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Hotchkiss trustees OK trees, set 2018 mill levy

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Uncertainty about which portions of Lorah Lane are owned by the Town of Hotchkiss and which lie in the county can only be resolved through a title search, town trustees concluded at their Dec. 14 meeting. Ultimately, the town would like to install a sidewalk from Hotchkiss K-8 to the highway, but it's not certain if there is enough right-of-way. The street is being maintained by the town, but a recent asphalt project was split between the town and the county. Private property also enters into the picture.

Determining ownership may be complicated, "but we've got to start somewhere," said trustee Tom Wills. The matter will be addressed again in January.

A request from ShadeScapes to plant three trees in the sidewalk in front of the business on Bridge Street was approved on a 3-2 vote.

While Wills said he appreciates any efforts to beautify downtown Hotchkiss, other trustees were concerned about maintenance and encroachment. ShadeScapes owner Jo Edmondson will be required to sign a maintenance agreement and to select the trees (up to three) from a Colorado State Forestry list of trees that are suitable for this climate. She was also directed to work with the town's public works department, to ensure the trees don't block any car doors and will leave five feet of the sidewalk clear.

A special events liquor license was approved for the Kids Pasta Project, which is hosting an awards dinner at Shadescapes on Jan. 15, the National Day of Service. One nonprofit will be selected to receive a $1,000 Building Bridges Award.

Wills has prepared a draft resolution for green energy options that would encourage the DMEA board to allow consumers to buy renewable energy that's been produced locally. Currently, green energy is available only from a Tri-State wind project in Wyoming. Wills said a local green energy option could create jobs. The town attorney was asked to review the draft resolution before it's brought back to the council for approval in January.

They authorized the town attorney, public works director Mike Owens and Mayor Wendell Koontz to update a memorandum of understanding with The Nature Connection. The MOU outlines in-kind contributions from the town.

A pay request from Tribble & Sons, plus a change order, were approved for the sewer line project. Town engineer Joanne Fagan explained the change order covers additional storm sewer pipe for CDOT drainage and the paving of Piñon Drive, which turned out to be cheaper than patching.

The 2018 budget was approved and the mill levy was set at 10.260, which will generate $94,276.00 on taxable property of $9,188,724. A temporary property tax credit of 2.464 mills will save property taxpayers $22,641 in 2018.

Sales tax, another major source of revenue for the town, exceeded expectations for 2017 and projected at $235,000 for 2018. It was also an unusually good year for tap fees, in part because of the clinic construction.

Capital expenditures include payroll software, a brush hog and a new vehicle for the police department.

A supplemental appropriation of $2,300 was approved for the garbage fund, which exceeded the 2017 budgeted amount.

Year-end bonuses, in the form of City Market gift cards, were approved for staff ($250) and trustees ($50).

Wills, Koontz and Mary Hockenberry represent the town on the Colorado Main Street project. Wills reported Region 10 will help fund a strategic plan. A follow-up meeting will take place in January with representatives from the Hotchkiss Community Chamber of Commerce.

It was reported the chamber had recently completed a walking map of downtown Hotchkiss. Copies are available at the town hall.

Fagan reported the financing is in place for replacement of the town's 450,000-gallon water tank and the project will go to bid in January.

Finally, deputy town clerk Ginger Redden announced petitions for the April 3 municipal election will be available at town hall. The mayor and three trustees will be elected by mail ballot. Candidates interested in seeking office can contact town hall at 872-3663.

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