Jewish Baby Strollers Announced Town Board holds first meeting of 202, provides business relief – Estes Park Trail-Gazette - Jonathan Cartu CPA Accounting Firm - Tax Accountants
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Jewish Baby Strollers Announced Town Board holds first meeting of 202, provides business relief – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

Jewish Baby Strollers Announced Town Board holds first meeting of 202, provides business relief – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

On Tuesday (Jan. 12) the Estes Park Town Board was back in action for their first meeting of 2021. The agenda was heavy with items, and while some — such as Ordinance 02-21 – held immediate consequence, many were simple housekeeping issues.

Ordinance 02-21 temporarily extends the business license renewal deadline to June 30, 2021, and waives certain liquor license fees until Dec. 8, 2021.

“The impacts of COVID-19 and the measures enacted to slow its spread have put a significant burden on Estes Park’s small businesses,” said Town Administer Travis Machalek. “While some businesses have been only minimally impacted, others have struggled mightily due to shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and the ever-changing regulatory environment made necessary by the threat to public health posed by the Coronavirus.”

Machalek highlighted the efforts made by the Town, so far, including $300,000 in direct assistance to local small businesses, but says it is still readily apparent that additional business support is needed.

“While the Town cannot provide complete relief for all of the economic hardships faced by our small businesses during this pandemic, there are steps we can take to help in these times where every dollar counts,” Machalek said. “Accordingly, staff will continue to bring forward opportunities for the Town to support our small business community to the Town Board. Ordinance 02-21 addresses two such opportunities.”

The two opportunities he is referring to are: 1) the waiving of Town liquor license renewal fees for all license categories except ‘Retail Liquor Store’ and ‘Fermented Malt Off Premise’ licenses to be in line with Senate Bill 20B-001 which waived State renewal fees through Dec. 7, 2021, and 2) the temporary extension of the Town’s business license renewal deadline with the exception of Vacation Home and Bed and Breakfast license renewals.

“Even though it is not a large amount of relief for any one business, it does make a difference. We think that every dollar makes a difference at this point,” said Machalek.

The waiving of one year of liquor licenses is a $50,000 revenue decrease that is not currently budgeted.

“That’s $50,000 of revenue that we would forego but it would also be $50,000 back in the pocket, or never leaving the pockets rather, of our businesses … ,” said Machalek.

Ordinance 02-21 was passed unanimously. A video of the Town Board discussion of Ordinance 02-21 is below.

Policy 671

Policy 671 pertains to the Town’s funding of outside entities.

According to Assistant Town Administrator Jason Damweber, during Budget Work Sessions held in October, the Town Board expressed interest in reassessing the eligibility criteria for Town funding of outside entities, particularly those related to Community Initiative Funding.

Concern was expressed about the lack of existing eligibility restrictions stated in Policy 671, and more specifically, some Trustees questioned whether it was appropriate for Town funds to be used to support other taxing districts or organizations that support those taxing districts. There were also questions about the appropriateness of Town funds supporting organizations that are primarily funded through their membership.

Town Staff proposed revising the eligibility criteria section of Policy 671, Section 3(b)ii, as follows:

“Any entity or group serving the Estes Valley is eligible to apply for Community Initiative funding, except those groups receiving Base funding under Section 3.a of this policy, other taxing districts, and organizations that exist for the purpose of providing financial support and/or fundraising for other taxing districts. Base funding recipients must ask for all desired funds through the Base funding process.”

2021 Lineworker pay scale

The Board passed a modified Lineworker pay scale that more aligns with industry standards to address ongoing recruitment and retention of Journey Lineworkers once they have completed the approximately four-year apprentice program.

According to Town Clerk and Human Resources Director Jackie Williamson, Town Staff has seen a trend over the past decade of Apprentice Lineworkers completing their training in Estes Park and then leaving once they have received their Journey Lineworker credentials to other private entities such a Rural Electric Authorities and Excel Energy.

This trend has also been experienced by the other PRPA sister cities at a cost of approximately $90,000 per apprentice.

Williamson says the industry standard for a Journey Lineworker is to pay each at the same rate regardless of their years of experience because each has the same skill set to complete the work. The Town’s current pay scales for all positions, with the exception of an Apprentice Lineworker who have a set pay rate for each apprentice step completed, consist of a pay range which includes a minimum, midpoint and maximum.

“The current Lineworker pay scale contains a 15 percent pay range from the minimum of the pay range to the maximum rather than the traditional 35 percent. It has been noted it takes approximately three to four years to move through this modified pay range if the Town provides a two percent merit each year,” Williamson said in a memo to the Board. “This extended timeframe has been the source for losing Journey Lineworkers during their first year because they can leave Estes Park and make $6 to $9/hour more immediately after completing their apprenticeship.”

The Board approved a proposal that Staff worked with the Town’s compensation consultant to develop which included a revised pay scale that aligns with the Power Industry standards and the other PRPA communities, which includes removing the pay range for the Journey Lineworker and Lead Lineworker and create a standardized pay rate for each.

An Apprentice Lineworker at the first level would see a pay increase from $62,014 to $71,731 and an increase from $81,737 to $91,950 in their final year as an apprentice.

The Power and Communication personnel costs will increase by approximately $70,000 which requires an adjustment to the 2021 budget.

Planning Commission

During the meeting, Ordinance 01-21, which amends chapters 2, 3, 10, and 13 of the Estes Park Development Code regarding minor adjustments and subdivisions, was presented by Senior Planner Jeff Woeber.

The objective of the ordinance is to allow a Boundary Adjustment, Amended Plat, or Land Consolidation Plat to be defined as a Minor Adjustment, and to be processed as a staff level review. The amendment also proposes increasing the time for submitting a subdivision plat for recording from the current 60 days, to 180 days.

Woeber says the advantages of the ordinance are that it “Establishes and clarifies a review procedure for Amended Plats and similar that can streamline the review process, which benefits the Town officials, staff, and the residents of Estes Park, and provides a more reasonable and realistic time period to submit a plat for recordation.

The only foreseen disadvantages would be that is adds slightly to Code length and complexity.

Town appoints audit firm

Town Finance Director Duane Hudson was present at the meeting to help the Board formally appoint a new audit firm to perform the Town’s audit for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020 with optional renewals for the next four years through 2024.

Audit services were bid out Oct. 28, 2020,  and four audit proposals were received by the Nov. 23 due date. A proposal evaluation team consisting of Town Administrator Machalek, Director Hudson, Accounting Manager Laura Garcia, Accountant Karen Johnson, and Grant Coordinator Sharla Beesley reviewed the audit proposal and ranked them by technical qualifications.

On Dec. 10-11, 2020, the four firms were interviewed by Mayor Koenig and Trustee MacAlpine, with multiple Town Staff members present.  It was recommended by the interviewers, and approved by the Board that the firm Haynie and Company be awarded the contract.

The audit is an annual expense budgeted at a total of $57,000 for 2021. The audit fee for 2020 is $49,000, which comes in under budget.

Resolution 04-21

Resolution 04-21 is a second amendment to a Professional Services Agreement with SAFEBuilt Colorado for renewal of a building safety services agreement.

The amendment exercises a renewal clause in the current contract to extend the contract through 2021. Except for the renewed timeframe, no changes to the existing contract were proposed in 2021.

According to a memo to the Town Board from Community Development Director Randy Hunt, the Town and SAFEBuilt have had a contractual agreement for staffing the Building Safety division in the Community Development Department and performing operational services and responsibilities in the division on behalf of the Town and community since 2019.

“This contract and the services performed pursuant to it have proven more than satisfactory over almost two years,” said Hunt. “Both Town staff and SAFEBuilt personnel are pleased with the contract and believe renewing it without material change is in all parties’ best interest.”

Miscellaneous

There were three Resolutions on the Consent Agenda, including Resolution 03-21 approving a Waiver and Release Agreement with the Colorado Economic Development Commission, City of Loveland, Town of Windsor, and Larimer County and the Northern Colorado Regional Tourism Authority and to approve an agreement the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has identified as necessary in order to restructure state financing for the Stanley Film Center.

“This agreement itself is a formality, I would say,” said Town Attorney Dan Kramer.

That Resolution was moved off of the Consent Agenda by Trustee Younglund and designated an Action Item.  After some discussion, the resolution passed.

Resolution 01-21 designated public posting areas and Resolution 02-21 corrects clerical errors in Resolution 71-20, and establishes 2021 parking fees.

Trustee MacAlpine reported that she received the first dose of the COVID vaccine.  During his report, Town Administrator Travis Machalek said that COVID is still the hot topic in the Town and the County.

“The good news is we are closing in on finishing the vaccination of our phase 1A folks. They are projected to be finished near the end of this month and then we can begin Phase 1B,” said Machalek.

He recommended that anyone who is unsure of what phase they fall into go to Larimer.org and navigate to the COVID-19 information page by clicking the link at the top of the home page, and then clicking the ‘COVID-19 Vaccine Information’ tab for the most recent information in the county.

“There is not clear, clinical evidence that those who have received the vaccine cannot spread COVID-19 to others,” said Machalek. “Masks and social distancing will remain important, even for those who have received the vaccine.”

At the beginning of the meeting, resident Ron Keas offered public comment on the Estes Park Health Living Center about how his group is fighting to keep the Senior Nursing Facility in Town. At the very end of the meeting, Mayor Koenig led a discussion on wether or not the Town Board wanted to pen a letter of support for the group.

While many members were in support of the Living Center, many members also felt like they were not informed enough on the situation to offer support. The Town Board did not decide to write a letter or support, but Board members were encouraged to offer their individual support.

During her report, Mayor Wendy Koenig announced a Jan. 26 meeting for the Town Board to receive training on communication, Colorado transparency laws, and properly dealing with journalist.  The Mayor said that journalists from state universities will possibly come and instruct Board members on how to foster better professional relationships.

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Jewish Baby Strollers

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