By Joseph Leckarczyk
It was a good thing for the few people (3) still present at Monday night's Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting at 11:10 p.m., that only elected officials and paid Town staff are permitted to attend executive sessions; that meant that the rest of the “crowd” could pack up and call it a night, while the aforementioned trustees and staff burned some serious midnight oil discussing and determining strategies for
negotiations and listening to legal advice regarding the Town's energy cost-savings contract with Honeywell International, Inc. for the new wastewater treatment plant, as well as strategies and negotiations regarding the proposed purchase of property by the Town from the Highlands Ditch Company and a crossing agreement with same for the proposed St. Vrain Trail. By the time they reconvened the meeting and adjourned for the night (read morning) probably even the proverbial fly on the wall was fast asleep.
Lyons Substation Supervisor Sgt. Bill Crist of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office felt that things at FolksFest went, “extremely well.” He added, “We ironed out any problems from RockyGrass. The rain Saturday night caused chaos, but there were no injuries, just a lot of excitement and wet people.” He informed the Board that he would be scheduling extra patrols in the parks for Labor Day weekend.
Finance Director Anna Canada was enjoying a family vacation so Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen presented the Trustees with the monthly financial update for July. Things seem to be going well; the revenues exceeded expenditures in most funds except for water (repayment of loan expense) and wastewater (professional services expense). The Board also got a rough schedule for the upcoming 2019 budget process. They will get a draft budget around October 1, a sit-down with department heads around October 26, and approval of the final budget on or about November 19. And Simonsen reported that Boulder County has given their okay on the relocation of the water main running through Apple Valley, and will assist with the traffic control during construction.
During audience business five or six residents from Upper Fifth Avenue either spoke or had their letter read into the record. To a person, they all asked the Board to not approve a resolution that would “accept ownership” of a problematic sewer line that, they say, has historically always belonged to the Town, without first changing the wording of the resolution to indicate prior ownership by the Town. There were also concerns about “vague wording” pertaining to future maintenance and repairs of the line. Former Mayor Nick Angelo also had a letter read into the record suggesting that the “Trustee reports” portion of the regular BOT agendas be moved up to an earlier spot in the meeting (it is currently the next to last item on the agenda) so that the public might actually be awake and/or present when the reports are given.
No boards & commissions updates were given, but Mayor Connie Sullivan did use the opportunity to appoint several people to various boards/commissions: Amy Matthews – Lyons Arts & Humanities Commission; Greg Lowell – Parks & Rec Commission; Doug Miller – Planning & Community Development Commission; and Janet Corson-Rickert – Lyons Regional Library District Board.
Acting as the Lyons Liquor Authority the Trustees heard a request from The Stone Cup to modify their liquor license premise. Owners Sam and Mindy Tallent want to add a newly renovated small enclosed patio section on the west side of the building to the premise. There were no objections, and the request was quickly approved in a six to zero vote (Trustee Michael Karavas did not attend the meeting).
Two items were pulled from the consent agenda to be discussed later in the meeting. The remaining items: a resolution supporting an application to the Colorado Tourism Office for a marketing grant, the August accounts payable, and the August 6 BOT meeting minutes were then approved in short order.
Under general business the first item was a discussion concerning an existing intergovernmental agreement (IGA) and a yet to be determined development agreement between the Town and the Lyons Regional Library District. These agreements address such items as tap fee waivers, street and curb improvements, the relocation/demolition of the skate park, the relocation of the recycling facility, dark sky lighting, capping the existing RV dump station, relocating the emergency siren, the Town's use of meeting space, etc., and who would pay for what and how much. This discussion led right into the second item under general business, a resolution to approve said development agreement. Trustee Mark Browning, ever vigilant of the taxpayers money, had a lot to say about this. Browning, who was instrumental in the creation of the district, getting it on the ballot and approved as a taxing entity, and was a founding member of its board, reminded the Trustees that the Lyons Regional Library District Board has made a lot of choices since its inception. Whether to: move back into the renovated Depot Building or build a new facility; to incorporate the Depot Building and surrounding parcel of land for a new facility or pick a new site; to wait for the renovation of the Depot Building or rent a temporary site on Main Street (at a cost of $3K per month) among others. Browning stressed several times that he was not criticizing the way the district is being run, nor any of the choices made, just that choices of how to spend the district's tax revenues were made and taxpayer money was spent, and now the Board of Trustees is being asked to contribute taxpayer money/waivers to the district. He was adamant that public input was needed to see how the taxpayers felt about this issue, and asked that a public hearing be scheduled for that purpose. Mayor Sullivan appreciated Browning's position and concerns, but reminded everyone that with creation of the library district, the Town realized approximately $100K savings in its general fund by no longer contributing funds to the running of the library. She also pointed out that by the Town using the Depot Building for its own use, it was saving monies that had otherwise been spent for needed office space. And she postulated that Main Street businesses benefited from the foot traffic that the temporary library facility brought to the area. She also pointed out to Browning that every agenda includes an audience business item, which affords citizens the opportunity to be heard on such matters. Staff was then directed to contact the library district board and come up with a draft development agreement, and the matter was continued to the Tuesday, September 4 BOT meeting (Monday, September 3 is Labor Day). Browning urged members of the public to attend the meeting and voice their opinions on the matter during audience business.
The third item under general business was a resolution to “accept ownership of the Upper Fifth Avenue sewer line.” A motion to do so was made and seconded, and then amendments to the motion were made. They addressed the perceived ambiguity of the maintenance and repair, word-smithing of certain sections of the resolution, and the payment of outstanding invoices for unauthorized (by the Town) emergency repairs that were made on the line in 2017. Discussion were had about setting precedents, the exact amount of the unpaid invoice, liability for possible not yet submitted invoices, and the cloudy issue of previous ownership and acknowledgement thereof. After which, it was made clear that the Town would provide regular maintenance (as determined by the Town Engineer) and repairs when needed. Since the previous BOT agreed to pay for emergency work that was done in 2017 on the undisputed portion of the Fifth Avenue main, and work toward an “ownership” agreement (which they were doing at this meeting) these Trustees didn't feel the need to also pay for the outstanding invoice, particularly since no one could come up with a definitive cost. This decision pretty much cleared the room of any remaining residents in the audience.
A discussion was had about what direction to go concerning the creation of the St. Vrain Trail (connecting the “Welcome to Lyons” sign with the intersection of Rtes. 36/66 to the east of town. Grant Supervisor Erica Archer informed the Board that there were still “significant hurdles” to overcome in negotiations with several ditch companies, and the deadline (December of 2018) for the $350K grant for the project was fast approaching. Archer cautioned if “significant progress” can't be shown in the construction of said trail the loss of the $350K grant money looms, and the Town would be on the hook for the already spent $65K for design work for the trail. Simonsen indicated that other money from a Boulder County source might be available if the grant money is pulled back, but she cautioned that using it for the trail might curtail plans for the scheduled repaving of some streets in town. Staff was directed to continue negotiations with Highland Ditch concerning the purchase of property needed for the trail, and to pursue crossing agreements with all the ditch companies.
Simonsen then gave the Board a housing update (see Amy Reinholds column in this edition for more details).
Browning then voiced his views during a discussion on the procedures for proposing items for the BOT agendas.
He felt that there needed to be a more clear, and perhaps written procedure so that both citizens and Trustees could provide more input. Sullivan indicated that any member of the Board could suggest items to be put on the agenda that they deemed important and necessary to be addressed. She said that traditionally the Town staff put forth items that needed to be addressed by the Board, and that she and staff usually set the agenda, and she reminded everyone that for the last five years, most of the day to day running of the Town had to do with flood recovery.
Browning requested that the Town Attorney, Brandon Dittman, look into how other municipalities handled the setting of agendas. Mayor Pro Tem Barney Dreistadt felt that there was no need to reinvent the wheel, and asked that Dittman not spend too much time or staff resources on the request.
Browning also drove the next discussion item on the agenda. He was very concerned that the proper amounts of sales taxes from vendors at special events and wedding venues were perhaps not being reported and collected accurately. Browning doubted if most of the vendors at the Planet Bluegrass festivals were licensed to do business in Lyons. He feared that if they weren't making the effort to get a fifty dollar business license, they might not be making the effort to properly tally and report accurate sales taxes either. Browning cited his over two decades of working as a lawyer for the state of Texas on exactly this issue, stating he was certain that a “significant” amount of sales tax revenue was falling between the cracks and not being collected. Browning said that according to his research, out of the ten vendors/caterers that wrote letters in favor of the River Bend annexation as a boon to the Lyons' economy, only one, Spice of Life Caterers, holds a 2018 Lyons business license. He added that as far as he knew Lyons Properties (owners of River Bend) didn't have a Lyons business license.
In speaking with River Bend managing partner Mike Whipp, he indicated that both businesses, Wee Casa and the Lyons Farmette, which do business at River Bend do in fact hold valid business licenses. Whipp added that as merely a “landlord” he didn't believe that a business license was required, but indicated that his partner, Steve Beck, had purchased one just last week.
Browning said he wasn't saying the vendors weren't paying the appropriate required sales taxes, he was merely asking that staff look into the reporting and collection of sales taxes with the state to check the numbers.
Both Sullivan and Dittman expressed a little discomfort that Browning was singling out specific businesses, so Browning said, “Fine, check on them all; anyone who puts on special events or weddings in Lyons.”
The two items removed from the consent agenda were then discussed. Trustee Joycelyn Farrell asked that the language in an ordinance regarding maintenance of trees and other vegetation within Town right of ways be simplified and made clearer so that a non-lawyer could read and understand it. She indicated she had to re-read it five times to get the gist of what was being asked. Mr. Dittman said he would do so, and the first reading of the ordinance was passed. The second item was the ratifying of a 24-month payment plan of Bonita Yoder's unpaid utility bill for her property on Park and Second Avenue. Browning still took issue with the Town Attorney's interpretation about whether Town Code allowed the Board to issue a building permit when there was an outstanding utility bill. Browning again said that he didn't agree (the same issue came up two weeks ago during first reading) and could not in good conscious vote to approve the resolution. Trustee Wendy Miller apparently agreed with Browning, and the measure passed four to two.
It was then just a few ticks before 11 p.m., and sure enough, the room was nearly empty (just as former Mayor Angelo predicted) when the Trustee reports were given.
The executive sessions were called at approximately ten minutes after eleven, and according to an unnamed source, the meeting reconvened and was adjourned about fifty minutes later.