City Council Study Session – 25 July 2017 – Dispatch Mediaiton

City Council Study Session.       25 July 2017.     Citizen Minutes

1.  Ordinance review of minor clarifications to Title 11, Subdivision Code, Chapter 9, Administrative Plat and Replat.  In May 2017 council approved changes to the subdivision exemption code (This change was triggered by The Grove approval – this was one of the codes that was violated when it was administratively approved.  The exemption required property to be divided not combined but it was used to combine parcels in the case of The Grove.)  When council approved the changes in May a citizen pointed out language that was not clearly written and would be subject to a different interpretation than intended.  This change will clarify the confusing language.  The word “less” will be changed to “more.”  A second clarification will be included in the Ordinance – a clarification to what is meant by adequate water and sewer facilities.  A Will Serve letter will fulfill the requirement.

2.  Littleton Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant Strategic Plan – a discussion to prepare for a joint meeting with the Englewood City Council on our joint waste water treatment plan.  There was a short discussion on the possibility of a new revenue stream from bio gas.  The direction that was presented to council by the wastewater treatment people would cost $8,700,000 in capital costs to be shared with Englewood.  South Bend, Des Moines, and Raleigh were noted as having pipeline injection installations under construction.  There was no mention of any treatment facilities that already had these systems up and running so there was no evidence presented that this was a revenue generator.  Doug Clark asked for more information and for more options.  He attended the Colorado Municipal League where he spoke with a representative from a company that had a different option to be considered.

3.  TABOR discussion to refer ballot question to allow the city to keep the TABOR excess of $1,900,000.  – The question proposed has two elements one to keep the money and spend on certain capital projects and two to readjust the base for TABOR proposes.  Clark asked about how the city calculated the base as there are two ways.  Tiffany Hooten, Finance Director, said they calculated the base from the 2006 adjusted base.  Bruce Beckman said the council needed to give the staff some guidance on the ballot measure.  Clark also thought the staff should work up how the money would be refunded because it will have to be returned to the voters if the city is not allowed to keep it.  Clark also preferred two questions on the ballot rather than putting both on the ballot as a single question. Jerry Valdes and Beckman both agreed.  Phil Cernanec suggested asking the voters to retain the excess for two years eliminating the need to go back to the voters and ask again. Bill  Hopping liked that idea.  Beckman said the risk of that approach is greater than the cost of an election – $25,000.  Cernanec said he would like to see a high priority item to be at the top of the list because people won’t read the whole list.  Put one on that benefits “my” (the voter) neighborhood – streets.  Get to two items rather than a list – just streets and the Bowles intersection.

4.  Fire Dispatch and the request for mediation.   City Manager, Mark Relph, pointed out the receipt of two letters, one from the fire union and one of the fire partners requesting mediation on the decision to move dispatch to South Metro.  From the staff’s perspective – do you want to agree to mediation?  Council has received a confidential memo from the city attorney – if the council agrees to mediation the attorney needs to hear from them about the issues.

Hopping deviated from the agenda and the council protocols and asked for two council members to voice their concerns hoping to resolve their concern and change the vote.  He believes the cost savings and the increase in safety for the citizens, that are evident to him if we send our dispatch to South Metro, should be discussed and asked Beckman and Valdes if they would explain their issues behind their no vote. Hopping was puzzled how they went from a 6/1 vote on first reading to a 3/4 vote on second reading.

Beckman told Hopping that they voted and he was violating the council protocols.  He wanted to discuss the two letters.

Hopping thought he had been misrepresented by Beckman and he realized that the time for reconsideration had passed.  He was asking for clarification to which Beckman told him it was inappropriate to go through it again.  The Fire Chief kept giving council differing positions.  Council approved an increase in staff to fire and a contract was signed with Cunningham.  Now Cunningham comes forward to announce they are terminating the contract because the terms of the contract were not met by the Fire Chief.  Council received information from the Fire Chief that there could not keep dispatchers and then council finds out that the Fire Chief put a hiring freeze into effect in January.  (Update:  the day after the council learned that the Fire Chief had issued a hiring freeze the freeze was lifted and there are now 4 new hires for dispatch.)  Beckman said he wouldn’t be pushed into mediation.  They needed to get the real numbers – they say there’s a $300,000 in savings and he has no idea where the number came from.  The information provided to council was presented improperly and he should not have to repeat his issues with moving dispatch to South Metro.

Valdes said he was there to talk about what to do.  Hopping said they should not throw out a strong opportunity because they lacked information in specific areas.

Clark said mediation will not help.  Valdes said he was in favor of mediation.  Beckman said he favored mediation with the hopes of getting the real facts and he thought the communication would be important.  Clark said he would like to talk about the entire fire system – the financial challenges in a rational and calm manner but to talk about dispatch will not lead to resolution.  He favored sitting down with the partners and discuss the expectations in all aspects of the partnership and service.

Clark continued that the partners can leave the partnership anytime.  We have a lot of issues related to fire  –  there are real issues with the partnership, service delivery and the fire management.  (In fact in one of the letters there is a threat from the Highlands Ranch Metro District  and the Littleton Fire Protection District that if the city does not reverse their position by the end of November they will consider terminating their agreement with the city and another threat that they would be actively engaged in the council election this Fall and don’t be surprised when they take to the streets.)

Steve Kemp, city attorney, said he and acting deputy city manager, Randy Young, would be mediating for the city.

Cernanec favors mediation saying that mediation can go to other issues.  Kemp said the intent would be to obtain the facts and comeback with resolutions to discuss with council.  We will see what the facts are and then determine what to do.  Mediation is non-binding.

Peggy Cole said she favors mediation.  Debbie Brinkman offered her support the fire partners and appreciated the fact that they ask for mediation.  There’s an opportunity for dialog.


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