By Joseph Lekarczyk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor
It was a big agenda Monday night at the Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting. Chock-a-block full of the usual stuff: work shopping about creating urban renewal districts, a report by Sgt. Nick Goldberger, approving liquor licenses, leasing town land, adopting late fees on utility bills, imposing limits on marijuana grows, approving equipment purchases for Public Works, approving the consent agenda, giving Trustee and Staff reports, etc. The real interesting item came after an executive session concluded and everyone had gone home. By everyone I mean Manny
Vasquez, who left within seconds of his family’s land lease approval (about 7:43 p.m.), local landlord Mike Whipp, and developer Bill Gray, who both admitted they “had nothing better to do anyway.” Those guys gotta get a life!
After conferring with Town Attorney Tim Cox, the Board decided to proceed with plans to pay off the mortgage on Town owned property (the Post Office Building) and use the annual lease income to complete a backlog of capital improvement projects (street repairs). The gist of the plan is this: the Town owns the Post Office Building and leases it to the Postal Service. The mortgage is scheduled to be paid off sometime in 2015. By taking money (a little less than $200,000) out of a surplus in the Town’s General Fund, to pay off the mortgage early, the Town would realize approximately a $20,000 savings in interest payments over the next two years. At the same time, the Town would then allocate the generated leasing revenues from the Postal Service (approximately $98,000 annually), which would have otherwise gone toward the debt service of the mortgage, toward the completion of the many scheduled capital improvement projects around town. The Board and Staff felt that this was one of those “win-win” situations, and needed to be acted on.
Now back to the afore-mentioned “usual stuff.” Lyons Substation Supervisor Sgt. Nick Goldberger reported that the cause of last week’s fire at the Riverbend Mobile Home Park had not yet been definitively determined, but authorities were leaning toward an electrical malfunction. He then stuck around to offer a law enforcement perspective to the marijuana grow issue that was on the agenda.
As the Lyons Liquor Authority, the BOT approved a beer and wine license for Julie’ Thai Kitchen, and also approved four special event permits for the quarterly art openings held by the Lyons Arts and Humanities Commission at Town Hall. The tentative dates are March 9 (this Saturday night, see article in this week’s edition), June 8, September 7, and December 7. All dates and times are subject to change, and will be subject to administrative approval if changes do occur.
After a very brief (no one spoke) public hearing, the Trustees then approved the second reading of an ordinance for a three-year lease with Raul Vasquez for the leasing of Town property (the old railroad right of way) behind the Blue Mountain Stone Yard. In an almost as brief public hearing (landlord Mike Whipp spoke and voiced his concerns about who is ultimately responsible for late fees, being “in the loop” about impending shut-offs, etc.) about imposing late fees on unpaid utility bills, the BOT decided to institute a $10 late fee, which will be accessed on unpaid bills as of the first day of the next month. Utility bills are due on the 25th of each month, so customers will have a three to six day grace period (depending on which month it is) in which to pay without penalty. This was of grave importance to Trustee Sandy Banta, as she voiced her concern about people going on vacations, and then the time lag of bank generated payments. Not everyone was quite as sympathetic toward “late payments” as Banta, since Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen informed the Board that “on average, we have to deal with about 120 customers per month who consistently pay late, and lately the number has jumped to around 200!” In the end, the matter was approved in a 7 to 0 vote.
During the first reading of an ordinance regarding the growing of “recreational” marijuana in residential zones, it was decided to pretty much follow the current limits for the growing of medical marijuana: six plants per person, with a limit of twelve plants per particular residence, and no outdoor growing. The second reading and public hearing for this ordinance will be held at the next BOT meeting on March 18.
The consent agenda, consisting of the February 19 BOT meeting minutes, the March accounts payable, the November 2012 financials, and a request from the Lyons Ditch Company to lease ten shares of Colorado Big Thompson water from the Town was approved after a short discussion about the November financials. Likewise a request to purchase “jetting equipment” for clearing debris in sewer pipes (approximately $9,000) was approved after a short discussion about the cost of buying the equipment versus contracting the work out, and the amortization of the outlay. A request to purchase ($24,000) and install a third electrical breaker out by the intersection of Rtes. 66/36, to prevent a possible “total blackout” in Lyons, was not approved. Mayor Julie Van Domelen voiced strong reservations about such an outlay of cash at this time, since she said the Electrical Enterprise Fund reserves were low, and the end of the year numbers for 2012 have been delayed because of the resignation of the Town’s Finance Director in December. Add to that some “over budget” numbers, and she just couldn’t justify such a large unbudgeted cost. Trustee Connie Sullivan agreed that if the money is not there, it’s not there, but felt strongly that if a total blackout of the Town were to happen in the warmer months, many of the restaurants could be in dire straits as far as spoilage of refrigerated foods. She and the Mayor and the rest of the Board agreed this item would be revisited when the end of the year numbers are finally tallied and they have a better idea where they are financially.
Speaking of finance, during Staff reports Simonsen gave the Trustees a classic “good news/bad news” report. The good news is she has hired a new Finance Director. His name is Tony Cavalier, and he has been employed as the Financial Accountant for the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The bad news is because of his present position, he can’t start his duties here in Lyons until March 29. But at least the Town will soon have a Finance Director in place. Van Domelen made three appointments to the Economic Development Commission. They are Mike Percival, Steve Beck, and Kenyon Waugh. At this point, the Trustees then went into the previously mentioned executive session after which, the meeting was adjourned.