Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Monday morning, October 17, to meet a number of new employees and discuss a possible fee wavier for a new medical center, possible remedies for errant golf balls, revisions to fees in 2023, and ethics and potential conflicts of interest while serving as a City Council.
Councilors Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, Doug Glaspell, David Reed, and Ed Ulibarri met in City Council Chambers along with city staff.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW CITY EMPLOYEES
City Councilors were introduced to 12 new city employees recently hired to backfill a number of positions across the organization.
Michael Evans - PT Pavilion Events Technician
Michelle Wingfield - PW Special Events Manager
Kelsey Phillips - Parks & Special Projects Worker
Kelly Wheeler - HR Generalist
Gunnison Clamp - PT Guest Service Assistant
Jason Bresett - Police Technical Support Specialist
Dave Copeland - Police Officer
Nate Irick - Police Officer
Syla "Rex" Rexhepi - Police Officer
Dante Bertorello - Police Officer
Travis Peabody - Assistant to the Grounds Superintendent
Jonas Molina - Utilities Worker
REQUEST FOR SUPPORT OF MONTROSE REGIONAL HEALTH AMBULATORY CARE CENTER
City Councilors heard a proposal to support Montrose Regional Health's new Ambulatory Care Center. This project will be located at South Rio Grande and Orange Road in the River Landing shopping center.
Montrose Regional Health, MRH, is seeking financial support for the care center in the form of water and sewer connection fee abatements totaling $47,533.
Abating the water and sewer connection fees for this project requires City Council approval because the fees will be paid to the water and sewer funds out of the city’s General Fund. Based on the project’s current plan for a 2” meter, these fees would total $47,553.
The city intends to offer additional support for the project that does not require City Council approval, including waiving an estimated $297,547 of building permit fees, contributing up to $50k for improvements along the Uncompahgre Riverway Trail that would benefit and be available for use by the public, contributing up to $11,450 towards the extension of the public water main into the site (including mainline connection, valves, 8” lateral, and fire hydrant), and sponsoring the project’s bike racks.
The council will vote to approve or deny the request at a future City Council meeting.
ERRANT GOLF BALL DISCUSSION
City Manager Bill Bell stated that the city had been getting comments about golf balls flying out of the golf course onto private property and public roadways located around the Black Canyon Golf Course.
In 2022, the golf course installed netting around the driving range to protect golfers and keep golf balls on the driving range. Bell said the cost to install about 2,400 feet of netting along Hillcrest Avenue and a small section of Birch Street using wood beams would cost about $331,000. Another option Bell presented is to pay for netting to protect individual homes whose owners request it.
A consensus was reached that if the city were to pay homeowners individually to install netting or install trees for protection on their property would set a precedent that would be cost-prohibitive.
The council said it would defer to city staff and their ongoing efforts to find solutions to this issue. Any recommendations would be brought to the council at a future meeting.
COLORADO PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE INSURANCE (FAMLI) ACT
City Councilors were presented with a recommendation that the City of Montrose opt out of the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI).
City Attorney Chris Dowsey said FAMLI is a program for workers in Colorado to be able to take time off for certain life events, analogous to those in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), while still having a source of income and not worrying about losing their status with their employer.
Currently, the city follows the FMLA leave policy that keeps its employees whole while they are out on FMLA leave. This leave can be used for 12 weeks in a rolling year. If an employee is out for a qualifying event, such as to care for a family member with a serious health condition, they must first use all accrued sick and vacation leave. Once this leave is exhausted, they may use a sick-leave bank held by the city, which will be paid out for the duration of their FMLA leave.
The city can opt out of the FAMLI program.
If the city opts out:
• its employees may still opt into the program and receive the financial benefits;
• it will have to decide whether it will handle the administration of employees who opt into the program or leave that to the employees themselves;
• it may join the program at any point in time;
• it does not have to pay into the program; and
• it does not have to adhere to the job protection standards created by the FAMLI act.
If the city does not opt out of the program:
• it must be in the program for a minimum of three years;
• it must pay into the program for an entire year without any benefit for employees; and
• it must adhere to every new rule created for the program.
Dowsey said most Colorado municipalities are opting out of the FAMLI program.
The council will formally consider the city’s participation in the program at a future council meeting.
PROPOSED 2023 FEE SCHEDULE REVISIONS
City Clerk Lisa DelPiccolo presented a summary of proposed revisions to the fee schedule that would go into effect on January 1, 2023.
The proposed revisions, by category, are:
3-1-1 (A) Administrative Fees
• Mobile Food Vendor Permit fees were updated to match current regulations
• Records requests fees were changed to the maximum amount allowed by state statute
• Special waste collection fees were updated
3-1-1 (C) Cemetery Fees
• Fees for lot sales were increased to match other cemeteries in the area
• Open/close fees for full burials were increased to reflect actual cost
3-1-1 (D) Land Use Fees
• The City Operations and Police Services (COPS) fee was eliminated
• Street Excavation Permit fees were restructured and updated
3-1-1 (I) Municipal Court Fees
• Municipal Court fees were added to the fee schedule
3-1-2 Pavilion Fee Schedule
• Art divider/room divider wording was updated
• Catering fees were restructured and updated
• Kitchen fees were removed
3-1-3 Fee Schedule for Water, Sewer, and Trash
• Water and sewer connection fees were increased by 5%
• Water usage fees per 1,000 gallons were increased by 5% plus a .15 increase pass-through from Project 7
• Trash and recycling fees were increased by 10%
• Miscellaneous recycling items were added
• The fee to recycle fluorescent bulbs and CFLs was reduced
The council will formally vote on the proposed changes at a future meeting.
DEFENSIBLE DECISION MAKING
City Attorney Ben Morris and Assistant City Attorney Chris Dowsey delivered a presentation about good decision-making and other ethical focus areas that the City Council should follow in its role as a civic authority.
Morris and Dowsey highlighted differences between good and bad meetings from a legal perspective, the council’s interaction with the citizens of Montrose, ex-parte communication while out and about in the community, and subject matter that would require discussion in a public setting.
The presentation touched on many different areas of ethics and potential conflicts of interest.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via 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 and on-demand through the city’s Public Meetings Portal.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.