Virtual Town Board Meeting: April 27, 202011 min read
Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we heard an economic development update, passed a resolution reducing the speed limit on Rock Creek Circle from 30mph to 25mph, discussed our meeting end time policy, discussed our sister city policy, established a Finance Committee, reviewed the first quarter financials and impact of COVID19 on revenue, and approved an open space purchase and sale agreement for 182 acres on the south edge of town. Ready to find out more on what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, or scroll to the bottom for a video recap.
Disclaimer: While I do my best to represent an honest and accurate portrayal of meetings and events, the following should be considered an editorial that represents one person’s interpretation of the meetings. At the request of my fellow Board members, I am keeping their points anonymous rather than trying to attribute my interpretation to them personally. For the most unbiased and complete information, I would encourage residents to watch the meeting video itself and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for the official meeting video and meeting minutes. Finally, I’d also encourage you to check out EngagedCitizens.us, which is a fantastic free tool created by one of our own residents. Engaged Citizens includes a repository of agendas, documents, and meeting videos, and allows you to search within a video to jump to critical parts. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!
Item 2D – Board Reports
During Board reports, I kicked off by once again bringing up my suggestion that we require masks inside public businesses (e.g., Safeway, Target), which I have been asking the Board to consider for several weeks now. Last week, Wheat Ridge’s mayor passed an order requiring customers and employees to wear masks inside stores through the end of May; on Tuesday night, the city of Boulder passed a similar ordinance, and Longmont’s City Council voted to direct their City Attorney to draft a measure if Boulder County doesn’t soon pass a countywide ordinance. Unfortunately, the rest of our Superior Town Board maintained their position that they do not want us to proactively do this, and would only support it if it were mandated at a regional or state level. Although I agree that a broad approach is preferred, when it’s already been several weeks and it hasn’t been mandated at either the regional or state level, I feel strongly that we ought to at least be doing this in Superior. This morning, I made my weekly trip to the grocery store, and went to Sprouts in Broomfield – where signage indicated that masks are required by local ordinance. Other municipalities are stepping up to lead the way on this; I’m extremely disappointed that our Board is taking a passive approach.
Item 2E – Public Comment
During public comment, resident Paul Ballew asked what the justification was for the potential decreased speed limit on Rock Creek Circle (item 3E). Resident Brad Walker asked about updates from the consultants tasked with abatement strategies for noise from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport.
On the topic of COVID19, resident Colleen Callin pointed out that we are in this situation because our national leadership was reactive rather than proactive; she encouraged our Town Board to be proactive and pass a mask ordinance rather than waiting for other leaders to do so. Resident Theresa Clark pointed out that masks prevent not only COVID19 but also other illnesses, which can tax our first responders; she encouraged us to require masks on Open Space trails, where it is difficult for people to pass with the required 6 feet of distance.
Item 2F – Presentation – Economic Development Update
Our town economic development consultant Adam Hughes from Better City presented an update on COVID19’s anticipated impact on the community, an overview of the CARES act funding, and local business outreach. Of the thirteen Superior businesses who submitted PPP/EIDL (Paycheck Protection Program / Economic Injury Disaster Loan) applications for round 1 funding, four received funds. Unfortunately, many businesses ran into issues with the fact that Wells Fargo is their bank (Wells Fargo has allegedly prioritized businesses seeking larger loans rather than processing applications on a first-come first-served basis, and the federal funding ran out before all applications were processed). Mr. Hughes also provided updates on his planned progress on the economic development plan, and asked about the Board’s opinion on including a distillery at 1500 Coalton Road.
Item 3 – Consent Agenda
Next, our Board unanimously passed the consent agenda – including meeting minutes, a new general manager for the Element Hotel, and a tastings permit for Superior Liquor.
Item 3E, a resolution reducing the speed limit on Rock Creek Circle from 30mph to 25mph, was pulled from the consent agenda for discussion. The three members of the Transportation & Safety Committee (Trustees Kevin Ryan, Neal Shah, and myself) all expressed support for this, as did Director of Public Works & Utilities Alex Ariniello. This resolution passed unanimously.
Item 3F, a construction contract with RN Civil Construction for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Headworks and Odor Control/ Equalization Pond Modification Project, was also pulled for discussion. There were some questions around whether this project could be delayed or reduced in scope, given the uncertain financial situation with COVID19. But this too ultimately passed unanimously.
Item 4 – Meeting End Time Policy
Next, our Board reconsidered our meeting end time policy, which currently requires a unanimous vote for us to extend a meeting past 11:00pm. One Board member felt that it did not make sense for this to require a unanimous vote, and that we should revise it to be a majority.
I personally disagree that we should move away from unanimity in deciding to extend a late night meeting. At our Board Retreat last week, we agreed to move our Board reports to the beginning of meeting agendas rather than the end, because the consensus was that the reports often got cut short by doing them at the end. As one Board member stated: “If I hear an update at 10:45 rather than 6:15, it hits my brain differently” – which I completely agree with. But, the corollary to that is that I don’t think we should be doing our regular agenda items that late either and giving them short shrift.
Resident Jennifer Hilton spoke up in public comment to say that she works in sales training, and has learned that it’s extremely difficult for people to make decisions after five or six hours of meetings. If anyone isn’t comfortable making a good decision late at night, after we’ve already been sitting in the meeting for five or six hours straight, I would rather we don’t continue the meeting instead of forcing someone into decisionmaking they are not comfortable with. While one member of the Board argued that if someone were tired, the rest of the Board should respect that and all vote not to continue the meeting (meaning a majority vote would suffice), I think it’s disingenuous to say the Board “should” respect that; if the Board truly plans to respect a single person’s judgment that they aren’t able to continue and make good decisions, then the requirement of a unanimous vote would ensure that respect.
The Board directed Town Staff to draft a new policy for potential consideration.
Item 5 – Sister City Policy
Fifth on the agenda, our Board considered a policy to identify the objectives, criteria, and procedures for sister city affiliations for the Town. One member of the Board noted that while supportive of the program generally, he would not be supportive of spending taxpayer dollars for this program, and pointed out that a lot of Town Staff hours would likely need to go toward supporting it. While I was initially supportive of the policy, I thought this was a great point – and noted that I would like to see us add to the policy that we specifically also not fund visits for delegates of one city to another. With that amendment, the resolution passed 5-2, with Mayor Pro Tem Mark Lacis and Trustee Ken Lish as the dissenting votes.
Item 6 – Establishment of a Finance Committee
At the January 27th Board Retreat, there was discussion of potentially forming a three-member Finance Committee for oversight on the Town Finances, to discuss scenario planning, and to make long-range plans. This committee would be similar to the Transportation & Safety Committee in that it would be made up of a subset of the Board rather than by resident volunteers; many of our peer communities already have such a committee. One member of the Board asked us to pilot this rather than making a formal resolution to establish a committee. However, I pointed out that there has been resistance from the Board to recording unofficial meetings (e.g., First Fridays, even though they are now virtual and easily recorded). I feel strongly that if this Finance meeting is going to be held / piloted, it ought to be both noticed and recorded, so for that reason, I’d like to make this an official committee.
The resolution to establish the Finance Committee passed 6-1, with Trustee Kevin Ryan as the dissenting vote.
Item 7 – First Quarter Financials and Impact of COVID19
Finance Director Paul Nilles presented highlights from our Q1 2020 financials. Although General Fund revenues were strong through March 2020 (up 17% YoY), Director Nilles cautioned that data since March may be quite different. He pointed out that use tax revenues foreshadow a recession, and also lag following a recession. Staff created a “what if” scenario model that compares our current forecast to a model where we adjust our tax revenue down in 2020 and assume a full rebound in 2021. I still think this adjusted model is not conservative enough, and asked for us to start modeling decreased revenue in both 2020 and 2021. While there may be some revenue shifting (e.g., people shifting spending from restaurants to groceries), it’s really not a one-for-one move, since the cost to buy food from a grocery is less than to buy in a restaurant. From a retail and service perspective, people are cutting back their spending while they can’t go out, and industry reports indicate that it’s unlikely this gap will be made up in the future (e.g., they won’t get three haircuts in May even if they skipped two in March and April). Furthermore, many people are intentionally cutting back luxury / discretionary spending as jobs are furloughed or cut, and in preparation for a recession.
Director Nilles said he will add the two-year recession model, and also committed to monthly updates going forward.
Item 8 – Open Space Purchase and Sale Agreement
Finally, we considered a purchase / sale agreement with CenturyLink for 182 acres on the south edge of Superior along Highway 128. The property is currently undeveloped; it has many social trails running through it, leading many in the community to believe it is Open Space. Personally, I run on these trails with my foster dog nearly every morning right now! However, this land is actually zoned as Regional Activity Center, which is a commercial zoning, and the owner could develop it at any time. (After a potential closing, the Board could consider rezoning this to Open Space.) The Town’s Open Space Advisory Committee (OSAC) has identified this as their highest priority property recommended for acquisition.
The proposed purchase price is $15.1M, or $82.7K per acre. The primary questions we heard raised in public comment concerned the financing – where would this $15M come from? The Open Space fund balance is estimated to be $6.3M at the end of 2020 (coming from a 0.3% sales and use tax approved in 2001), all of which would go toward the purchase of the property. Another $5.3M could be financed with the remaining bond authorization approved by voters in 2005. Finally, Superior is working with Boulder County, Jefferson County, and the City and County of Broomfield on a potential conservation easement on the property, and funding partners through this conservation easement could contribute the final $4M. If this final piece falls through or takes a while to materialize, we could borrow from the Water Fund and pay it back over 8-9 years. However, the short version is that this purchase would dedicate Open Space funds for the next 20 years, and would limit opportunities for any other acquisitions.
I’m delighted to report that the purchase / sale agreement passed unanimously!! What a momentous moment for Superior.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read / listen to this recap – I hope it is helpful! Our Board is always open to hearing your comments, questions, and concerns – you may always email your feedback to email@example.com, or to me specifically at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a reminder, any messages sent to a government email are part of the public record and will have your name attached; if you feel the need to write in anonymously, you may always comment at the bottom of my blog post recaps.