Virtual Town Board Meeting: March 8, 2021

Virtual Town Board Meeting: March 8, 202111 min read

Hi neighbors! In last Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we provided feedback to CAPS about an outdoor musical event at Grasso Park; discussed a new program to support Superior businesses and encourage local spending; and discussed a potential tax increase to fund capital improvement projects. 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. At the request of my fellow Board members, I am keeping their points anonymous. For the most unbiased and complete information, I encourage residents to watch the meeting video and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for the official meeting video and meeting minutes.

Item 2D – Board Reports

During Board reports, I wished everyone a happy International Women’s Day, and also took a moment to welcome Boss Lady Pizza (and owner Whitney Hart) to Superior. The Superior Chamber hosted a ribbon cutting for BLP last week, and I wanted to call out what a nice job they did making it a COVID-safe event – with masks required, pizza pre-boxed in to-go containers, and buttons reminding people to wear their masks. I’m so excited for a new business opening in Superior, and especially excited that it’s a female-owned business!

Item 2E – Public Comment

During public comment, a resident shared feedback on some of the comments and proposed actions being taken by the Airport Roundtable.

Item 3 – Consent Agenda

Next, our Board unanimously passed the consent agenda – including meeting minutes; an annually approved Three-Mile Plan in order to consider any future annexations; a resolution changing the name of the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails Advisory Committee (PROSTAC) to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PARC); a resolution approving a lease agreement for Town office space at 100 Superior Plaza Way; an Intergovernmental Agreement with Boulder County to support a Youth Corps group to work in Superior during the summer of 2021; a consulting agreement with Farm-to-Spaceship, LLC for public engagement services for the Superior ARTery Project; approval of art prints for the 1500 Coalton Road community center (which you may view here); and a resolution to encourage state legislation to limit high potency THC products.

Item 3I, a Resolution in Opposing Colorado House Bill 21-1034, was pulled for discussion. This resolution would have opposed House Bill 21-1034, which would invalidate local laws limiting installation of gas appliances for cooking, heating, or electrical generation. (Basically – our resolution could pave the way for an ordinance that says new homes in Superior cannot be built for gas-powered appliances; electric stoves, heat, etc, would be the default.) I tried something new in soliciting feedback on this item on my Facebook page, and also shared some articles there on both sides of the debate. However, this ended up being a moot point, as the state bill was postponed indefinitely by the House Energy and Environment Committee.

Item 4 – CAPS Event at Grasso Park

The Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee proposed an outdoor musical event to go along with the next iteration of lights, “Look on the Bright Side”, at Grasso Park. The light show color palette will include yellow, white and rainbow shades, and the musical theme would include upbeat, relaxing, tropical-inspired music (e.g., Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole). This event would be held in the evening, and would feature an interactive musical light show with a live DJ. The Superior Chamber of Commerce also happily agreed to partner with the event.

CAPS worked hard to figure out how to host the event while staying within the COVID-19 dial framework for Boulder County, and proposed hosting it either the week before or after BVSD’s spring break (March 22-26). A ticketing system would be used to allow up to twelve people at a time to watch the event in a socially distanced way, with face coverings required at all times. The flow from the waiting area to the event would be in one direction, with temporary fencing set up to guide participants.

Last year, I was one of the first to say we need to limit in-person gatherings; however, we have learned so much about COVID19 and how it is spread since then. I don’t by any means think being outside is a panacea – anyone who sees me running around the neighborhood can verify that I always have a mask at the ready to pull up if I am going to come within even 10 feet of another person! However, I think CAPS has done a fantastic job planning this small event to limit risk, and I also think this event can serve as a proving ground for future distanced-but-in-person events we may want to have later this year.

The Board was generally supportive of this event, as long as safety measures are in play.

Item 5 – Business Support Program

Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Lacis proposed a new program to support our local businesses and encourage local spending. As part of this program, a resident would need to spend a minimum of $20 before tax / tip at each of five Superior businesses over a month period. The resident would need to submit receipts to the town for review, and then would receive a gift card to a local business as a reward.

The proposal was for the gift card to be $25, with a max of 1000 redemptions; therefore, the overall cost would be capped at $25,000, which would be funded from the Town’s reserves, as this would likely not qualify for CARES reimbursement. To provide context to that max number of redemption, for the Superior Cash (which didn’t have the burden of individuals needing to submit receipts), there were approximately 1,800 Superior households participating.

As far as the impact – this would mean the town would give $25K in gift cards to local businesses, and residents would drive a (hopefully incremental) $100K spent at local businesses. That’s a big boost to our local economy! When we gave out Superior Cash, one of the criticisms of the program was that many residents frequented the same businesses; this new program would spread those dollars out across the community.

There was a concern raised for households that may not have $100 extra to spend in a month. I suggested that we remove the minimum spend of $20 per business, but give a gift certificate reward in the amount of the smallest receipt, and cap the reward. (So someone who spends $5, $5, $8, $9, and $10 would get a gift certificate for $5 – allowing people to participate at whatever price point they are most comfortable.) We also discussed potentially using the Goosechase app, like we did for the Superior Together scavenger hunt challenge, so that residents would be encouraged to visit the business but would not necessarily have to spend money. There were also some concerns raised about the administration of Town Staff needing to validate receipts to issue gift cards.

I suggested that we set up two pieces to this initiative. First, another Superior Together Challenge, but this scavenger hunt focused on driving visits to businesses in the community; anyone who completes the new challenge would get a gift card. (To be clear – challenge participants would just need to visit the businesses; they would not need to necessarily spend any money.) And second, a program aimed at driving spend, which would be similar in design to the annual Safeway Monopoly program. Each Superior business would get a unique stamp or sticker to give to residents spending at least $20, and residents could either print off or pick up cards at Town Hall to collect the stamps. Rather than checking receipts, Town Staff would need to just collect the completed cards and distribute the gift cards.

I recognize that there are residents in Superior without extra money to spend, and I want to be sensitive to including them. However, it was important to me that we include a piece of the program aimed at driving resident spending in Superior in order to get that “multiplier effect” (where $25K in Town spend translates to $125K spend at local businesses). To me, having two pieces to the program allows anyone to participate in some way, while also driving true economic impact.

The rest of the Board was generally supportive of this tweak to the program, and our Town Manager will move this forward.

Item 6 – Possible Ballot Measures for Unfunded Capital Projects

Finally, we discussed whether the Board wanted to ask voters for a tax increase to fund specific capital improvement projects (CIPs) to accelerate their completion. The Town has typically funded capital projects on an annual basis with available funds for the year. However, there are always more capital projects for any given year than funding available, resulting in some projects either being delayed or not happening.

Since there is a 0.16% sales tax in the Superior McCaslin Interchange District (SMID) that will sunset at the end of 2022, one option would be asking the voters to repurpose this tax for annual general CIP projects or for specific capital projects, leaving the sales and use tax rate at 8.445% – something I supported. The other option would be asking voters to increase the sales and use tax rate to 8.80%. (For comparison, other municipal tax rates are Boulder – 8.845%; Louisville – 8.635%; Lafayette – 8.485%; Erie – 8.485%; Broomfield – 8.15%.) Option 1 would generate $6.7M for capital projects, and option 2 would generate $22M for capital projects, both of which would come through debt issuance / repayment.

A third option, though not recommended by Town Staff, was removing the 4.197 mill property tax credit that we have given to Superior residents since 2004. (This would result in an increased property tax for a $500K home by about $150.) Removing this property tax credit would generate $16M through a bond issuance – so somewhere between options 1 and 2. And finally, we could increase the sales and use tax to somewhere between 8.445% and 8.80%.

A member of the Board pointed out that the total of $53M for the current list of unfunded capital projects is a bit misleading – for example, there is a $15M line item to develop the Town 15, which the Board has never discussed and which generally hasn’t seen much resident support. However, it was also pointed out that our Board has other priorities that are not on this list and would cost money (e.g., sustainability, affordable housing). And speaking of funding needs, Public Works Director Alex Ariniello emphasized that to maintain the roads in their current condition, we’d need about $2.4M a year, whereas we currently have about $1M a year allocated – so this alone has a big shortage.

I want us to reevaluate the list of unfunded projects one by one before we decide to raise either sales or property taxes. I don’t want us to raise taxes just for the sake of having a higher budget; I want us to do it only if there is a need to do so. That said, I think that road maintenance is absolutely worthy of a tax raise if we can’t otherwise find it in our current budget. My preferred option would be to repurpose the current 0.16% sales tax for capital projects excluding road maintenance, to fund these additional projects without raising our sales tax rate above those of neighboring communities. (My assumption is that when we evaluate the list of unfunded projects, there would be some that would require the use of this continued sale tax – but we’ll see.) Then, to pay for the extra $1.4M a year in road maintenance, I’d like us to decrease or remove our current property tax credit and use that money to pay for road maintenance. Given that the majority of our roads are through residential neighborhoods, I think it makes sense for road maintenance to be funded through property taxes rather than sales taxes.

Town Staff is going to prepare additional information and some new options for our work session on Monday April 5, where we will continue the discussion.

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.

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