City Council Meeting 16 May 2017 – City Manager Appointed

City Council Regular Meeting and Study Session                   16 May 2017                       Citizen Minutes

Public Comment

Kent Bagley told council they should follow their process for hiring the city manager.

Greg Reinke spoke on  behalf of the downtown merchants about the new (and expensive) way finding signs in downtown Littleton.  He was asking the council to reconsider their decision to ban sandwich boards out in front of shops.  The new signs point people down the side streets and there are way too many merchants than what can be accommodated on the signs.  

Sudi Flloyd from Outnumbered Gallery told council that a merchant that had wanted to get their store sign up on the new way finding signs.  They waited and waited and since has gone out of business.  The process for getting included in the signs is not working.  (Apparently have to call someone in Louisville to come to Littleton with a special tool.). She asked what they were trying to do with the signs since they do not mention “historic” or even mention shopping and restaurants – they don’t tell people we are here!  Bring back the sandwich boards with some requirements that have to be met so they are acceptable.

Don Bruns told the council that the Highline Canal is flowing with water which he thought was fantastic.  He suggested that council send a letter of thanks to Denver Water.

Kyle Schlachter told the council that the minutes from the May 2 meeting did not accurately reflect his comments to the council.  He asked council not to approve the appointment of Mark Relph.

Pam Chadbourne asked the council to stick with their process for selecting the city manager.  She suggested banners instead of sandwich boards in downtown Littleton.  On the subject of the dispatchers, why not just pay them at a competitive rate?

Consent Agenda

A lease agreement for Romancing the Bean to operate a concession at the historic Denver &Rio Grande Depot – The current lease expires soon and the staff asked for a 6 month extension to allow further time to study.  Debbie Brinkman asked why it would take 6 months for them to study.  Mark Relph said it was an unusual contract and it will take time to work out the details with the current occupants.  Peggy Cole wanted to understand how the rate was established.  Brinkman asked staff to look at the Hudson Gardens concession to make sure we are getting the highest value.  Jerry Valdes moved to approve – passed 7/0.  Bruce Beckman asked – is this a sacred cow?  He thought staff probably got their answer from their discussion.  (The current lease rate is $400 per month.  The lease is low because it is a difficult location only serving those that ride the light rail.)

Approval of the May 2, 2017 minutes.  Phil Cernanec moved to amend the minutes to reflect Kyle Schlachter’s actual testimony.  Bill Hopping seconded.  Peggy Cole thought the more intelligent thing to do was to postpone the approval until the city clerk brings back the corrected minutes.   Passed 5/2 with Cole and Clark dissenting.

Ordinances on First Reading

Ordinance to approve access to the Colorado Quarterly Census of Employment Wages database.  (This was discussed at the previous study session if you want to know more.)

Passed 7/0

Ordinances on Second Reading

Amend Title 11, Subdivision Regulations –

Patrick Fitzgerald offered suggested language to clear up the muddy language of 11.9.4 paragraph b.

Doug Clark moved to approve and Brinkman seconded.  Clark thought Patrick Fitzgerald’s suggestion was good.  He said that the goal in amending the Subdivision Exemption(SDE) is to limit what goes through an administrative versus a public process to conditions that are truly minor changes and will not effect the look and feel of the neighborhood.  (The Subdivision Exemption is an administrative process that avoids a public hearing and council approval.  The Grove used the SDE and was challenged by several citizens.  The SDE is a code that allows a single lot to be divided into not more than two lots.  The Grove was not a division of property but a combination of property.  If the SDE had been adhered to we might not have The Grove overlooking the downtown area.). Clark moved to amend 11.9.4 line 229 to include “all resulting lots”.  Jocelyn Mills, Community Development Director agreed with the change.  Valdes seconded and amendment passed 7/0.  On the main motion Clark was concerned about the interpretation of adequate facilities and asked Jocelyn Mills to come back to council with a definition.   Cernanec asked if homes on a septic system would be precluded from using this code.  Attorney Ken Fellman said he believes the language refers to be what would be required if built today – lots would have to meet the same requirements that new construction would have to meet.  (A very different interpretation of the language than Michael Penny’s on The Grove.  If Mr. Fellman had been our attorney at the time The Grove requested a SDE it just might have been turned down if Fellman’s definition would have been the same then as it is today.)

Mark Relph said it was a challenge for Public Works.  Clark said the concern is if the sewer line is in the street will it have to be trenched or will the line need to be replaced?  Is the capacity different?  Main motion passed 6/1 with Cole dissenting.

Ordinance on second reading to approve there Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment code revisions.  This was moved to July 18th for second reading.  7/0

Ordinance on second reading for addendum to Wastewater Connector’s Agreement Addendums and Sewer Service Agreement Addendums with connecting sanitation districts.  Motion passed  6/1 with Clark dissenting.

Ordinance to amend the city’s zoning code Title 10, with respect t to commercial mobile radio service and to expand the city’s regulations to include wireless communications facilities passed 7/0.

General Business

Motion to approve the city manager contract

Cernanec called Mark Relph to the podium to answer his questions.  He stated that he was not in favor of the process but it is where they are.  He asked Relph what his basis was for his interest in the city manager position.  Relph said he was excited about the opportunity for the organization and the community.  When he interviewed for Public Works Director he told them then why he wanted to be in a community the size of Littleton.  He wants to be part of an organization to influence and make changes.  It is an opportunity to use his leadership skills.  At times it will be important to be out in front where the public is and other times he will need to be at the back of the boat to inspire others to act.  He mentioned Lewis & Clark being inspired by Jefferson to explore and JKF inspiring the moon launch.  It is about inspiring others to act.  He wants to work with council and the citizens to create a vision that will provide a compass and translate to all sorts of actions.  Putting together a plan and executing the plan with adjustments along the way if necessary.

Cernanec asked him how he reconciles the fact that he does not live in the city.  Relph appreciated the reasons why the leader should be part of the community but he is not in a position to move.  If he ever did sell he would move to Littleton.  But no one should doubt his dedication to the position.

Cernanec expressed his concern over the staff turn over rate and asked Relph about it.  Relph said it excites him to lead the organization.  The organization needs to be assessed and reinvigorated.  Citizen satisfaction starts with staff satisfaction.  He wants to have an employee satisfaction survey that is detailed with the results used to develop and execute a plan.  We need to retain employees.  He will begin a process that will involve the staff in dealing with their struggles.  Lasting change starts with the city manager.

Cernanec asked Relph to talk about his greatest successes and failures – what have you learned that you can apply here?  Relph said a tough lesson was in hiring staff – under pressure he hired too soon and regretted the action – that was 20 years ago and he had not done it since.  He has been involved in some pretty amazing projects.  In Grand Junction the Riverside Parkway – a loop highway around Grand Junction.  It took ten years but he got it done with approval from 60% of the voters.  He was successful because he got the citizens involved in defining the problems not by telling them the solutions.

He created a city’s first potable water service – he engaged the citizens in the beginning of the process and the voters approved the expense during the recession.

Technical failures – he built the first round-about in the state in Grand Junction and it was not a good design.

Bill Hopping asked Relph how he would develop the expertise to the economic issues coming?  Relph said he had a strong financial background.  Economic Development is changing the face of retail.  It is a significant issue across the country and it will be one of our challenges the we need to understand to be successful.

Hopping said there have been a lot of department head departures – what do we do in the short run and what do we do now?  Relph said employee satisfaction is long term and he has a strategy but thought it was presumptuous to bring forward before he was appointed.  He said that we have a fantastic staff.  He would like to have monthly meetings with staff to give updates and let them ask questions.  A week ago he called a retired employee to ask them to come back to fill in and the person said he would only come back if Mark Relph was city manager.

Clark moved to approve the contract and Cole seconded.  Cernanec said Waters & Co were not there to address questions on the contract.  (All council members were told to contact Chuck at Waters & Co with their comments on the contract.). He continued, at times throughout the process city council expressed a desire to have someone with city manager experience.  The compensation is rich for not having experience.  If we make an adjustment on fire the number of city employees will be reduced making the job of city manager smaller.  Cole said she wasn’t sure what Mark had been doing the last 10 months but she thought he had been the city manager and he was doing a pretty good job.

Brinkman thought the compensation was rich given the fact that his experience is 10 months.  She did not like the car allowance – never liked it.  They struggled to get candidates because of the Charter’s limit on severance pay.    She was concerned about the residency requirement – concerned that it is a non-issue now.  She wanted to remove the clause that would pay Relph $5,000 moving expenses.  There was no public or employee process and she does not support the process.  (Several staff members were in attendance in support of Mark Relph’s appointment.). She would not be approving his contract but that did not reflect her willingness to work with him.  His success is our success.

Jerry Valdes said the process had been to collect resumes and they had nearly 80 last time and 35 this time.  There was a lot of interest.  He was not thrilled with the candidates the first round and he didn’t think they were happy with the second round.  Mark Relph has demonstrated his ability to lead.  Valdes likes the fact that Relph knows and understands the issues Littleton is facing.  Citizens support his appointment.  He realizes and understands that there are some that are not happy with the process.  He believes the Relph and the new city attorney will complement each other.  He supported Relph.

Hopping said the motion at the last meeting was to negotiate  –  there was no negotiation.  Everything in the contract was in the January memo.  He didn’t want to include the moving expenses.  He thought the negotiation would go back and forth and he did not think it was ready for prime time.  The salary is extraordinary.  Relph has demonstrated a lot of good qualities but it is not in the best interest to appoint.

Clark said Eric (VonSavage, HR) came to them multiple times in order to recruit a city manager.  Council decided what they were going to offer.  He agreed that is was sticker shock but that was a decision they made when they started the process.  The contract reflects what council wanted in January and February.  We need to offer the same package and not adjust it based on the candidate.  There were a number of things he did not like in the contract but it reflected what they had decided to offer.

Cernanec’s recollection with Chuck is that it was a range.  He moved to amend the contract to a base salary of $175,000 and eliminate the moving expenses.  Hopping seconded.  The amendment passed 4/3 with Clark, Cole and Beckman dissenting.  Main motion passed 6/1 with Brinkman dissenting.

Study Session

Continued discussion of moving the dispatchers to South Metro. Cernanec said it would behoove them to understand how South Metro would be charging Littleton.  Clark wanted to know how long South Metro would be willing to subsidize them.  Chief Armstrong disagreed that South Metro was subsidizing so Clark suggested that South Metro should hold their price per call not for the 3 years mentioned but for the 13 years.


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