member with 3 consecutive absences or 4 in 12 consecutive months.  The policy exists but the Chairs are not reporting.  However attendance does show up on the records.

 

Brinkman said she was not sure the Chairs were aware of their responsibility to report.  As a liaison she has seen how it affects the groups.

 

Wendy, City Clerk, said each committee has a staff liaison that could report to the City Council liaison.

 

Brinkman thought that was a good idea.

 

Clark suggested that staff issue a report every 6 months on attendance and if there are concerns the Council will need to determine what to do.

 

Taylor said some groups operate under an excused absence policy.  Brinkman said current policy says the City Council will decide – excused or unexcused is not the point – the groups need members to attend.

 

Suzanne Staiert asked about the special meetings, workshops, and other group activities.

 

Clark said that is why the Council needs to look at each instance individually.  All the volunteers are good people – we just need to make them aware.

 

Brinkman thought it was important to formalize the process.  Members that don’t attend need to be aware that other people have to pick up the burden when they do not show.

 

Life of an Application – Taylor reviewed the time line of applications – they are submitted by the end of January, interviews in February and appointments in March.  By the time we appoint the application is 3 months old.  He proposed for vacancies occurring within 30 days or 6 weeks the Council could appoint a replacement from the list but by 6 months the applications are too old to be used.

 

Clark said he agreed in theory and they had struggled over vacancies over the years and it is dependent on the committee and the time of the year.  There’s a trade-off; how long ago the interview was and having a Chair of the Planning Commission that wants a position filled.  He did not remember having such a request in the past.  With absenteeism and vacancies some groups might not be able to get a quorum.

 

Cole said the quasi-judicial boards are more critical in filling and the learning curve is more challenging.  Do we need three alternates for the Planning Commission?

 

Brinkman thought they may need an alternate for all committees – someone in the wings to fill the vacancies.

 

Clark said all the quasi-judicial boards have alternates.

 

Brinkman said they needed to appoint someone to the Planning Commission but they did not have to fill the BIAAC but we need a policy.

 

Taylor said he did not want to appoint anyone to Planning Commission – they have 7 voting members and can still function if 2 people are absent.

 

Staiert said the Planning Commission is concerned with the ramp up time.

 

Clark asked if they should reopen the Planning Commission applications.

 

Taylor thought the only fair way to do it would be to open the process.

 

Brinkman agreed.

 

Cole said all the interviews are available for viewing by Council members.

 

Brinkman moved to open the application process for two weeks for Planning Commission and hold interviews with the applicants to determine an alternate.  Clark seconded.

 

Woods said the deadline for the Littleton Report was Monday and they were going to run into summer vacations.

 

Brinkman amended her motion to extend the two weeks to four. Cole seconded.  Motion failed 2/4 with Mulvey and Brinkman voting yes.

 

The main motion failed 1/5 with Brinkman the only yes vote.

 

Jose moved to appoint Gary _____ to Planning Commission.  Cole seconded.  Motion failed with Jose and Cole voting yes.

 

Taylor moved not to appoint anyone until the next interview cycle.  Jose seconded. 

 

Brinkman asked what kind of message does it send to one of our more crucial committees when the Chair asks for an alternate and the staff liaison saying they want it and we walk on eggs if a board and commission members misses six meetings and to do nothing is inappropriate.

 

Clark said if a Planning Commissioner got hit by a truck we would be forced to replace them.  The motion failed 3/3 with Taylor, Mulvey and Jose voting yes.

 

Cole moved to nominate Chris Gifford to the Planning Commission.  Motion failed for lack of second.

 

Brinkman moved to send a letter to the remaining applicants and let them know that interviews would be conducted and ask them to respond if they are still interested and to come in for a brief interview with the Council to take place within 4 weeks.  Cole seconded.  Motion failed 2/4 with Cole and Brinkman voting yes.

 

BIAAC – Chris Gibbons said historically the Code required BIAAC to advise his department and they have operated with a charge from the Council and reported back.  Should they continue to report to Council?

 

Clark asked what drove the discussion.

 

Brinkman said Ostermiller brought it up.

 

Clark said he preferred to postpone the discussion to a meeting when Ostermiller was present.

 

Brinkman said she thought Ostermiller was clear – he read from the Code about BIAAC and we have put this discussion off and we should come to some closure.

 

Taylor asked Gibbons if it was correct that in the past the appointments to BIAAC were made in categories so the advice given to the department was widespread from various business people and the Council relied on his department for recommendations for appointments to BIAAC.  I feel the same way about appointing the BIAAC tonight – when you look at the occupations of the people that were not appointed they are duplicating occupations of members that were appointed.

 

Mulvey liked the process where names were submitted by Gibbons and the Council would select members from those.

 

Clark said he would be blunt –philosophically he doesn’t care if people disagree with the appointments to boards – his concern is whether or not they will do a good job. Along with that, it is his expectation that people keep their personal politics out of board activities and when they don’t they need alternatives – get rid of them or change the direction of the board.  We have that with BIAAC – we have members who email other members targeting the Council on things not associated with BIAAC.  So my problem with BIAAC is I don’t want an annual report that is quoted in the papers to achieve the political aims of a subset of BIAAC.  The alternative is no annual report to be written and used in that way or to have more involvement of Council in who is on BIAAC and what they do.  I don’t much care if we go back to BIAAC working to advise Chris to further help business thrive in Littleton or if BIAAC picks their topic.  If it is the first I am okay with Chris coming up with names.  If it is the second the Council should be involved in picking the members so there is a wide range of viewpoints.  I don’t think John much cares either.

 

Brinkman asked Gibbons what level of support does his department reap from BIAAC- how crucial are they to BIA and the work you do?

 

Gibbons said they have historically made policy recommendations – they have not given our department a lot of advice.  However, we do pick up on things by just talking to them but they have not made specific recommendations to us.

 

Brinkman said Gibbons had a number of business groups that he meets with on a regular basis that keep him updated and those groups provide BIA with a great deal more support than BIAAC.  The number of BIAAC recommendations implemented is low.  I don’t want to be the one to shoot BIAAC but what are we doing with these people’s time?  Are these functions worth the time and money?  I don’t know if the group is needed – a key need in the City.  We need to look at this realistically – what do we get and what do they give – has it morphed into something else.  We may need to reevaluate.

 

Clark said if they have traditionally addressed policy issues rather than advising then it is important for Council to appoint and to develop the charge.

 

Cole asked Gibbons if there was something BIAAC could be doing for his department.

 

Gibbons said they were in contact with businesses all day long – that is what we do.   BIAAC could play a role as ambassador – outreach.  Debbie’s right – they are a little awash right now with no clear direction.  It is your committee.

 

Woods said other boards and commissions have specific functions that are tied to specific ordinances and legal processes.  Over the years BIAAC, more than any other, is tied to terms of policy.  What is in the code and how they function are two different things.  They were to be advisory but they have morphed into a policy extension of the Council.  Council said go look – frankly because of an active political issue.  Gibbons has lots of other outreaches.  The 20 years of annual charges have been more of a political context than a real program driven context.  This Council has been more aggressive with Council outreach and given that format is the purpose of BIAAC still pertinent?

 

Taylor said he was going to ask if they really needed BIAAC?

 

Brinkman read from the Code what BIAAC is to do and asked Gibbons what in the Code did he need from BIAAC?

 

Brinkman asked if they do it because we have always done it – maybe we don’t need it anymore and that’s okay.  She moved to dissolve BIAAC effective March 2010 in its current form.  Clark seconded.

 

Clark said it is issue versus policy and economic gardening policy is a better way to reach out to different types of business.

 

Taylor was interested in postponing the vote to give Woods and Gibbons time to go back and determine if this was a wise move.  Maybe it needs a restructured format – an economic development type of committee to look at in-fill and give them an opportunity to analyze the motion.

 

Brinkman said they heard from Woods and Gibbons tonight – there was no opposition.  It was cleaner to end this and if something else is needed we can create it.

 

Clark said he heard that BIAAC was a Council committee – Gibbons is not using them to interface with the community.  We are struggling to come up with a charge and they are too.

 

Mulvey agreed with Taylor that they should hold off for awhile.

 

Cole amended the motion to have the committee and planning commission make a statement about the proposed action.  This wasn’t announced so the public has not had a chance to talk to the Council.  (I don’t think this motion got a second.)

 

Woods told the Council that this would require an ordinance since it is part of the City Code.

 

Brinkman asked if her motion was out of order.  Staiert suggested she move to have an ordinance brought back to Council.  Taylor said he could support that – it would give BIAAC and the Planning Commission an opportunity to talk to Council.

 

Clark moved to modify brinkman’s motion to have an ordinance brought back to council on first reading to eliminate Biaac.  Brinkman seconded.  Motion passed 5/1 with Mulvey dissenting.  The main motion passed 5/1 with Mulvey dissenting.

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