Hotchkiss council handles long agenda

By Eric Goold


A full council of six trustees was seated last Thursday night, May 12, and the Hotchkiss Town Council administrated its way through some 20 line items on the agenda.

Every seat in town hall was full when the meeting began at 6:30 but all had emptied by the time the meeting concluded nearly two-and-a-half hours later.

The first item of business was to swear in Mary Hockenbery. She took the oath and joined trustees John Marta, Tom Wills, James Roberts, Larry Jakubiak and Lindee Cantrell, then Mayor Wendall Koontz navigated the council through a busy docket.

On items that required votes, the council unanimously approved the renewal of the liquor license for Taco Hut.

Members of the Hotchkiss High School Alumni requested a donation for their ongoing effort to restore and preserve the H on the hill next to the high school. They will need a total of $7,500 for the project and are in an ongoing fundraising effort.

The path going around the H will be worked on by alumni, students and athletes at the high school. The perimeter will be framed with steel pipe and other improvements will be made to one of the first hillside monuments on the Western Slope.

"This is Johnny Hotchkiss' fault; he initially dug it," Koontz joked before the council voted unanimously to donate $200 for the effort.

The council held the first reading of Ordinance 2016-03, which would amend sections of the town code.

"This was an issue that was first brought to our office in 2015, when we were experiencing some quorum issues," town attorney Bo Nerlin said. "The thinking would be to make a change to the town code to reflect that the mayor would be counted for the purposes of establishing a quorum."

The majority of statutory towns in Colorado that have a mayor-council system allow the mayor to be counted for a quorum.

"One of the reasons we started down this path, as Bo indicated, we had an issue where we weren't sure if we were going to have a quorum and we still needed to conduct business," Koontz said.

Trustee Wills asserted that the current ordinance is already in compliance with state statutes and that the proposed new ordinance could create a situation where two trustees make the decisions for the whole council.

"My main concern is I don't think we've ever missed having a quorum," Wills said. "We may have had anxiety about it, but I don't think we have a problem."

"We've never not had a quorum in my experience, but we've had several close calls," Koontz said.

The council has until next meeting to propose changes and will take it up again in June for the second reading of the ordinance.

In other matters the council authorized Nerlin and staff to negotiate a franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy, which will then be up for a first reading at the regular council meeting in June.

June's meeting will also feature discussion of a memo prepared by Nerlin and staff about updating the Business Code. Hotchkiss has not updated its Building Code in over 10 years and the new version will reflect the current International Business Code and International Residential Code.