Montrose, CO — City councilors met for their regular meeting Tuesday evening, September 15, to address a number of issues, including honoring local Dr. Gary Ratcliff, consider a liquor license for a new gas station, a grant application to help curb black-market marijuana, a new lease agreement with the Montrose County Historical Society, and a contract award to rebuild a municipal sewer system.
Councilors and staff met in Council Chambers at 107 South Cascade while maintaining COVID-19 social distancing protocols. The public was invited to attend via the Zoom platform. Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met for about 54 minutes. The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
PROCLAMATION: Dr. Gary Ratcliff Day
Mayor Barbara Bynum read a proclamation honoring local educator Dr. Gary Ratcliff who has served as director of the Colorado Mesa University Montrose Campus since 2016, and has 30 years of experience in higher education administration.
Bynum noted that Dr. Ratcliff partnered with the City of Montrose to expand and develop the CMU Montrose Campus and offer scholarships to local students while growing educational programs and scholarship opportunities benefitting both CMU students and the Montrose community.
Dr. Ratcliff was recognized for his receipt of the 2019 Economic Development Award from Montrose Economic Development Corporation for the development and expansion of the CMU Montrose Campus, which has greatly impacted the local economy.
“The Montrose City Council and staff wish to acknowledge Dr. Ratcliff’s contributions to our community and legacy of educational development,” Bynum said. “Therefore, we, the City Council of the City of Montrose, Colorado, do hereby
proclaim September 15, 2020 as Dr. Gary Ratcliff Day in the City of Montrose, and encourage citizens to congratulate Dr. Ratcliff on his retirement and wish him well.”
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Councilors voted unanimously to approve the minutes of both the September 1, 2020, special and regular meetings. The city’s archive of past meeting minutes can be found at: CityofMontrose.org/ArchiveCenter.
WATCH Tuesday’s meeting here.
FERMENTED MALT BEVERAGE LICENSE APPLICATION
City councilors approved a liquor license for the new Golden Gate gas station on South Townsend Ave. Representatives of Golden Gate presented their application before council, noting the company has zero liquor license violations from five locations across Colorado.
City councilors approved a resolution authorizing the filing of a grant application with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, DOLA, for the Gray and Black Market Marijuana Enforcement Grant Program.
City of Montrose Grant Coordinator Kendall Cramer presented the council with an annual grant filing with the DOLA for the program. If awarded by DOLA, the funds would help cover costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of black-market marijuana production.
The council must formally approve a resolution to opt-in to the state program. According to DOLA’s website, the program is designed to "provide financial assistance grants annually to local law enforcement and district attorneys through the local governments for the investigation and prosecution costs associated with unlicensed marijuana cultivation or distribution operations."
Specifically, the program aims to provide funds to assist rural areas in preventing large-scale marijuana grow operations, organized crime operations, or any operations that divert marijuana outside the state of Colorado.
Cramer said in previous years the city has received nearly $150,000 from DOLA to fund local efforts.
LEASE AGREEMENT FOR HISTORIC DEPOT BUILDING
City councilors approved renewing a 5-year lease with the Montrose County Historical Society for its continued use of the historic Depot Building located at 21 North Rio Grande Avenue.
Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn said the city had to raise its rates with the society due to the rising insurance rates the city pays on the building itself.
The city and the Historical Society entered into the former 5-year lease in 2015, which expired on September 15.
One notable change in the new lease is the increased rent of $20 per year as compared to the former lease amount of $1 per month. This change to an annual payment lessens the administrative burden on the lessee.
WOODGATE SUBDIVISION SEWER SYSTEM REHABILITATION CONTRACT AWARD
City councilors approved a contract award to Haynes Excavation in the amount of $972,051 for construction of the Woodgate Subdivision Sewer System Rehabilitation Project.
The Woodgate Subdivision is situated along the eastern side of Woodgate Road south of Otter Road. The neighborhood was originally developed in the mid-70s under Montrose County regulations with a sanitary sewer collection system running to a local sewage lagoon. Changes in public health requirements forced this lagoon to be abandoned in the early 90s, at which time the neighborhood annexed into the city and a sewer main was extended to the neighborhood. With this annexation, the city inherited operation and maintenance obligations for the sewer collection system.
City Engineer Scott Murphy told the council that the sewer system was built primarily with thin-walled plastic irrigation pipe and was not built to any established standard. As a result, the system has continually had maintenance issues due to root intrusion, improper pipe support, collapsing pipes, separated joints, and protruding or unsealed service connections.
Furthermore, the sewer system was constructed with poor access in areas between or behind multiple private residential lots and the locations of the piping network were never formally mapped. In response to these issues, this project will perform a general rehabilitation of the sewer system to improve line durability, efficiency, reliability, and accessibility.
Haynes Excavation was the low bidder for the project. Murphy said there would be traffic impacts associated with the work. Those impacts will be planned and alerted to the pubic before any roadways are affected.
City Finance Director Shani Wittenberg delivered a monthly Sales, Use, and Excise Tax Report. Comparing July 2020 to July 2019, General Fund retail sales tax revenue is up 4.1 percent. Construction use tax revenue is up 223.5 percent. Wittenberg said the number was “shocking” because the number of residential building permits pulled in the city remains high. Total collections in July were up 8.3 percent with an overall positive budget variance of just over 10 percent.
Hotel and restaurant excise taxes collected in July 2020 were down compared with July 2019, mostly due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hotel excise was down 31 percent, restaurant excise was down 6.1 percent, and excise tax collection total was down about 11 percent.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said that, following years of preparation and work, Cerro Reservoir is now beginning to refill. Murphy said the reservoir would fill about halfway before winter and top off in the spring.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via on the city’s website and cable channels 191 for Charter subscribers and 970 for Elevate subscribers. Replays of council meetings are also broadcast at 6 p.m. on the same channels on days that the council is not in session.
In addition, each regular meeting is archived on the City of Montrose’s YouTube channel.
Residents can watch all regular City Council meetings and work sessions live through the city’s website at CityOfMontrose.org/Video.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.