City Council Study Session 9 January 2018 (LIFT and Fire)

City Council Study Session               9 January 2018                 Citizen Minutes

Priority Based Budgeting

A consultant from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting presented their approach to working with the city to implement priority based budgeting (PPB). It will take a few years to implement this approach fully but once implemented the city should be able to identify which programs (and related expenses) are not contributing to the priorities of council. The contract has already been signed.

Draft Policy for Authorities, Boards and Commissions Interview Process

The draft policy, in brief, would create three interview teams comprised of two council members each. Those members would be assigned to specific boards and would be allowed to recruit applicants, interview applicants and forward their recommendations to the mayor and city council with council invited to submit comments in writing to the mayor within 10 days. If there were no adverse comments submitted to the mayor “from a majority of the councilmembers,” the recommendations would be forwarded to the council for approval. There were other elements of the policy but the selection process was a substantial change from the past.

The discussion began with Mark Relph, laying out a timeline but Peggy Cole suggested that rather than start with a timeline they should first see if there is support for the draft. Cole said it takes time to interview all applicants but everyone, not just two councilmembers, should interview all candidates.   Brinkman asked councilmembers if it was important to them to interview each candidate. Karina Elrod, Carol Fey, Jerry Valdes, and Cole said yes. Kyle Schlachter said he wasn’t sure and Pat Driscoll said no.

Added Agenda Item from Carol Fey

At the last council meeting Fey’s amendment that required LIFT to provide a recommendation to the council before any LIFT interviews would take place passed yet she has heard that LIFT will not be meeting and she did not understand why her amendment was not being followed.

Kyle Schlachter said it was his recollection that at the last LIFT meeting the city attorney and the city clerk were going to determine how many vacancies existed. (At the October LIFT meeting the city attorney advised the LIFT board not to make a recommendation to the council until they had met again and made a determination as to the status of the membership. He was concerned that LIFT was not a duly constituted board and it was important to get things straightened out so decisions made could not be challenged. Carol Brzeczek was asked if she would share her work with staff and she said she would. Very recently she was asked and staff decided to use her version of the appointments.) Fey said the amendment was for the LIFT board to determine not the city attorney or the city clerk. She asked Schlachter, chair of LIFT, if the board had met and how many members were on LIFT. At one point Schlachter said he was not on the LIFT board, and then said he was, and then said he was not available to meet with LIFT. Debbie Brinkman told Fey that she did not understand Fey’s concern. Fey thought the plain language of her motion was clear and expressed her concern once again that it was not being followed. It was left in the lap of the deputy city attorney – she was tasked with interpreting, for council, the motion, on the city’s website, that reads:

Council Member Fey moved and Mayor Pro Tem Valdes seconded amend the motion to require that interviews do not begin until Council has received a recommendation from the LIFT Board on the exact number of vacancies as the LIFT Board understands it, and that the interview process is open to the public.

(Kyle Schlachter finally resigned from LIFT on January 11, the day LIFT should have met according to their by-laws. Apparently the concerns that kept him on LIFT as Chair and allowed him the opportunity to cancel all meetings since his election are no longer a concern.)

Misc Business

Brinkman said she had instructed staff to make sure all presentations for council meetings are included in their packets. She mentioned an upcoming breakfast meeting with South Suburban and the fact that there used to be a liaison to South Suburban and there hasn’t been for a while and she would like to bring the position back. (The liaison to South Suburban and LPS were creations of former councilmembers and were not part of the regular council liaison appointments. The positions were not appointed in subsequent years.)

Columbine Square Update

There are a lot of citizen concerns and there’s a better way to handle information and disseminate it to the public. A small task force to include citizens will be created to manage information about Columbine Square to the citizens.   A Charter will be created for the group in hopes that if it is a successful endeavor the Charter will be a model for future similar efforts.

Valdes asked if the property owner had ever been fined for a code violation. Relph did not answer the question directly but said everyone is frustrated and wants something done. The owner has 5 days to clean up after the fire. The owner is hiring a new developer with a robust public process.

Cancer Trust Fund

Relph said the cancer trust for fire fighters may have to be pulled again from their agenda – what would happen to this if we get started then go to South Metro.

South Metro Fire Unification – How Will We Pay For It?

Regarding South Metro fire unification – the voters will have to be asked if they want to be included in the South Metro Fire District. The city could dedicate some of the currently Littleton collected property taxes (6.662 mills) to South Metro to help offset the increase in taxes to the citizens for fire service with South Metro.

If Littleton has a contract with South Metro one option would be to pay for it from the General Fund. Relph made it very clear that he would not recommend any Capital Improvement Reserves be used to pay for fire. Using the Reserves from the General Fund also has it challenges – how do we pay the reserves back?Valdes said they were told going to South Metro would save $300,000.

Just to help understand this – we (the citizens) will have to pay more for fire service with South Metro. We have two options to pay – contractual or mill levy. If we contract for service the extra expense will have to come from the current revenues in our city’s budget. Mark Relph suggested using the Reserves from the General Fund.

 If it is a mill levy the voters have to be asked to tax themselves for the South Metro services. South Metro’s mill levy is 9.25. (The city of Littleton’s mill levy is 6.662 for comparison.) The citizens could be asked to fund the entire 9.25 mills or the city could permanently give up a portion or their entire mill levy to help defray the added cost to the citizens for South Metro fire. Anyway you look at it the unification will cost the citizens of Littleton and we have yet to hear from our council any discussion on cost.


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