Virtual First Friday: November 20206 min read
While the news today about a potential vaccine is promising, COVID19 case counts are rising dramatically in Colorado, and a vaccine will not come in time to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed – which they are projected to be in less than a month. At our last Town Board meeting, we heard an update from Jeff Zayach, Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health – I would highly encourage you to read that recap and click through to the Colorado COVID19 dial dashboard with the latest counts, which is being updated daily. Please do everything you can to stay home and avoid socializing with other households; the more each of us can do individually, the less we will need to lock down and mandate closures. And, if you do need to leave home, please be sure to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose at all times!
On Friday morning, I hosted November’s First Friday virtually, and was joined by newly re-elected Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis as well as our two Trustee-Elects, Paige Henchen and Tim Howard. Congratulations, Paige and team, and my sincere admiration and appreciation for all the candidates who ran for Trustee this year!
As usual, I will not attempt to provide a complete recap of every point, but will provide a short rundown of the topics I heard, which can help provide a pulse of the town. This month, a lot of our conversation centered around COVID19, due to the rising number of cases. Topics discussed at November’s First Friday include:
- Potential curfew: Our Board had been asked by the Denver Metro Mayors Caucus to provide feedback on a potential curfew from 10pm-5am daily, which Boulder County and other counties / municipalities were considering implementing. Personally, I thought this curfew would be a good idea – not because COVID19 is impacted by time of day, but because it would help limit the parties by teens / young adults that tend to be super-spreader events, and also because implementing a curfew would help remind people that we are not in normal times and they need to be extremely cautious with COVID19. (Bonus: a curfew would also solve the drag racing problem many residents are complaining about.) Several residents expressed support for the curfew, and we talked about about potentially reaching out to the Superior Youth Leadership Committee (SYLC) and other high school / college students for input and potentially unforeseen adverse impacts, as they would likely be the most impacted by a 10pm curfew. However, immediately after the meeting, we learned that Boulder has decided not to move forward with a curfew (though it’s likely that Denver and Adams Counties will).
- Business impact of rising cases: Boulder is currently at level 3, high risk (safer-at-home / orange) on Colorado’s COVID19 dial dashboard, and there is talk of potentially moving back to stay-at-home (red) due to the rising case counts and the prediction that we are on pace to run out of hospital beds in the next month. Moving to stay-at-home would dramatically impact our retail / personal services businesses in particular, and we discussed what we might be able to do to help businesses. Thus far, the Town of Superior has given out $315K in emergency business grants from the federal CARES Act funding (more details on our CARES expenditures here).
- COVID fatigue: One resident expressed concerns with COVID fatigue, mentioning that many stores have become more lax in their protocols (e.g., stores used to station someone at the door to wipe the carts and check for masks but now are leaving it to people to fend for themselves). The WHO recently published a report on how leaders can combat pandemic fatigue, and Trustee-Elect Tim Howard and I have been discussing how we can implement some of the WHO’s guidance here in Superior.
- Contact tracing app: Last week, Colorado released a contact tracing app; however, it is only as useful as the number of people registering / using it. While we likely can’t get data on which Superior residents are using the app, since the app does not collect identifying information, we discussed potentially creating a registry where Superior residents can self-report that they are using it – the idea being that if people see that their neighbors are using it, they are more likely to use it too. (During Friday’s meeting, the Town also sent an email to all residents to encourage them to download and use the app – please install / activate it if you haven’t already.)
- Dog park: A resident reported that in the Autrey Park area, the majority of people are not using masks – which is a big issue given the tight funnel points to get into / out of the dog park; people are often inadvertently coming close to each other as they chase their dogs. In my opinion, the ability to keep these amenities open is contingent upon the community’s ability to use them safely. If too many people are not wearing their masks in the dog park, I believe we ought to shut it down. I spoke with our Town Manager, and he is looking into improving the signage to make it clear that masks are mandatory at the dog park, and perhaps also let residents know that if we can’t stay safe and protect each other, we will need to shut these amenities down.
Other non-COVID topics discussed include:
- Property taxes: Since 1982, the Gallagher Amendment has allowed the residential and commercial property assessment rates to shift in proportion to each other; however, because residential real estate has appreciated at a much higher ratio than commercial real estate, homeowners today only pay taxes on 7.15% of their assessed home value. (You can visit this site and put in your property address then click “assessment” and “see breakdown” to see a complete breakdown of your tax bill and what goes where.) On Tuesday, Coloradans voted to repeal the Gallagher Amendment by voting yes to Amendment B; repealing Gallagher would prevent future cuts to residential property taxes by locking the residential property tax formula to stabilize funding. With Rocky Mountain Fire’s impending merger with Mountain View Fire District, we also expect the mill levy (property tax rate) to drop. This begs the question: does the new Board have the appetite to raise property taxes to fund infrastructure projects? We discussed this in our approval of the 2021 budget in October, and decided to delay increasing the mills for now; however, with two new Trustees joining the Board, we may revisit this decision.
- Click N Fix app: A resident asked about transparency into the Superior Click N Fix app, and how residents could see statistics / open items / resolution times; I took an action to speak with our Town Manager about this.
- Landscaping fees: A resident asked about our landscaping maintenance and sewer fees; as decided at our October 12 Board Meeting where we approved the 2021 budget, our landscaping maintenance fees will increase 3% annually and sewer fees by 5% annually.
- CAPS committee: Our CAPS Committee Chair Debbie Yeats reported that yesterday, two Boulder County artists added their creativity to Superior’s landscape – “The Eyes Have It” and “Peacock” at Community Park. The Sports Stable has also agreed to an 18 month installation of a new Angel Heart sculpture in the drop off island off Main Street. I’m thrilled to see CAPS finding so many ways to brighten up our town with new art!
Hope to see you at next month’s First Friday! If you have thoughts on these or other topics, I would encourage you to email the full Board at firstname.lastname@example.org, or attend our next virtual Board meeting on Monday December 9, where you may speak up in public comment.