By Joseph Lekarczyk
They spent a lot of time at Monday night's Board of Trustees (BOT) discussing how to best ensure that good people, and lots of them, run for elected offices (Trustee seats and Mayor) in upcoming elections, and how to ensure continuity and institutional knowledge from one election/Board to the next.
Most municipalities have “staggered” four-year terms, meaning every two years, half of the seats are up for election (one election three Trustees, two years later the three other Trustees plus the Mayor). Historically that is the way Lyons used to do it. But, about thirty-five years ago the Town
changed to two-year terms for everyone (with a three term limit) meaning, at least in theory, that we could get an entirely new Board every two years. It's never happened, but it is possible. But the Trustees noted that, “We really only hit our stride as a Board after about the first six to nine months after going through the first budget process.” According to some “old timers” the reason for switching to two-year terms was because so many of the elected officials resigned before their four-year term was up, and the BOT ended up being comprised of more “appointed” Trustees than “elected” Trustees (politics in Lyons is a brutal, trying, and thankless job).
Different options to remedy the situation were floated. Elections every year with staggered two-year terms (loss of continuity with the constant turnover, plus voter fatigue were the “cons” raised); staggered elections every two years (for two seats) with three-year terms (against state statutes); go back to staggered four-year terms (no one relished the idea of a possible eight year commitment); plus a few other suggestions that were a little hard to follow. It was finally suggested that input from the public about what they would like to see might come in handy. Staff was directed to have the Town's lawyer look into it.
The prevailing sentiment across the Board (pun intended) was that the compensation needed to be addressed (read increased). The Trustees now receive fifty dollars per meeting (the Mayor gets one hundred dollars per meeting) for the two meetings each month, with a cap of five “extra” meetings per year when the occasional additional meeting is called (apparently a few elected officials were working “pro bono” after the flood because of the plethora of “extra” meetings). Trustee Dan Greenberg suggested a flat “stipend” of double (two hundred dollars per month for Trustees and four hundred for Mayor), and no additional for extra meetings to avoid the appearance of incentivizing the additional meetings. Trustee Wendy Miller pointed out that those Trustees who have young children pay more for childcare than they get to attend meetings, and she added that doubling the stipend, or adding additional compensation for childcare would be greatly appreciated. Trustee Barney Dreistadt agreed whole heartedly, even though it has been years since he and his wife had to worry about childcare. Trustee Jim Kerr leaned more toward Greenberg's position about a simple doubling of the stipend to keep it less complicated. Mayor Sullivan pointed out that “no one volunteers to run for office for the money,” but rather for the civic duty (everyone agreed), and she added that the childcare issue was real, and she lamented the difficulty she has run into getting women to volunteer for the various Town boards/commissions/committees, citing this as a major contributing factor. It was pointed out that the compensation that the Lyons officials receive is generally well below the average for towns this size. In the end, staff was tasked to look into this further, and there will be more discussion about the matter in the future. It should be noted, that any increase in compensation for the Board would go into effect after the 2018 election, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Speaking of boards/commissions/committees, Sullivan named Corey Pierce to the Parks & Rec. Commission, and Jim Crowder and Kirk Udovich to the Audit Committee. All men! I'm just saying. She also issued an Arbor Day proclamation during audience business.
During staff reports, Flood Recovery Project Manager Joe Kubala announced that the redesign for the McConnell Bridge is at 50%; should be at 100% by end of March; bids go out by April; with construction to start by mid- to late-May. The re-design for the Second Avenue Bridge is underway, and the construction for that will have to wait until after McConnell is finished. He expects the Second Avenue project to be completed by June/July of 2018. Parks & Rec. Supervisor Dave Cosgrove said the Lyons Valley River Park is in the final draft stages, with a further review sometime in March. Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen reported she hadn't heard back from the Highland Ditch people after their weekend meeting like she was expecting to.
The consent agenda, consisting of a first reading of an ordinance concerning use of water rights to the Big Thompson Water Project (an annual item), and three resolutions for: a grant to restore aquatic habitat in Bohn Park; a contract for pre-audit preparation; and approval of participation with a high water mark project, the February accounts payable, the January 17 BOT meeting minutes, and two more resolutions: to approve cost sharing funds for south St. Vrain 3 Creek restoration; and the participation in the Colorado Main Street program with DOLA (also an annual item), were approved forthwith. Two items were removed. Both had to do with the lease agreement with Planet Bluegrass for LaVern Johnson Park during festivals.
During general business, three resolutions determining services with various entities (Triple R Excavations, Blue Mountain Stone, and Lyons Portable Welding) were “reasonable and necessary” were passed. These came back to the Board from a few weeks ago because Trustee Greenberg felt that for future reference by FEMA and BOTs that more detail/justification should be noted to avoid problems and confusion. He was very complimentary of Simonsen and her staff for the excellent clarifications about why these services were contracted for before procurement procedures were in place immediately following the flood.
Cosgrove advised the Board that he felt confident that Josh Kravits, of Adventure Fit out of Boulder, would be able to take the Lyons Outdoor Games/Burning Can Festival “to the next level,” and Karvitz envisioned a profit for the event. The cost to the Town, $75K, is more than was budgeted for ($45K) so the Trustees asked that Cosgrove and Adventure Fit come up with a contract with performance expectations, etc., and get back to them at the next meeting.
Finally it was back to the Planet Bluegrass festivals/LaVern Johnson Park issue. A rambling discussion took place about whether or not the park was in fact closed to the public during those weeks, or just to people outside the 80540 postal code. If and how local residents could access the “back of the park and the river,” as well as signage, parking versus walk-ins, legal challenges, wrist bands, security for concert campers, whether or not locals wanted to even be in the park during those crowded days, having designated “locals only days” during the summer, close the park to the public completely, open the park completely to anyone who wanted to access it, variations on those ideas, and a myriad of other questions and suggestions. Finally it was decided to discuss the matter with Planet Bluegrass with the idea that the park would be open from the Sunday to Thursday before the festivals, and closed during the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the festivals. As the woman who the park is now named for would say, “Stay tuned.”