Virtual Town Board Work Session: April 5, 20219 min read
Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Virtual Town Board Work Session, we discussed potential ballot measures in 2021 for capital improvements, whether to hold in-person events in 2021, guidance on Advisory committee operating protocols, Board priorities on economic development, the second round of CARES funding, and an update on the 1500 Coalton Road community center. We deferred discussing a service agreement with Mountain View Fire Protection District, sustainability projects and priorities, gun violence prevention, attainable housing, bystander intervention training, additional Safer Streets projects, and street racing to our next Board Meeting on Monday, April 12.
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 not attributing any points to them. 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 1 – Continued discussion of potential ballot measures in 2021 for capital improvements
At our last Board meeting on March 8, we discussed whether the Board wanted to ask voters for a tax increase to fund specific capital improvement projects (CIPs) to accelerate their completion. We opened our work session with further discussion on this topic.
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. One option would be dedicated sales / use tax funding. We have a current Superior Metropolitan Interchange District (SMID) tax of 0.16% that will sunset on 12/31/22, so one option would be asking the voters to continue this tax for CIPs. We could also ask the voters to raise this sales / use tax further. Alternately, we could increase property taxes by 4.197 mills (resulting in about a $150 annual increase in property taxes on a $500K home) without going to the voters, which would result in more than double the revenue.
While at our last meeting, I had strong preferences for whether certain expenditures should be funded through either sales or property taxes, I added a bit of a nuance to my thoughts in this meeting. If we go to the voters with a potential sales / use tax increase to pay for a certain expenditure (e.g., to fix roads), and the ballot initiative were voted down, I would not be comfortable dismissing that vote to fund the same expenditure via property tax increase. While there are of course two pieces to this type of ballot initiative (the tax increase itself and what the money would be used for), I would see a majority no vote of residents to mean we should consider alternatives to that expenditure.
Item 2 – Discussion of whether to hold in-person events in 2021
Next, we discussed the Board’s appetite for moving forward with events this year – our options being to offer outdoor-only events, virtual-only events, postpone events until later in the year, or proactively cancel all events this year.
My perspective was that no matter what option we choose, we make sure to communicate our protocols very clearly to any potential attendees. There will be some people who will not attend any event where they are asked to wear a mask, and others who will be uncomfortable at an event with unmasked people who are 30 feet away. We won’t be able to make everyone happy, but we should clearly and definitively communicate the ground rules so each individual can decide for themselves whether to attend an event.
With regard to postponing / canceling events, I would like to see us move forward with COVID-safe events sooner rather than later. While I realize this may be a bit of a downer, I do not believe we will be going “back to normal” anytime soon – we will likely be doing some form of mask wearing and social distancing for months or even years. Rather than waiting to hold a big blowout when COVID is “over”, I’d rather we find ways to host smaller low-risk events this summer.
We also briefly discussed bringing our Board meetings back to Town Hall. I asked what the goals would be in doing so, and we talked about the need to be able to broadcast the meetings on Comcast (which we don’t currently have the technology to do for our Zoom meetings) as well as the desire to improve access to public comment for those who can’t access Zoom. When we discussed a potential requirement for all Board members to be fully vaccinated before coming back in person, I pointed out that it would open a whole new can of worms if we also made that requirement for members of the public to be fully vaccinated before being able to come speak. Therefore, I advocated for a hybrid approach – where people can access Board meetings either in person at Town Hall or via Zoom. I think technology has come a long way and we should be able to use it to achieve both of our goals.
Item 3 – Guidance on Advisory committee operating protocols
There has been confusion among some of our Advisory Committees, like the Cultural Arts and Public Spaces (CAPS) committee, around which activities require Board approval. In the past, committees have sought Board approval for any expenditures over $25,000, with less expensive costs being governed by Town Staff (as our Town policy allows). Committees have also asked for Board approval for “projects of significant interest to the Board” and for “projects that the Board wanted to highlight for public information”; however, those two categories are pretty subjective and impossible for a committee to determine on their own.
I am a huge champion / advocate for the CAPS committee, and I believe they have done fantastic work in just the few short years since their inception. In my opinion, CAPS has gone above and beyond to carry out so many projects in a very short time – from community art projects (like the community mural and prairie dog pop up art), to events (like the Main Event, Superior Shindig, and Grasso Lights in the Park), to professional installations (like the gorgeous Zephyr in Triptych installation at the McCaslin / Main Street roundabout).
To accomplish all of this, CAPS convenes their committee / subcommittees more often than the monthly cadence of most other Advisory Committees. As a result, requiring CAPS to come to the Board for approval of every item would either slow their progress dramatically or require them to get time on the agenda at every Board meeting.
In my opinion, part of leading is delegating responsibilities to others, and not micromanaging what you delegate. If you need to micromanage, you’ve likely either made a bad hire or not equipped the person with the tools to succeed – and you’re better off correcting those mistakes than allowing the problem to continue. When it comes to our Advisory committees, instead of micromanaging, I’d prefer we be more selective in our appointments to appoint only those we trust to do the job, and then allow them to do it. Otherwise, I believe we are wasting our (volunteer) committee members’ time by asking them to make a decision and then overriding it, as we have done in the past with subjective items like trailhead names and artist selections.
I certainly understand the need for oversight, but our Board approves the Annual Work Plans for all Advisory Committees. Perhaps we ought to make it more of a point to highlight any objections / potential concerns during the high-level planning process; that way, we wouldn’t get in the way of the execution by requiring additional approvals for every detail. Additionally, we all read / approve every Advisory Committee’s meeting minutes, and also have the option to attend / watch any videos of their meetings – if there are specific concerns, I think the onus ought to be on the Board to raise our objections rather than adding another formal gating process.
We didn’t resolve this item during the retreat, but a member of the Board suggested that as we are already scheduled to meet with CAPS at next Monday’s Town Board Meeting, we continue the discussion then, when we can hear from them directly.
Item 4 – Board priorities on economic development
Our new Town Economic Development Manager, Jill Mendoza, shared a fantastic presentation on economic development and priorities. Page 6, in particular, shows a (not yet comprehensive) list of key industries and target business categories to solicit for Superior. Ms. Mendoza also shared a new format for our monthly Superior economic development reports, and attached a very interesting Monthly Economic Indicators report describing the activities and trends impacting our regional economy (which starts on page 20 at this link). I am so thrilled that we have Ms. Mendoza on our Town Staff!
Item 5 – Second round of CARES funding
Early estimates are that the Town will be receiving $2.8 million in federal funds from the second round of the CARES Act; however, we are waiting to receive final guidance on what expenses will be eligible, how the funds will be distributed, and the exact amount the Town will receive. In addition, the governor’s office recently announced a state stimulus package that could provide significant funding for local governments. When these funds come in, we may need to hire consultants to best determine how to use these funds and which uses will be allowed.
We also discussed Congressman Joe Neguse’s Community Funding Project (CFP) initiative, which has a tight deadline of April 8 for transportation projects and April 16 for general earmarks). There was some debate around whether we ought to apply for these funds or take a more regional approach to soliciting funds, as we have done in the past. My perspective is that if there is funding available, we ought to try to get it, even if it is a tight timeline and it isn’t our best grant application as a result. If every town thinks that every other town will have a more compelling need, then there will be a lot of funding that goes unclaimed; I’d rather we submit and let Congressman Neguse and his staff decide if our uses are worthy.
Item 6 – 1500 Coalton
Town Staff shared an update on the remaining tasks for the completion of our community center at 1500 Coalton Road, which is expected to open in June or July.
We deferred the remaining items for discussion (a service agreement with Mountain View Fire Protection District, sustainability projects and priorities, gun violence prevention, attainable housing, bystander intervention training, additional Safer Streets projects, and street racing) until our next Town Board Meeting, next Monday 4/12.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read 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.