Aldermen end year with new mayor

Janet Perry, Central City.  The last Central City Alderman meeting of 2016 was called to order by Mayor Ron Engels at 6:00 p.m. on December 20.



Mayor pro tem Kathy Heider, Alderman Shirley Voorhies, Alderman Judy Laratta and Alderman Jeff Aiken were present. Also present were Attorney Marcus McAskin, City Clerk Reba Bechtel, Finance Director Abigail R. Adame, Utilities Director Nelson, and Fire Chief Gary Allen. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all.



The meeting began with a discussion regarding personnel matters. Next, Don Boring, who owns Annie’s, praised the Council for their rapid response regarding a local business concern.



During the Public Hearing to discuss Ordinance No. 16-05, concerning the City’s water system, utilities Director Nelson explained that the amendments will codify two new monthly fees: the service line maintenance fee and the capital improvements fee. These would take effect in January 2017. The service line maintenance fee is anticipated to generate approximately $2,440.50 monthly and the capital improvements fee is expected to bring in $7,321.40 per month. The fees are meant to establish a reserve account to assist with defraying costs incurred by the City while repairing, maintaining or replacing service lines.



Kathleen Ashbaugh asked if there was a plan to compensate homeowners who have repaired the line outside of their property line. Deb Wray would like to have received more information on the proposed fees. Jack Hidahl had concerns about the customer owned meter and the maintenance by the City. Alderman Laratta brought up the repair, replacement or maintenance of meters that are in the middle of the street.



City Manager Miera added that any cost incurred by the city for replacement of meters would need to be recovered from within the water fund. He then pointed out that the Council had not discussed an ‘opt-out’ option for the service line maintenance fee. He summed up with a reminder that the city’s infrastructure and water projects are pending and the capital improvement fee will be critical to cover those costs.



Mayor pro tem Heider moved to adopt Ordinance No. 16-05 and the motion passed unanimously.



Next on the agenda was Ordinance No. 16-06, adopting water rates, fees and charges for water services. The water rates, fees, and charges, which became effective on January 1, are projected to generate approximately $63,894.50 monthly. This amount includes the proposed service line maintenance fee and the capital improvements fee. The 2016 budgeted revenue was $623,542.00. The current water rates and charges are insufficient to maintain, operate and improve the City’s water system.



Kathleen Ashbaugh stated that water is a necessity, not a luxury and should be affordable. She asked the City to find alternatives to raising water rates, such as grants. Jack Hidahl added that property tax was very low and it is unfortunate that we cannot count on residents to increase taxes to sustain services.  Alderman Laratta noted that the City has pushed back the cost for 20 years and now needs to move forward. Alderman Voorhies noted that the promise of 25 years ago, to have free water, has not worked out. Mayor pro tem Heider said that parts of the water system dated back to the 1800’s. Mayor Engels noted that churches and other non-profits may need to request assistance. Alderman Voorhies moved to adopt Ordinance No. 16-06 and the motion carried unanimously.



Ordinance No. 16-07 was next, proposing to impose a temporary 180-day suspension on applications for marijuana-related businesses, as well as discussing zoning and limitations.



Attorney McAskin said that since many municipalities in Denver and Boulder have instituted restrictions on marijuana establishments within their jurisdictions, Central City has started receiving increased interest. The concern is the loss of commercial properties necessary to provide a broader range of products and services within Central City.  It gives City Staff time to analyze potential amendments to the Municipal Code, including whether additional restrictions are merited.



Kathleen Ashbaugh suggested that the City allow marijuana businesses to apply and the demand would limit the viable businesses. Jack Hidahl said, “Colorado used to be known as ski country and now it’s known as marijuana country. We do not need more of this business.”



Michael Leyman asked that Council allow him to apply for license number six. His company has prepared for the application, has a location and guarantees that they will bring new business to the City, as well as help support other businesses.



Mayor pro tem Heider moved to adopt Ordinance No. 16-07 and the motion passed unanimously.



The meeting then turned to New Business. The first item was Resolution No. 16-28, approving a Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with regards to the Quartz Hill Tailings Pile.



The Nevada Gulch/Quartz Hill tailings pile had an impact on the ground and surface water in the area and downstream. In 2014, the CDPHE and the EPA covered the tailings pile in a mitigation effort, with a rock cap.



Earlier this year, Central City bought the Big T property. During the due diligence phase, several Federal and State Liens, and ongoing liability concerns were discovered. The City entered discussions with the EPA and the CDPHE and came to an agreement that protected the city from those costs. The proposed overlay district was part of that agreement. This would not change the zoning district beneath the overlay. It would, however, add additional requirements for soil disturbance in order to protect the local ground and surface water.



The EPA has agreed to release the Superfund Lien. The Lien will be released within thirty (30) days of the Effective Date of the Settlement Agreement, which obligates the City to fund and perform certain maintenance activities. Resolution No. 16-28 was unanimously approved.



CDD Rears announced that the Division of Mining will reinstall the Women in Mining sign.



Mayor Ron Engels read his letter of resignation and commencement of his duties as Gilpin County Commissioner on January 1, 2017. Alderman Voorhies and Mayor pro tem Heider presented Ron Engels with a plaque for 13 years of service to the City.



Council members then elected Kathy Heider as the new mayor. Judge Gloss administered the Oath of Office to Mayor Heider, and the meeting was adjourned. The next Alderman meeting was held January 3, 2017.