City Council Study Session – 21 March 2017

City Council Study Session                   21 March 2017                   Citizen Minutes

Unification Update and Presentation from our Fire Partners

Chief Armstrong began the presentation stating that they recognize the challenges that exist with the IGAs (Intergovernmental Agreements) and they will be discussing options to sustain a strong partnership. They see a need for a third party to evaluate, analyze and communicate to get city council’s support to move forward with unification.  One of the fire partners said action needed to be taken in 2017.

A comparison of the equivalent mill levy for all the fire partners was shown as support for unification. The fire partners are facing their first year where their expenses will exceed their revenues.  (An explanation is needed here – the fire partners are districts and they get their funding through a mill levy on property values within their district.  Littleton, on the other hand, does not tax for fire services but spends general fund revenue (which is mostly derived from sales tax revenues) to provide services to Littleton residents.  The partnership that currently exists is with Highlands Ranch Fire Protection District and Littleton Fire Protection District.  Each year the partners are billed by the City of Littleton for their pro rata share of usage which is a formula involving number of calls for service and property values.  If the partners are exceeding their revenues they will have to go to their voters to request a mill levy increase.)

Bruce Beckman was worried about over promising and under achieving. Chief Armstrong said all three partners have agreed on a third party evaluation and they will share in the cost.

Tiffany Wooten, Finance Director, had done some analysis of taking the expenses for fire service in Littleton and translating that into a mill levy equivalent. She said it was more than South Metro’s 9.25 mills.  (South Metro is the fire district that the partners would like to join.)

Beckman was concerned about the timing – there are two options presented. Do nothing or join South Metro.  Mark Relph, acting city manager, said there may be other options that need to be played out.  Jerry Valdes said he wasn’t impressed by the last consultant hired and he wanted to know more about the one that would be used this time.  Relph said he would make information about the consultant available to the council.  The Chief said both Debbie Brinkman and Relph had talked to the consultant on the phone and they were very impressed.  The work could be done in 50 to 90 days.  Brinkman said they were very neutral and very objective and willing to speak with council members.  Doug Clark said costs are rising faster than they can sustain and it is difficult to manage three boards.  Littleton should get their own consultant as there are several other options available to Littleton than unifying with South Metro.  They may not be options for the two fire partners but might be better for Littleton.  Beckman told the partners they have done a good job at looking at their situation but it was time for Littleton to do the same.  We have different alternatives because we are organized differently.

One of the fire partners said going with Denver is not a good option for them and there’s value in moving together as a large group. Bill Hopping wanted to go forward with the third party evaluation.  Brinkman supported the continued analysis saying this would be the strongest option.  She was not interested in pursuing other options for Littleton.   Phil Cernanec was supportive of the evaluation but was concerned about how you get the values citizens want in their fire protection service if service is not provided by employees of Littleton.

 

Peggy Cole asked for more information and said this was a significant change and that the citizens needed to be involved in a big way. Brinkman said the consultant has an aggressive community outreach as part of what they do.  Beckman said he needed answers before he could ever talk to citizens – how do we divide up the existing capital, he needed to understand the financial piece – there are so many questions unanswered in addition to the service end that we have not even addressed.

Clark said we haven’t looked at other alternatives and it is incumbent upon them to do so. Right now it is as if someone drove up to your house and asked you to buy their car and you consider the car in front of you without looking at other cars.  University Hospital is building in Highlands Ranch and they have been very aggressive in pursuing emergency response.  Littleton Hospital is already working with the City and may want to provide emergency services as well.  They would do this at no cost to the city – they get paid by transporting people to the hospital.  If we make a change we need to look at alternatives and not just the one that has come before us.

City Attorney Search

The consultant informed the council that one of the top candidates withdrew from the search because of the public nature of the process. Some of the candidates are from out of state and it will take 4 to 8 months for the credentials to come through.  Until then they could work under the supervision of our current legal counsel.  Candidates would have to take the exam and it is not offered again until August. Council had to decide how many applicants they would interview.  The following four will be interviewed at the end of the month.

Patrick Moran

Stephen Kemp

Stacie Harding

Jeffrey Eaby

 

Proposed Amendments to Commercial Mobile Radio Service Code Requirements and Expand Regulations to Include Wireless Telecommunications Facilities

Littleton’s existing code on Commercial Radio Service is outdated and in need of being updated to meet current state and federal requirements. It is important to update the code to address issues regarding locating wireless communications both on private property and within the city rights-of-way.  It was recommended to create a new chapter in the code dedicated to this topic.  Section 10-4-11 would be repealed and replaced with the new chapter 16.

Community Engagement – Downtown and Parking

This topic was not discussed due to the hour. The council communication from staff indicated that staff wanted to discuss a new approach to community engagement to accomplish two things; 1) resetting engagement with the residents and 2) developing a new strategy for managing issues in our downtown area (e.g. parking).

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