City Council Regular Meeting – 19 December 2017 – STAMP, Preliminary Project Plan and LIFT

Littleton City Council Regular Meeting.      19 December 2017.     Citizen Minutes

Public Comment –

Linda Knufinke presented council with two different scenarios for paying for fire service through South Metro and how much each of the scenarios will cost the property owners in Littleton. The added expense is significant. She asked the council to begin that discussion.

Scenario 1 – Increasing our property taxes by .002588 mills (the difference between the .006662 currently collected and the needed .00925 mills to pay for fire). On a house valued at $405,000 that would equal an increase of over $83.00. (However, this scenario would assume that the city would permanently give up their .00662 mills in order for that money to be collected by South Metro for fire services. A very unlikely scenario indeed.)

Scenario 2 – Increasing our property taxes by the necessary and required .00925 mills to become part of the South Metro District. (This is the ultimate outcome of a merger with South Metro – they called it a level 2 commitment. It would not be the City of Littleton that would raise and collect the .00925 mills – it would be South Metro. Our property tax bill would have a new line item for the .00925 mills collected by South Metro in addition to the .006662 mills collected by the City.)

Carol Brzeczek told council she believed that there were 5 vacancies on the LIFT board and not the three reported. LIFT received legal advice to take a look at the improper appointments of the past and then make a recommendation to council as to the correct number of vacancies. However, since the council election Kyle Schlachter has maintained his Chairmanship of the LIFT board in spite of council’s resolution to remove all council members from the LIFT board. In emails Schlachter stated he does not intend to chair a LIFT meting or create a LIFT agenda holding the LIFT board hostage by ignoring LIFT’s by-laws and refusing to fulfill his role as Chair. She asked council to intercede by affirming their commitment to Resolution 2014-55 and request Mr. Schlachter’s immediate resignation so the LIFT board could meet without his interference.

Pam Chadbourne addressed item 5a – the budget transfer for $250,000 related to a police investigation. She compared this action to the Southview fire in April that displaced several of Littleton’s most vulnerable residents and the lack of money that was provided by council for this incident.   She thanked the city Clerk, Wendy Heffner, for capturing citizen comments in the minutes making them more valuable. She asked council to vote against the Preliminary Project Plan coming up for first reading – she thought staff has said yes too many times in the past and this would allow for more of the same and she would prefer for staff to learn to say No. There are other issues that she thought the council should be spending their time on – transportation plan and affordable housing to name two.

Don Bruns told the council there were 8 reasons why the Station Area Master Plan (STAMP) for the Mineral Light Rail Station was premature – and all 8 were known, except the PEL, when the STAMP was approved. He thought a staff generated plan being completed in 18 weeks was unrealistic and how could it not end up on the shelf. Put the brakes on otherwise staff will promote more development. He expressed his appreciation for the City Manager working with CDOT to begin the PEL study.

Consent Agenda

  1. A) Resolution 55-2017 – A resolution to approve a budget transfer of $250,000 related to a police investigation

  2. C) ID# 17-355 – Motion to cancel the city council study session on December 26, 2017 and the city council regular meeting on January 2, 2018

  3. D) ID# 17-346 – Approval of the December 5, 2017 regular meeting minutes

Motion was made to approve Consent Agenda Items A, C, and D. by Carol Fey, seconded by Jerry Valdes. Motion carried 7/0.

  1. B) ID# 18-002 – Motion to appoint Victim Assistance Coordinator Linda Suttle to the Arapahoe County Community Corrections Board – Pulled by Jerry Valdes. Valdes moved to approve, Peggy Cole seconded and motion carried 7/0.

Ordinances on First Reading

  1. Ordinance 34-2017 – An ordinance on first reading amending Title 10 of the City Code to add Preliminary Project Plan – This change would allow potential developments to be presented to council informally and allow council to voice a non-binding opinion regarding the proposed development before a formal application is made. (This was offered on the heels of a rezoning application that was two years in the making. The application was supported and recommended by the city staff and Planning Commission but the council turned it down. Situations like this cost the applicant thousands of dollars and certainly makes the staff look bad to have nurtured the application along and making a favorable recommendation only to have the council turn it down. This process should eliminate such embarrassment in the future but there’s concern among some citizens that once council gives its tacit approval before the formal application comes to them council is unlikely to reverse their opinion when the formal application is in front of them. If you have heard of the quasi-judicial nature of some of council decisions this new process almost sounds like a contradiction to the limitations of the quasi-judicial nature of such applications. Once a development has been formally submitted through the planning process, council and planning commissioners cannot discuss the matter with the applicant or concerned citizens. Because the application, in the preliminary project plan process, has not been formally submitted the quasi-judicial restrictions do not apply.) Valdes moved and Karina Elrod seconded. Motion carried 7/0.

  2. Ordinance 40-2017 – An ordinance on first reading amending Title 8, Chapter 11, Section 8-11-2 of the Littleton City Code pertaining to filing of Special District Service Plans – The fee was set at $250 in 1983 and on October 167, 2017 council established a different fee thereby creating a conflict. Approval will remove the contradiction making the fee “an amount established by the city council by ordinance.” Motion was moved by Elrod, seconded by Cole and passed 7/0.

  3. c) Ordinance 42-2017 – An ordinance on first reading amending Ordinance No. 23, series of 2017, known as the Annual Appropriation Bill. – Approval will add .5 FTE to the community development department. Building and development is at an all time high in Littleton adding significantly to the workload.   Motion made by Schlachter, unknown who made the second and passed 7/0.

  4. d) Ordinance 44-2017 – An ordinance on first reading amending Title 1, Chapter 9, Sections 1-9-1 and 1-9-2 of the Littleton City Code – This is the first of some of the housekeeping type changes that city attorney, Steve Kemp, told council at their last study session he would be bringing forward.

  5. Fees and charges due to the city are to be paid in lawful money of the US. (No foreign currency accepted and the Finance Director will regulate payments in coin. Electronic funds transfers, automated check handling, credit and debit cards, check, cashier’s check, money orders, wire transfers or direct account transfers will be accepted.)

  6. Council members may act as policemen without pay under the supervision of the Chief of Police – this city code provision is in contradiction to state statute.

Elrod moved and Valdes seconded – motion carried 7/0.

General Business

  1. Resolution 56-2017 – A resolution to approve the release of funds in accordance with a 2018 budget proviso and the approval of a lease agreement for fire office space at 1221 W. Mineral Avenue. This action will move Fire Permit Plan Review staff to the Mineral Ave space with the fire administration and renew the lease. The lease is $36,336 for a year, which is within the budgeted amount of $40,000. This will free up space at the City Center. Elrod moved and Fey Motion carried 7/0.

  2. ID# 17-356 – Discussion regarding vacancies on City of Littleton Urban Renewal Board. Kemp told the council that there were two vacancies with a third to come when Schlachter It is a 7-member board and 4 members are a quorum. Vacancies have been filled along with other boards and commissions but LIFT is governed by state statute. Council has the ability to direct staff to expedite the appointments for LIFT.

Fey read from the city charter Section 37 and asked Schlachter to remove himself from the discussion or immediately resign, as he was currently a member of the LIFT board. (The Charter states: Every member (of council) when present, must vote on ordinances, resolutions and motions, except he or she shall not vote on matters involving the consideration of his or her own official conduct……….) Kemp disagreed with Fey’s interpretation of the Charter saying Schlachter did not stand to gain financially therefore there was no conflict of interest. Schlachter could recuse himself but it was not necessary.

Cole asked if a LIFT decision was challenged would it come to council – Kemp said no, LIFT is a separate board, Valdes asked if there was a meeting and Elrod said not until January. (However, I have been told, once again by staff, that LIFT will not meet even though neither staff nor council has the authority to direct LIFT to meet or not to meet.)

Fey said the conflict of interest was not limited to financial reasons. Kemp said this was a policy decision for council and it was not appropriate for staff to proceed without council’s approval. Rather than having the nominations in March council could do so in January, which would not be in time for the January LIFT meeting.

Mark Relph said the proposed timeline would be to advertise for the vacancies Dec. 1 – Jan 8, interviews with Brinkman and Valdes between January 9 through the 19th, discussion at the January 23 study session with a vote at the February 6th regular meeting.

Valdes said he preferred to include the resignation of the Chair as part of the three vacancies. Debbie Brinkman said it was the intention to have the Chair resign creating the three vacancies and one reason for Schlachter to remain on as chair because he was a signer on the checking account. (Schlachter must have a short memory – when he became chair is was due to the resignation of Justin Hay who was the signer on the account.   The transfer of the checking account from Hay to Schlachter was accomplished even though Hay was no longer on the LIFT board.) According to Brinkman LIFT does not have any business.

Schlachter said he got legal advice to remain on the LIFT board.   Unknown who moved and Elrod seconded.

Fey thought it was cleaner to sort out the actual number of vacancies before they interview and amended the motion to have LIFT make a recommendation to the council before the interviews and require the interviews to be open. Valdes seconded. Elrod thought there might be good candidates for LIFT by going back to last year’s applicants. Schlachter said there are two vacancies and he would resign (but he did not say when). Fey asked for an examination of LIFT terms – Kemp said he would work with the city clerk and provide the information to the council. Fey said according to Brzeczek this needs to be cleared up. Amendment passed 4/3 with Elrod, Pat Driscoll and Schlachter dissenting.  (All three new members of council, for whatever reason, opposed LIFT to making a recommendation to the council on the accurate number of vacancies and opposed holding the interviews in an open meeting. Their dissent is disconcerting.)

Main motion passed 7/0.

If you want to read more about this follow the link.

Ordinances on Second Reading and Public Hearing

Ordinance 35-2017 – Ordinance on second reading amending Title 3, Chapter 9, Sections 3-9-1-2, 3-9-3-2, 3-9-1-10 and 3-9-6-12 of the city code, enacting and implementing standardized sales and use tax definitions

Pam Chadbourne recalled a statement from the study session that the change in definitions did not change the taxable status of an item yet a core reason to make the change was to make items the same from one municipality to another so what is taxable in one is taxable in another. Unknown who moved and Valdes seconded.

Valdes stated, for verification, to Kemp – this action does not change or increase taxes in any shape or form. Kemp said that was correct – there is no intent to raise any more revenue and this does not impact a policy change under TABOR to which Valdes said – if it does we would have to go to the voters and Kemp said yes. Motion passed 7/0.

b) Ordinance 36-2017 – An ordinance on second reading amending Ordinance No. 21 Series of 2016 known as the Annual Appropriation Bill for all municipal purposes for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2017 and ending December 31, 2017.

Elrod moved to approve, Valdes seconded and motion passed 7/0.

  1. c) Ordinance 39-2017 – An ordinance on second reading amending the 2017 Emergency Medical Transportation Enterprise Budget.

  2. Fey moved, Driscoll seconded and motion passed 7/0.


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