Virtual Town Board Meeting: October 12, 2020

Virtual Town Board Meeting: October 12, 202010 min read

Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we approved the 2021 budget, and passed an ordinance to require inclusionary housing for all new residential development. Ready to find out more on what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, subscribe to the Laura for Superior podcast, 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 3 – Consent Agenda

Our Board unanimously passed the consent agenda – including meeting minutes and the Town Manager’s employment agreement.

Item 3D, a potential right-of-way agreement for the 88th Street improvement project, was pulled for discussion. The Thomas Family / CLADD parcel would need to be acquired to create the 108 foot right-of-way needed for the ten-foot wide multi-use trail on the east side and the future potential to turn this into a four-lane road; the negotiated value of this parcel is $280K, a price some Board members expressed concerns about. We discussed whether it made sense to do this now, if we didn’t have near-term plans to turn 88th Street into a four-lane road. However, we have already built the multi-use trail on the east side – so voting this down would likely require us to tear out that work if we couldn’t come to an agreement on the Town’s acquisition of this right-of-way. The vote was split down the middle, with Mayor Pro-tem Mark Lacis and Trustees Kevin Ryan and Ken Lish voting no on the purchase. The Town Manager will go back to the current property owners for continued negotiation.

Item 3E, consideration of an extension to complete the public improvements associated with FDP 3, Block 25, Phase 2, was also pulled for discussion. The Downtown Superior developer, RC Superior, requested an extension from December 31, 2020 to September 30, 2021. This extension would primarily accommodate the completion of landscaping on the north half of Block 25; it passed unanimously.

Finally, item 3F, a conservation easement agreement for the former CenturyLink property, was also pulled for discussion. The primary reason for pulling it seemed to be for each person to express thanks to Boulder and Jefferson Counties for their contributions. In the interest of time, I didn’t speak up in the meeting, but I am very grateful for this contribution – I absolutely love this land (as evidenced by it being my Zoom background for our video calls) and run its trails frequently!

Item 4 – 2021 Budget

Our budget is one of our most important tools to set and communicate town policies, goals, and priorities; it totals $51.5M, across four different budgets: the Town of Superior ($26.1M), the Superior/McCaslin Interchange ($1.3M), the Superior Urban Renewal ($11.8M), and Superior Metro District 1 ($12.2M). The draft version of the budget was published on August 14th, and discussed by the Board in virtual meetings on September 10th and 21st. Finance Director Paul Nilles summarized the budget in light of our Board goals, with highlights as follows:

  1. Enhance financial stability and business retention – continue to decrease the property tax charged vs assessed, and continue funding for economic development, including creating a new full-time role for an economic development manager.
  2. Provide excellent public services and public infrastructure – prioritize maintenance of existing assets (street maintenance, Purple Park playground updates, park furniture replacement, landscaping enhancements, tennis court light replacement, and also utility system capital maintenance), but also prepare to open Superior’s new community center at 1500 Coalton Road and fund new projects (build a new trail extension from Avista Hospital to Flatiron Crossing Drive, extend Promenade Drive to 88th Street, underground the main power lines in Original Town, and build two new parks in Downtown Superior).
  3. Engage residents through outreach and engagement – continue existing outreach.
  4. Strategically manage and enhance Open Space, Parks, and Trails – see above for parks, but also continue open space maintenance and education while working on potential future acquisitions.
  5. Promote and manage development opportunities – revitalize / infill the Superior Marketplace and hire a new full-time economic development manager.
  6. Support environmental sustainability – hire a new full-time sustainability analyst.

We considered reducing landscaping maintenance fees and sewer fees for 2021, where they were originally slated to go up 3% and 5% respectively; I was in favor of keeping these constant, since reducing them in 2021 would require us to then raise them higher in subsequent years to make up the shortfall. Knowing that most residents don’t look into the details of their taxes / fees, I think it’s better to keep the increases steady – that way people won’t get surprised by a larger increase next year. The rest of the Board agreed, and we made this change to what we reviewed.

We had some discussion about the $30,000 in the budget to give to the Superior Chamber of Commerce. A member of the Board suggested that we break up the $30,000 into two line items – one for the Chamber’s general use, and one for economic development. I was really unsupportive of this last-minute change, particularly given that we’ve already discussed the Chamber grant at length and had already come to agreement. As far as why I didn’t want to do this, there is a nascent trend in giving philanthropically without micromanaging how organizations can use the funds (check out this fascinating article profiling MacKenzie Scott and how she’s rewriting the philanthropy playbook). While this budget item is not philanthropic, I believe the Superior Chamber does great work fostering our local businesses, and I want their leadership to be free to administer their budget as they see fit. The Town and the Chamber of Commerce have a long-term partnership built on mutual trust, and particularly in a year where many plans will likely need to pivot, I’d rather give the Chamber some latitude – which I have full confidence they won’t abuse, particularly as we know they intend to come to the Town for a grant again next year. In the end, we agreed to divide the Chamber grant into separate line items on our budget sheet (for historical recordkeeping) but not put any requirements on the disbursement of the funds.

Our next line item to discuss was the budget for the Cultural Arts & Public Spaces (CAPS) committee. The initial budget for CAPS was set at $150,000, but it was reduced in our preliminary budget meetings down to $50,000 without CAPS getting to discuss this at a committee meeting and provide feedback. After some discussion about where we could possibly find additional funds (including outside grants), we decided to leave the Town-funded budget at $50K, solicit grants to cover another $50K, and potentially be flexible to look for more if needed.

Next, our budget included a line item for undergrounding the main power lines in Original Town. With the Town funding the undergrounding of the main lines, it would then be up to residents to bear the costs of connecting the final stretches of lines from their homes to the main lines. We discussed how to maximize Xcel Energy’s commitment to pay for more of this if we spread it out over time (rather than do it all immediately), and ultimately directed Town Staff to see if the Town can pay for it up front but still get reimbursed from Xcel in later years. We also agreed to allocate $20,000 for homeowner outreach.

Finally, we discussed the additional 4.197 mills we are authorized to collect in annual property taxes, without going to the voters for permission. (We last discussed this at our June 2020 Board Retreat. As a reminder, we are authorized to collect up to 12.127 mills, but only currently collect 7.93 mills. 1 mill is about $36 per $500K home, which becomes $250K when collected from the whole town.) However, given several infrastructure areas where we currently are experiencing a long-range budgetary shortfall, a member of the Board suggested we may want to start collecting the full amount. We ultimately decided to wait until after the election to make any decisions on collecting the full allowable mill levy.

When it came time to vote on the Town of Superior 2021 budget, the first resolution, levying general and library services property taxes for 2021, passed 5-1 with Trustee Ken Lish as the dissenting vote. The second resolution, approving the 2021 Town of Superior budget ($26.1M), passed 4-2, with Trustees Kevin Ryan and Neal Shah as the dissenting votes. The third resolution, approving the 2021 Town of Superior Fee Schedule including a 3% increase in landscaping fees, passed 5-1, with Trustee Neal Shah as the dissenting vote. The ordinance appropriating sums of money pursuant to the 2021 Town of Superior budget ($26.1M) passed 4-2, with Trustees Kevin Ryan and Neal Shah as the dissenting votes. Finally, we passed an ordinance modifying the Superior Municipal Code to remove landscape maintenance fees from the Superior Municipal Code and include these fees in the Governmental Fee Schedule by a vote of 5-1, with Trustee Neal Shah as the dissenting vote.

Next, we unanimously passed the Superior/McCaslin Interchange Metropolitan District (SMID) budget and the Superior Urban Renewal Authority (SURA) budget. We voted 5-1 to approve the Superior Metropolitan District Number 1 (SMD1) budget, with Trustee Neal Shah as the dissenting vote. Finally, by a vote of 5-1, we passed a resolution amending the SMD1’s service charge schedule, including a 5% increase in sewer fees, with Trustee Neal Shah as the dissenting vote.

Item 5 – Ordinance to Require Inclusionary Housing for All New Residential Development

Our final item was considering an ordinance to add a requirement for affordable housing to be included as part of all new residential development in Superior; we last discussed this at our September 14th meeting (I would encourage you to read my comments on that blog post before proceeding).

I support affordable housing, and also am in favor of mixing deed-restricted housing units into non-deed restricted housing developments (rather than segregating them and potentially creating blighted parts of town). However, I see the provision of deed-restricted units to essentially be a tax on developers – and I understand that developers see it that way too, and are indifferent as to whether they pay a fee or provide deed-restricted units. This ordinance essentially creates a limited pool of resources for us to provide inclusionary housing – and I want to see our finite resources used in the best way possible. Because of the requirement in this ordinance that the deed-restricted units be “comparable in design, size, and appearance” to non-deed-restricted units, we are only going to be able to provide a few families with affordable homes. In contrast, if we removed the requirement for the deed-restricted units to be comparable, we could potentially create many more affordable units with the same developer investment. Alternately, if we shifted from requiring deed restrictions on certain units to instead collecting an affordable housing fee (as Lafayette has done) or allowing for land donations / cash in lieu (as Longmont and Boulder have done), it would be another way to provide many more families with affordable homes rather than putting qualifying families into luxury homes not designed for that purpose.

The ordinance passed 4-2, with Trustee Ken Lish and myself as the dissenting votes.

Wrap Up

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 townboard@superiorcolorado.gov, or to me specifically at lauras@superiorcolorado.gov. 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.

One Response so far.

  1. […] 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 […]

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