Janet Perry, Central City. The October 18, 2016 meeting of the Central City Aldermen was called to order by Mayor Ron Engels at 7:08 p.m. in the City Hall.
Mayor pro tem Kathy Heider, Alderman Shirley Voorhies, Alderman Judy Laratta and Alderman Jeff Aiken were present. Also present were City Manager Daniel R. Miera, Attorney Marcus McAskin, City Clerk Reba Bechtel, Finance Director Abigail R. Adame, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Fire Chief Gary Allen and Acting Police Chief Patric Stanton.
Mayor pro tem Heider then moved to adjourn and move into Executive Session to discuss legal advice related to the Business Improvement District (BID) Act. The regular meeting was reconvened by Mayor Engels at 7:33 p.m.
During the Public Forum, resident Barbara Thielemann, Chair of MSCC, expressed her pleasure with the work on the Belvidere, beginning with the facade stabilization. She has recently attended a conference to gather information on possible grant opportunities for the Belvidere restoration.
Attorney McAskin explained that the agreement regarding the Municipal Code entitled Quartz Hill Overlay District had been revised by upper management at the EPA. The city would need to review those revisions with special counsel and the hearing was continued to the November 15th meeting.
Next was the Public Hearing for Ordinance No. 16-04, amending Article V of Chapter 6 of the city’s Municipal Code, regarding Annual License Fees and Gaming Device Fees.
The current fees include an Annual License Fee of $1,000.00 per year per device, and a Transportation Fee of $264.96 per year per device. The Marketing Fee runs between $60.00 and $84.00 per year per device.
The Device Fees have been approved yearly and will expire on December 31, 2016. The Alderman must approve the extension of the fee. The proposal would set the Annual Licensing Fee to $850 per year and the Transportation fee to $414.96 per year.
The decrease in the Licensing Fee and the subsequent increase in the Transportation Fee reflects the city’s need for funding for transportation related improvements.
Mayor Engels opened the Public Hearing for Ordinance No. 16-04 at 7:42 p.m.
Joe Behm, of the Central City Business Improvement District expressed the desire of casino businesses to continue with the per-device fee, earmarking those funds for cooperative marketing efforts. According to the BID statute, the BID may levy fees for services, and marketing. There were a few issues, including that the BID Board of Directors must approve how the funds are used. As not all board members have casino affiliations, this is not a “foregone conclusion”.
Behm then said that enforcement of such a fee was questionable and lack of payment could mean collections and court proceedings. This would harm the “integrity and survivability” of the program. This would also hinder any approved expenditures.
The desire is that the use of the collected funds benefit the businesses paying the fees, and therefore a CCBID casino-fee-based cooperative program would benefit the casinos with advertising and promotions. The money would not be used for general awareness, branding or event production. He said this last item was especially important, as the Alderman Board deliberated the annual request of $50,000 to fund the city’s summer events.
Behm added that the CCBID Board requested that the city enter into an agreement with an IGA where the city acts as collector of the fees and transfers those fees monthly to the District. The District would consider a reasonable monthly payment to the city for such services. This way, the city would not be acting as a taxing entity, but simply as an agency collecting a fee for one of its special districts and remitting those collected fees back to the district.
Following this discussion, the first Action Item under New Business was the appointment of an Alternate to the Historic Preservation Commission. Mayor pro tem Heider moved to appoint Christine Jackie Mitchell to the position. The motion passed unanimously.
The next item for discussion was Resolution No. 16-31, memorializing funding goals relating to the Belvidere’s restoration, maintenance and continued operation.
City resident Jack Hidahl presented a draft of the resolution to the council at the October 4th meeting. He highlighted the value of a restored Belvidere to the residents of Central City and Gilpin County, as a gathering place for social and special events. It would also generate revenue for the city, which would help offset some of the costs involved with its restoration and operation.
Commencing with the 2017 budget, the city shall identify a line item in the Historic Preservation Fund, identified as “The Belvidere”. The city shall fund a minimum of $250,000 each fiscal year from 2017 through 2020, in addition to any money carried over from previous years and any amounts contributed.
Beginning in fiscal year 2021, the city shall annually appropriate 25% of all grant funds received from the State Historic Society to the operational needs of the Belvidere.
Next was Resolution No. 16-32, authorizing a change in direction on Main Street, specifically between Nevada and Gregory Streets, as shown on the Traffic Plan. The resolution would approve the City Project and delegates authority to the Public Works Director to implement the plan.
The Public Works Department would be performing the majority of the sign removal, installation and traffic control. The total cost is expected to be less than $1500. The Resolution was approved, 4 votes to 1, with Mayor Engels voting nay.
Resolution No. 16-33, awarding a bid for the Wayfinding and Welcome-Gateway Signage Project (RFP 2016-CD-03) and ratifying the City Manager’s execution of the services agreement with WJS Signs LLC d/b/a Precision Signs. The project cost is not to exceed $64,616 and includes six wayfinding signs and two monument signs.
City Attorney McAskin spoke of a lawsuit filed by a former employee, Whitney Blake, against the city and some city staff. The EEOC had not yet ruled whether the case has merit, but the city would “vigorously” oppose and defend against it.
Attorney McAskin then reported that a lawsuit has been brought by Black Hawk and Gilpin County against Central City, Teller County and Cripple Creek, due to a change in the division of gaming tax dollars having been won by Central City, Teller County and Cripple Creek.
During Council Comments, Mayor pro tem Heider spoke of the Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Bob Dylan. Dylan spent time in Central City in 1960 and performed at the Gilded Garter.
At 8:42 p.m., Mayor pro tem Heider closed the meeting and opened an Executive Session to discuss legal advice with regards to employment agreements and the litigation filed in Federal District Court (Civil Action No. 16CV2494). They also discussed positions on negotiations regarding fire service to the city and unincorporated Gilpin County near the city.
(Originally printed in the November 10, 2016 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)