Citizen Minutes – 12.15.2105 Regular Council Meeting

Citizen Minutes                          Regular City Council Meeting                         15 December 2015

This meeting was very interesting – the exchange between Michael Penny and Doug Clark during Reports is important.

Public Comment

Jeanie Erickson told the council that she did not believe impact fees could be used to fund the proposed fire station.

Carol Brzeczek read from the Impact Fee state law that states “No impact fee or other similar development charge shall be imposed to remedy any deficiency in capital facilities that exists without regard to the proposed development.”

And council’s own policy stated the need for nexus between the fees collected and the impact of the new development. She finished by reading a quote from Michael Penny, “You can’t use (impact fees) for existing system deficiencies. The fact that the municipality does not maintain their system to an adequate level does not mean you can charge the new development for making that up.”

She did not think it was adhering to the law to use the impact fees from Littleton Village, the Meadows at Platte Canyon or Littleton Commons to fund a fire station at TM.

Consent Agenda – items passed on a 7/0 vote

  • Designate 5736 S Bemis St as a historic landmark on first reading.
  • Contract with State of Colorado to fund a historic building survey for the Littleton Boulevard Corridor
  • Agreement regarding the final design and construction of drainage and flood control improvements for Little’s Creek at Gallup Street between the city and the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.
  • Resolution to affirm the City of Littleton Three Mile Plan

5d) Resolution approving an interfund loan of $725,000 from the Capital Projects Fund to the Transportation Impact Fee Fund for the East Dry Creek and South Broadway transportation improvements.

Doug Clark moved to table item 5d until after the other budget items had been presented. He did not receive a second. Debbie Brinkman moved to approve an interfund loan of $725,000 from the Capital Projects Fund to the Transportation Impact Fee Fund for the East Dry Creek and South Broadway transportation improvements. Phil Cernanec seconded and motion was passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

5e) Resolution approving an $893,000 interfund loan from the Capital Projects Fund to the Facilities, Police and Fire Impact Fee Funds for the Station 19 construction project.

Doug Clark had also pulled item 5e from the consent agenda stating that he did not understand how impact fees could be used for TrailMark when TrailMark was completely built out. Impact fees are to be used to address growth attributable to new development and the lack of a fire station in TrailMark was clearly an issue since the development was built. Clark said council’s own ordinance required a rough proportionality between the fee charged and the expected impact of new development. And a nexus was required between the project and the development and unless impact fees were going to be collected from residents of TrailMark he did not see how impact fees could be used to pay for a fire station in TrailMark. He said that their own ordinance states that impact fees are to be used for expenses attributable to new development. He said the state law says that no impact fees shall be used to pay for a deficiency that existed before the development. Unless the impact fees were collected from TrailMark it was far fetched to be using current impact fees for this project and he said that Resolution before them was not true.

Cernanec moved to move this item to the General Business portion of the agenda as he expected some comments made will help respond to some of what Clark is challenging.

Bruce Beckman agreed and moved the item to General Business.

Second Reading

5a.) Lease purchase agreement between the City of Littleton and Motorola Solutions for radio equipment at a cost of $2,305,000 over eight years. Motion approved 7/0

5b.) Ordinance to amend Ordinance No. 38-2014 known as the Annual Appropriation Bill for all municipal purposes for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2015 and ending December 31, 2015. Doug Farmen, director of finance, said this is a clean up bill. He recommended increasing the budget by a total of $4,190,000.

$2,100,000 transferred from the General Fund to the Capital Projects Fund.

Increase the Capital Projects Fund by $75,000 to cover the city’s portion of the Littleton Village Transportation improvements.

Transportation Impact Fee Fund – 920,000 for Littleton Village transportation improvements

$200,000 for a streetscape plan for Littleton Blvd. (a consultant’s fee to tell us what Main Street should look like! – plan is supposed to be from Broadway to the end of Main St but it was stated that it was mostly about Main Street.

Consolidated Special Revenue Fund – additional funds for wild land fire expenses

$450,000 for Open Space – the Riverside Downs project overrun ($300,000), Parks and Rec Master Plan ($90,000), trail rent to the State ($45,000) and additional funding for the Creekside Experience ($15,000)

So Metro Area Communications Center Fund – $70,000

Property and Liability Insurance Fund – $350,000

Clark asked about the Riverside Downs project if it was complete. He was told that it was to which he replied so, we spent the money before it was appropriated? Farmen told Clark the council was informed but there had not been an approval.

He added that spending funds that had not been appropriated was illegal and they have no obligation to pay. He asked who the contracting officer was for the project; Farmen said Deputy City Mgr Mike Braaten.

Clark then asked about the streetscape plan because it had changed completely from the last time it was in front of council and some of the activities could not be done in time, for instance, a parking study to be done the Thursday or Friday before Christmas and another in January. Jocelyn Mills, Community Development Director, approached the council to respond to Clark’s questions. Clark said they were being asked to approve a contract that clearly won’t work If the appropriation is approved the money will not be available until 7 days after the approval which is not in time for the traffic study. We are being asked to approve a contract that won’t work. Mills told Clark the idea was to do the project as a whole with several components around the holidays. Clark said, so the parking study will not happen and Mills said it would. Brinkman said that she and Jerry Valdes were the council members working on this and the new contract in front of council contained incredible improvements and she was comfortable – it was just clean up.

Valdes said he was not real comfortable with the new contract – it has very little to do with Littleton Blvd – it is more about Main Street but he was willing to go with the contractor.

Public Hearing –

Lou Sullivan did not want to speak but opposed the expenditure.

Pam Chadbourne said not enough had been heard about this new plan and what she read did not have any community outreach. She said that in the last three years or so special interest committees had been set up with participants picked outside the public view. She said regular people need to be involved – people that live in the downtown area. She was not comfortable giving this administration and this council approval to go through this study without more specifics. She asked that the people who are impacted to be involved. She did not trust the process and for good reason.

Brinkman said one of the reasons they are changing contractors is because of the community outreach. Cernanec said community outreach will happen.

Valdes asked about Littleton Blvd – Mills said the first part is research, fact finding and inventory. The public and stakeholders process will begin in 2016.

Motion was made to approve the clean up ordinance by Cernanec and seconded by Brinkman.

Clark said he would be a no vote as he did not want to violate state law. The streetscape plan was never approved by council and now a new contract has been submitted after the other one was approved on first reading. He believes the Historic Preservation Board, and the Planning Board should be involved and this should not be a unilateral decision where the trees go, and the downtown furniture goes. It is a waste of money.

Valdes asked the attorney if they were violating the state law. She said they were amending the appropriation bill for appropriations council made. Valdes said he was still uncomfortable changing contractors and moved to table this item to Jan. 5th. Peggy Cole seconded. After a short discussion this motion was withdrawn and a motion was made to exclude the $200,000 streetscape plan from the main motion. That motion passed 7/0 and the main motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

 

Fire Station at TrailMark

Chief Armstrong made a presentation why the new station is needed. More growth, the land was dedicated for a fire station years ago. It bothered him that TrailMark wasn’t being served by the city’s fire department. And a March 2014 study recommended two additional stations. It has been 18 years since the last fire staion was built and 18 years without change is a long time. The partnership with Lockheed Martin (LM) presented a unique opportunity.

A doctor testified as to the important of a quick response time for medical emergencies.

Joe Rice, LM Director of HR, told council that LM did not have paramedics, only 21 firemen.

Valdes asked how many employees, about the two pieces of equipment LM would be donating, about the unique materials at LM (you just don’t throw water on every fire), and about security clearances.

Clark asked why the Highland Ranch Fire District (HRFD) wasn’t participating in the partnership.   The Chief said they did not feel there are any benefits for them. We will be collecting data and hope to show them the benefits.

Clark asked if Littleton Fire provided any service outside of the city limits. The answer is no. Clark said if LM was using the Littleton Fire Protection District (LFPD) (this is not the city fire service – this is another entity like the HRFPD – they serve areas around Littleton that are not in the city limits. Their customers pay a specific mill levy to be protected by these two agencies. They use Littleton dispatch and LFPD shares some equipment costs with the city. Littleton residents are served by Littleton Fire and we do not pay a specific mill levy for fire service; our property taxes cover this expense. The point Clark is making is LM will be the first time the city is responsible for fire service outside the city limits.)   Clark said it appears that the $300,000 that LM will be paying (with 2% increase per year for 15 years) does not even cover the cost of the salaries of the 6 firefighters Littleton will be hiring from LM. LM is 15 times the size of TrailMark and has 3 to 4 times the assessed value. The standard procedure would be for LM to be annexed into the Littleton Fire Protection District and pay like the other patrons based on the mill levy.

Joe Rice said they would not be interested because this arrangement provides them service at a much lower cost.

Clark said he recognized that LM is getting a great deal – $300,000 won’t even get you 6 entry level firemen. It is a terrible deal for Littleton.

Rice said no entity would pay more than what they are already paying so no one loses. If LM did not partner the city would be left with the status quo or be paying West Metro with longer response times. It is mutually beneficial.

 

Public Hearing

Several TM residents spoke in favor.

Cernanec moved to approve the contract contingent on construction approval. Brinkman seconded.

Clark said everyone is concerned about the TM citizens but how to pay and how much to pay are the concerns. LM has more calls per year than TM and they will be paying substantially less than what they should pay so citizens get to pay for this twice. Littleton citizens will be subsidizing service to LM.

Cernanec thought it was a good deal and an innovative approach.

Cole asked why there wasn’t a cost of living increase each year. The Chief said it was a contract for service only and that is what they felt was fair. Motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

5e) Approval of an $893,000 interfund loan from the Capital Projects Fund to the Facilities, Police, and Fire Impact Fee Funds for the Station 19 construction project.

Clark said they could not use impact fees to fix TM. Impact fees can’t be used outside of the city limits. Putting a station in TM will not help response times for the rest of the city.

Bill Hopping disagreed. He said Littleton Village creates problems with TM and the impact fees did not have to be spent right there. We have an obligation to be creative.

Brinkman said this is a new facility; we are not shoring up existing facilities. (The Chief made a similar statement – something to the effect that using impact fees had to be on new construction only. Not according to the consultant who said impact fees could be used for expansion of current facilities or for new.)

Valdes asked if TM paid impact fees when it was built. (Answer is no – impact fees were not codified until 2001 or 2002) Penny told them it could be argued that the land dedicated to the fire station was in lieu of fees.

Cole disagreed with Penny but supported the station. She asked why they are using impact fees.

Penny said impact fees could only be used for new capital and if the city doesn’t have the opportunity to spend the money on anything else they wanted to use it this way. (Since he said it again – here’s what the law says about how the impact fees can be spent. “capital facility” means any improvement or facility that is directly related to any service that a local govt is authorized to provide…. There is nothing in the law that states the expenditure has to be on something new.) He said it is legal.

Cole had a difference of opinion from other legal entities on this and she did not want to use the impact fees.

Motion passed 5/2 with Cole and Clark dissenting.

6d) Annual appropriation Bill for all municipal purposed for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2016 and ending Dec. 31, 2016. 

Carol Brzeczek , earlier in the meeting, spoke about the process used to get so far down the road with a contract with LM, a site selected, a plan drawn, funding scheme in place, and a construction company ready to go to work – all without public discussion. She did not understand how a two-person committee working with staff could make those decisions without the involvement of the rest of council.

Cernanec moved to approve and Brinkman seconded. Then Brinkman said she was incredibly confused – there was no illegal committee. She met with TM and engaged them in the conversation. Bruce Stahlman was the liaison from the council to the fire partners. They were just fulfilling their responsibilities.

Clark asked Mark Relph, public works, how much had ben spent to date on the project. Ralph said $25,000. Clark commented that they could not spend money that was not appropriated.

Motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

6e) Ord to approve a construction contract for Fire Station 19 with Golden Triangle Construction.

Relph gave a presentation on the construction of the project. Clark asked again about the costs that had been incurred up to this point in time. Relph said the city has encumbered quite a bit more in costs – approximately $85,000.

Brzeczek again spoke about the process and addressed Brinkman’s confusion about the two member committee. Penny was quoted in the Littleton Independent that there had been a two-member committee working on this station for almost a year. Former mayor Cernanec said the two members were Brinkman and Stahlman. Just to set the record straight! She also reminded the council that they were told that impact fees could not be used to resolve a parking problem at Bemis Library because the parking problem is an existing deficiency. Using that example, how could they use impact fees to resolve the existing deficiency at TM?

Pam Chadbourne reminded the council that they are doing the citizen’s business an they needed to consider what citizens have to contribute. $85,000 was not in the budget – why not? She suggested that some of the impact fees for transportation could be used to mitigate some of the grid lock on our streets. Certainly the emergency services were impacted by the traffic. The process they used excluded the public – why did you hide the process?

Motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

6f) Ord concerning aggressive begging and solicitation on or near streets or highways.

Clark suggested that this ordinance could probably be eliminated from the books. It will be brought back to council at a later date. Motion passed 7/0.

6g) Ord on second reading to approve a third amendment to the lease for 1221 West Mineral Ave   Passed 7.0

 

Citizen Comments

Robin Swartzbacker addressed the council. She said:

The Council’s Vision Statement says – To preserve a family-oriented and economically vibrant community that encourages citizen involvement,…

This evening I’d like to focus on this aspect of the Vision Statement, encouraging citizen involvement.  I have heard individuals on the Council also say they desire more citizen participation.

Council Protocols and Standards of Conduct reinforce this Vision by stating Council should make the public feel welcome.

Well, I agree with you. So I am here to make a specific request that will enhance the opportunity for citizen involvement, and that is to have written minutes of the meetings. We live in a technological world and having the meetings videotaped is great, unfortunately it is not practical for us to only have a video recordings. Let me explain why this actually discourages citizen participation.

The Council and its boards greatly affect how the people of Littleton live.  Our quality of life in this community is dependent upon the decisions made in this room and the people have a right to easy access of what is said and done here.

Unfortunately we do not have easy access to the meetings proceedings. We have access, but not easy access. We are busy people, we have jobs, friends, outside commitments, many volunteer or are raising a family. And yes, we even want to spend time having fun.

Therefore it is not reasonable to expect citizens to spend hours each week watching video recordings of Council and board meetings if they want to stay abreast of what is happening with Littleton’s government. We should instead have written minutes so we can read them in a timely manner and continue on with our day. Written minutes are also easy to re-read and cross reference, whereas videos are not.

It is not only the huge time commitment that makes watching the videos counterproductive to citizen participation. As I spent three hours watching the Council’s Study Session last week I was very frustrated because several times the audio feed went out. I missed entire statements that could change the understanding of the proceedings because the audio was silent.

Having to slog through hours of videos on a weekly basis to learn what the Council and the boards are up to discourages citizen participation which is contrary to the Council’s Vision Statement to encourage involvement.

Therefore I ask the Council to please provide us with written minutes of the meetings as a movement towards the goal of more citizen involvement. And I ask this on a personal note as someone newly involved and overwhelmed with the amount of time it takes to watch all these videos!
Thank-you.

Reports

City Manger Penny said Resolution 4-2007 authorizes the city manager and the finance director to transfer any unencumbered appropriation balance or portion thereof from one classification of expenditure to another within the same department up to $100,000 per transaction and over that would require city council approval. So there’s no, council member Clark used the word malfeasance, and I’d point out, myself and the staff operate under the ICMA code of ethics and we take our job very seriously.

Hopping said he agreed with the comments made during the meeting and he would prefer to have study sessions when significant issues come forward so he would have the opportunity to discuss them in advance.

Clark responded to Penny’s remark. The Charter says and the resolution says the city manager can transfer unexpended appropriations from one category expenditure to another within the same department of budgeted funds.

We budget at the line item level especially in the Capital Projects fund. What happened was money was expended out of the 2015 budget for a line item that did not exist. The line item Mr. Farmen gave is not in either the 2015 budget or the 2016 budget. So you have the authority up to $100,000 to transfer unused, unexpended appropriations from one already appropriated line item to another line item appropriation. Which means, for example, if the $300,000 overage on the Riverside Downs had been $100,000 and you had another $100,000 from another project you could transfer that to cover with that. That does not mean you can create a brand new line item on your own and spend money from it. That is beyond what your authority is and it gets us into exactly the situation we’ve had where we’ve encumbered up to $85,000 on a fire station before the council ever officially voted to approve the fire station.

So we need to be very careful on how we spend and appropriate the money. Doug Farmen does an outstanding job with the finance department. He is very competent. My experience with them is they very rarely make mistakes and he is very dedicated. But that doesn’t change the fact that we cannot just create new projects, or more specifically, the staff cannot create brand new projects and spend money on brand new projects before it comes to the council and is officially approved by the council.

 

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