The Cedaredge Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Dec. 7 and gave unanimous approval to the town's 2018 budget. This action culminates a budget process that started in August 2017. Resolutions were also passed approving budget related items including the town's capital improvement plan, budget appropriations, and emergency reserves required by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). A resolution was also approved restricting fees for capital replacement and to honor the town's bond obligations, principal and interest payments, and debt retirement.
In other business, the trustees approved a 7.98 mill levy, the same level as 2017. Greg Brinck, interim town administrator, reported that residential property assessments have decreased and the town will collect less money in property taxes this year.
Pat Means, president of the Cedaredge Historic Preservation Advisory Board, presented plaques to representatives of three community buildings. The buildings have been added to the Cedaredge register of historic places; each plaque displays the year built. Greg Straton, owner of the building at 145 West Main Street, accepted a "1913" plaque designating the site of the historic Hawkins Barbershop. Buckley Peterson, representing the First Baptist Church, accepted a "1907" plaque for the Dr. L.C. Bolton residence in the 300 block of Main Street. The Bolton home has also served as the parsonage for the church. And Mayor Gene Welch accepted a "1912" plaque designating the historic site of the Girardet Feed Store, now the location of town hall. Each plaque recipient also received a notebook containing research on their building. The advisory board's historian, Ronn Brewer, conducted the research.
The trustees welcomed Stewart Byrge, the town's newly hired police officer. Cedaredge police chief Dan Sanders administered the oath of office to Byrge, a Paonia native who also served on the force there.
Regarding efforts to fill the vacant golf club operations director position, interviews were to be conducted Dec. 11.
Expenses for Neptune (brand name) water meters were approved. Following the meeting, interim administrator Brinck explained that the Neptune expense is not an additional expenditure. The $42,000 approved was initially budgeted for another water expense (the painting of the clear well) and whenever a designated expenditure is changed, staff seeks trustee approval.
Department heads provided end-of-year reports. Larry Murphy, Cedaredge Golf Club golf pro, gave the final departmental report of his career. Reflecting back, he estimated that since coming on board in 2008 he has attended over 200 town meetings. He reported that all end-of-year activities (inventory, printing of forms for next year) have been completed. He felt he was leaving the golf club in better financial condition than he found it nearly a decade ago. He identified one of the biggest challenges for coming years will be to interest younger golfers in becoming annual pass holders now that current pass holders are aging. He thanked the trustees for their support and they thanked him for his service.
Jerry Young, co-director of public works, reported that, for 2017, eight new water meters have been installed meaning eight new town lots are active, with as many as two or three more in the works. Eight may not seem like much, he said, but the trend is double that of previous years. On the negative side, water leaks have increased for 2017, 21 in total, but half of the reported leaks are in areas which public works plans to address given funds in the newly approved 2018 budget. New controls and filters have been installed at the water plant. Regarding sewer, the new plant has been in operation for a year and a half and the staff has learned a lot. Samples that used to take three weeks to process now take four hours and the efficiency of removing solvents is at 98 percent -- far higher than the Colorado state standard.
Police chief Dan Sanders reported that the department is glad to have its new officer on board. The department has been auditing its evidence vault and finalizing training. The department's training accomplishments have met or exceeded Colorado requirements. Chief Sanders reported that the community experienced only a few structural fires this year and he indicated that the fire department is actively seeking more volunteer members.
Interim town administrator Brinck reported that funding assistance for the town's Highway 65 waterline replacement has been confirmed. Support includes a zero-percent loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority plus a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs' energy mineral impact grant assistance fund which aids communities impacted by resource extraction.
The trustees discussed the matter of hiring a new town administrator. Mayor Welch recommended that the town not go to the expense of hiring a consultant. Instead, he advocated a small town approach which he outlined as posting/advertising the position for 15 days, having trustees review resumes and conduct interviews, and providing an open house setting for the public to meet finalists. Advertisement will begin in February 2018.
During constituent time, Kacy Stillings, president of the Surface Creek Saddle Club, and Melinda Katchur, Saddle Club secretary-treasurer, raised concerns about increases in the club's water bill. After hearing their concerns, Mayor Welch recommended they make an appointment to meet with him and interim administrator Brinck to seek resolution.
Constituent Steve Pierce asked whether recent changes in the golf course superintendent position (a person let go, a replacement hired without the vacancy being advertised) had been handled in a way that left the town open to liability. Trustee Al Smith indicated that he had raised similar concerns but said those concerns were resolved to his satisfaction. Pierce said such personnel practices would be questionable in the private sector. Mayor Welch responded that the person hired was a re-hire and, in any event, those who work for the town work "at will" meaning they can be hired or fired for any reason and that a town employee is also free to leave without notice. Pierce ended his comments by expressing concern that input he has offered at past trustee meetings has not been acknowledged or taken seriously.