Virtual Town Board Work Session: February 1, 202111 min read
Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Virtual Town Board Work Session, we discussed some potential new tax measures; how much autonomy our Advisory committees should have; our meeting end time policy; permanent virtual participation in meetings; the creation of a diversity, equity, and inclusivity task force; our intergovernmental agreement with the Louisville Library; potentially using 1500 Coalton Road for vaccine distribution; affordable housing options and our ordinance requiring 15% of development to be designated affordable; and economic development options and incentives. We deferred discussing trails for Coyote Ridge, oil & gas regulations, and our Board Priorities to our next Board Meeting on Monday, February 8.
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 1 – Continue Work Items at Next Board Meeting
First, we addressed a procedural item, and agreed to go until 10pm for this meeting. If not all items could be addressed in that time, we would continue them at our next Town Board Meeting (February 8).
Item 2 – 2021 Priorities
Next, we agreed to come back to our 2021 Priorities after the rest of the work session, so we could use those discussions to inform our priority list for the year.
Item 3 – Town Budget Discussions
Item 3A was around possible ballot measures around taxation. Town Staff wanted to know if there was Board interest in asking voters for a tax increase to fund capital projects and accelerate their completion. The Town has typically funded capital projects on an annual basis, but the number of capital projects for any given year always exceeds the available funding, causing delays or the inability to start some projects (click here for a list of currently unfunded projects). We could potentially fund these capital projects through a sales/use tax (similar to the 0.16% sales tax in the Superior Metropolitan Interchange District that is set to expire in 2023) or dedicated property tax funding. We talked generally about our appetites for each of those options, but I felt that it was difficult to say whether tax increases are appropriate without linking them to specific projects. (E.g., I might be supportive of increasing sales taxes in order to fix our roads, but not to redesign our disc golf course.)
Item 3B was around a potential expansion of Town Hall. I am personally not supportive of efforts to increase our office space. Through my full-time job at PwC in helping companies with their Return to Workplace (RtW) efforts, I know that the entire world is going through a massive shift in how and where work gets done. Only 13% of US executives expect to return to a full in-office model; most companies are exploring hybrid in-office/remote workplaces. With this in mind, I want our local government to follow a similar approach of exploring remote work options rather than spending taxpayer funds on expanding office space at Town Hall.
Item 3C was around support for a transition of town owned properties to 100% renewable energy within the next 3 months. In general, the Board was in support of this item. However, I think it’s important for us to look at specific initiatives and their cost, since everything involves trade offs. While I support a transition to renewable energy, I don’t want to commit to a three month timeline to go to 100% renewable until I have more insight as to what that would cost – and if a longer timeline or slightly lower percentage renewable would make more sense.
For item 3D, we discussed what type of oversight the Board should have over our citizen-led Advisory Committees. While there was a legitimate concern raised that right now we have some Committees being given more autonomy than others, I do not think the answer is to micromanage our Committees. I find it extremely frustrating when our Committees (or our Town Staff) spend a lot of time making a well-informed recommendation that our Board then overrides… and often for subjective reasons where there isn’t a right answer. (For example, whenever we need to name a trailhead or Open Space, our Board has often spent significant time reconsidering and ultimately selecting a different name than the committee recommendation.) If we are going to ask residents to volunteer their time to serve on our Advisory Committees, and we have vetted the Committee members through an interview / application process, I think we ought to grant them the respect of trusting their recommendations. While I certainly want to be in the loop on what our committees are doing, I would prefer that we only step in if they are about to make an egregious error. For this reason, I suggested that perhaps we ask all committees to include any decisions on the consent agenda for our meetings (which they already technically do, in the form of meeting minutes) – that way we can intervene if there is an issue, but we don’t need to slow their progress by making them present and get approval for every little item.
Item 4A – Meeting End Time Policy
We had a robust discussion of our current meeting end time policy, which is that meetings must end by 11pm unless extended by a unanimous vote of the Board. As discussed many times before, I am staunchly against changing our current policy.
When our work sessions start at 6pm, going past 11pm (in one case, until 2am!) means more than five hours of focused attention with only one quick bathroom break. I would never ask my colleagues or clients at my regular job to go that long in one stretch – in fact, when organizing workshops, I never plan more than 90 minutes without a break. Furthermore, I don’t think any of us make our best decisions late at night when we’re exhausted. It is extremely difficult for people to make decisions after hours of meetings – and all of us currently on the Board have full-time jobs, so we’re looking at 8-12 hours of meetings even before the 6pm Board meeting starts.
I like that the current policy means that if one person is not comfortable continuing past 11pm, we respect their judgment and do not force anyone to make decisions when they’re incapable of doing so. Last year, we had a female Board member resign in part because the exhaustion of these late night meetings was too much, and I thought it was interesting that the other female Trustee (Paige Henchen) and I were in support of the current policy. Perhaps we might have more female candidates for the Board if we didn’t insist on our meetings going until the wee hours of the night?? I would much rather see us focus on meeting efficiency and getting more done in the time we have; a glance at neighboring municipalities shows that we spend far more time in Board meetings than our peers, even those of significantly higher population / size.
Item 4B – Virtual Participation in Meetings
Last March, we established a policy of allowing remote participation in public meetings (Board meetings, Advisory Committee meetings, etc). On Monday, we discussed the appetite of Board members to amend this policy to allow remote participation beyond the pandemic and when in-person meetings resume. I am a strong proponent of open government – both from a transparency perspective, as well as encouraging public engagement – and I think allowing people to participate remotely helps with both of those goals. As a Board, the general direction seemed to be that we should adapt the policy to allow remote participation, but that Board members should participate remotely as an exception and not something they could do frequently. As mentioned earlier with my comments on the hybrid future of work and meetings, I would prefer us not to limit how often someone could participate remotely vs in person, and leave that up to the individual to decide what’s best. (If someone can’t be trusted with that decision, do we really trust them to run our town?) However, I am just thrilled that we are moving in the direction of a more open government. A revised policy will come to the Board for a vote in a future meeting.
Item 5A – Creation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Task Force
We discussed the potential creation of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity task force, with the majority of the Board in support. This task force would identify a roadmap and next steps to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusivity in Superior – which could include specific initiatives and/or the creation of a permanent Advisory Committee focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Just today, we received an email from a resident pointing out that our Superior Sentinel newsletter did not include any mention of Black History Month, which was an unfortunate oversight; having people focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion could hopefully prevent similar gaffes in the future.
Item 5B – Louisville Library
As part of our intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Louisville, the Town is able to appoint one representative to serve on the Library Board. Currently this representative is a member of the Town Board (me), and I am happy to serve in the role, but we discussed potentially allowing this to be a non-Board member of the community in the future. We also discussed our IGA as a whole, and what revisions might need to be made as we get additional library services in Superior at 1500 Coalton Road.
Item 6 – Vaccine Distribution
Boulder County Public Health is looking into creating large vaccination sites throughout the county, and wanted to see if 1500 Coalton Road could be a potential site for them to use, even if the construction has not yet been completed. Our Board was supportive of this use.
Item 7 – Brixmor Affordable Housing
We briefly discussed the potential to pursue affordable housing options in town, with two potential sites including the Superior Marketplace and the RTD Park-n-Ride. Staff has been in discussion with Element Properties around the RTD Park-n-Ride site, and Element plans to present a concept plan to the Board at our February 22 Board Meeting.
Item 8 – Changes to Inclusionary Housing Ordinance
Last October, the Board adopted an Ordinance to add a requirement for affordable housing to be included as part of all new residential development in Superior. The Ordinance required 15% of any proposed residential development project of 10 units or more in Town to be leased or sold at 80% of the area median income, with a fee in lieu allowed for developments of less than ten units. We discussed potentially removing the fee in lieu loophole, and what unintended consequences might occur if we changed this ordinance.
Item 9 – Economic Development
We briefly discussed the Board’s appetite to pursue incentives to attract businesses. One excellent point that was made is that businesses don’t necessarily “shop around” for locations, so we need to be proactive in selling Superior as a great place to situate a business in order to make it the first choice.
Item 10 – Local Business Passport
A member of the Board brought up the idea of creating a local business passport to encourage residents to spend money in Superior. It could be run using Goosechase, the app we use for the Superior Together Challenge, and potentially even supported by another iteration of Superior Cash. Town Staff will look into developing a program proposal.
Item 11 – Trails for Century Link
We deferred item 11 (trails for Century Link), item 12 (Oil & Gas Regulations Discussion), and item 1 (Board Priorities) to our next Board Meeting on Monday, February 8.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or to me specifically at email@example.com. 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.