City Council Study Session 28 March 2017

City Council Study Session                28 March 2017                   Citizen Minutes

Review of associate Judges Currier and Katzman

Judge Feldman told the council that the two judges were doing a wonderful job and they were available when needed and he strongly recommended their reappointment.  (We have one full time Judge – Judge Feldman.  There are times when he needs a judge to step in for him during an absence.  Both Judge Currier and Judge Katzman fulfill that need.)  Judge Feldman said that he was concerned about some current legislation that would require people in custody to have a lawyer present at their first appearance.  This creates an expense and difficultly since their first appearance is unpredictableThe State is looking for the funds to assist municipalities and may delay implementation.  The Judge said a lot of people plead guilty at their first appearance just to be done with it all and some want a lawyer and sometimes there is someone there.  Another pending piece of legislation would mandate that people be seen in a certain period of time and that could have a fiscal impact.  It may require more transportation fees or more video links or even Face Time.  And a final issue he mentioned was legislation that would require the municipalities to expunge or seal records which may alter the way things are done.

Doug Clark asked about a matter from a few years ago where kids who were attending a party but not drinking alcohol were being punished just for being where other under age drinkers were drinking.  The Judge said he had not seen a big party bust for well over a year.  He sees more marijuana possession than alcohol but if it would happen everyone has a right to an individual trial – their mere presence is not enough.

The Judge made a recommendation to the council to appoint Judge Huffine who had been a judge in Aurora for 35 years.  She was instrumental in establishing a juvenile court there and she is interested in something similar here in Littleton.

Fire Dispatch Discussion

This was a follow-up on the merger of the dispatchers with South Metro Fire.  Chief Armstrong said that this conversation was independent of the conversation about merging our dispatch with South Metro.

He presented options.

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Increase employee compensation and benefits.  Eric Von Savage, HR Director, said the best case would be to match South Metro pay.  He said that South Metro has a different philosophy about compensation – they want to be in the 80th percentile in the market.  They pay approximately $2,000 more per year than Littleton.  He said to bring up the fire dispatch would be difficult to do without increasing the pay for the police dispatch since they share space with the each other.  To accomplish pay increases across the board for all dispatchers would be $86,000 to $87,000 plus benefits.  The other difference is the very attractive schedule that the South Metro dispatchers have – they are on 24 hour shifts and to accomplish that would be another $110,000 and we would need to provide sleep rooms and we don’t have the capacity for this.

Chief Armstrong showed a graph that depicted high turnover since 2014 and Doug Clark asked him what changed in 2014.  (The answer, that was when Armstrong was hired. In addition with so few employees  (12.5 to 14.5) having two dispatchers leave shows up as a large percentage turnover versus showing the number of employees.)

Chief Armstrong said Littleton has a difficult time hiring dispatchers.

3.  We could contract with West Metro Fire and Rescue or Denver but the level of service is an unknown and there is a significant system incompatibility.  And they are not accredited.

4.  Contract with South Metro – there would be some loss of local control but he thought there would be improved service.  The systems are compatibile, there are economies of scale and they already have agreements in place.

Phil Cernanec asked the Chief how “they” knew here we live.  Chief said the technology today can manage that and we would still respond to our calls.  Cernanec was concerned about the loss of our culture.

Jerry Valdes asked Von Savage what the turn over rate for dispatchers was industry wide and the he did not know.

Reasons to Merge

We operate closely together already

We have established mutual aid agreements in place

Seamless integration

Share similar protocols

They have 3 incident dispatch teams providing on scene support

GIS Services

The Chief recommended that the city council support the approval of contracting our dispatch services with South Metro.  All employees would go over with pay raises, some of our 911 equipment would be transferred , there would be a 24 month cancellation clause, monthly, quarterly and annual reports.  Littleton was guaranteed a price of $58.46 per call for the first two years.

Clark said that the costs we pay now and what we will pay South Metro will cross.  Their costs are going up faster so how quick will the lines cross?  He pointed out that the Chief used a 4.25% growth but when he asked for extra dispatch he said there was a 56% increase and last year there was a 33% increase.  So the figure the Chief used was lower than what Littleton has experienced in the last three years.  He then said that he can’t match any of the figures in the CAFR with what was being presented and he requested a comparison of actuals.

Cernanec wants further analysis and Peggy Cole was not ready to make a decision.  Debbie Brinkman said she understands the challenges and that this was not new information .  What is the solution, is the solution South Metro – yes.  We are out of space and have no interest in moving the dispatchers.  If there are conflicts with the numbers let’s flush them out.  Calls are going up and we have a problem and the chief brought us a solution.  This is not a loss but a more sustainable model.  The longer we wait the more challenges – we need to keep this on a fast track.

Valdes asked for the numbers to be scrubbed and consistent and did not see the need for another committee.  Bill Hopping said he “heard” Doug not the numbers – even if it is 100K that is less than 1% of our budget and not significant.  It is expensive to build out – we have an elderly population and the call volume will get heavier.  We should move forward.

Cole said she supports this but wants the numbers to be correct – it was an incredible opportunity .  Bruce Beckman said the advantages are the work environment, the hidden costs go away and gets us into a regional mode.  He also asked for consistency in the numbers.  The South Metro center is ahead of the standard.  The Chief said he would scrubbed the numbers with finance and put a proposed IGA in front of council once done.

Mark Relph said they would redo the numbers internally and bring an IGA forward but if we see something on the numbers we may reconsider.  The Chief said he went through this on a previous job in Florida and thought that the city could be the beneficiary of outside services.

(Since this meeting the consulting firm hired to look at merging our fire department with South Metro has called for a work stoppage on this until certain requirements had been met.  The letter is posted separately.)

Environmental and Recycle Program

Mark Barons reviewed the different programs offered in Littleton. (You can find them on the city’s website.)

Ordinance Review – An ordinance on first reading for Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment code revisions.  Engineers from the Littleton Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant were there to explain the code revisions they were requesting.

Ordinance Review – An ordinance on first reading for addendum to Wastewater Connector’s Agreement Addendums and Sewer Service Agreement Addendums with connecting sanitation districts.  Same gentlemen above presented this as well.

Ordinance Review – An ordinance on first reading to approve Canon Financial Services, Inc Master Lease Agreement.  Presented by Tiffany Wooten, Finance Director.

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