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Crawford discusses nuisance ordinance, gives employee raises

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On June 20, the Crawford Town Council met to reconvene its June 6 business meeting and to hold a work session. The meeting began with the reading of a new nuisance ordinance. This reading was held off until more council members could be present.

Crawford's new nuisance ordinance is similar to one already in place with a few changes to help enforce consequences.

"A lot of this was already in place," said Mayor Wanda Gofforth. She pointed out that the main difference between the new and pre-existing ordinance is the addition of fines if the nuisance isn't resolved within a timely manner.

Many of the council and city members expressed concern with the vagueness and subjectivity surrounding how a nuisance is defined. Examples of nuisances in the ordinance included manure, loud noises, excess bush growth, litter and stagnant water.

Gofforth clarified that any council member is an enforcement officer and can start a report if they see a nuisance. Town members can also file a complaint with a council member to begin the process.

A letter is then sent to notify the person, and if not resolved within a timely manner a fine is imposed.

"Everyone in this room has probably been in violation of this ordinance," said council member Chris Johnson. "We have to be reasonable in how we handle this."

After a lengthy discussion the council accepted the ordinance with one opposed.

Copies of the nuisance ordinance are available at town hall and will soon be available online at www.colo

rado.gov/crawford under "My Town" and then "Ordinances."

The fund balance/reserve policy and water/sewer increase discussions were moved to the next meeting on July 18.

Last meeting a citizen sparked discussion on employee raises. Gofforth presented charts on what the cost would be for a $2/hour raise for both public works director Bruce Bair and town clerk Cally Gallegos.

She emphasized that because they do not have a third full-time position any more, this raise would be possible. This monthly cost of about $693.14 for both would come out of three funds -- general, water and sewer.

"I think we'll get some negative perceptions because we're asking for a tax increase with the mill levy while giving employees raises," said Johnson. Others agreed.

Council members came to the conclusion that they needed to change their decision from last meeting and omit the mill levy to give employee raises without public scrutiny.

Council member Ralph Clark then expressed concern on what might happen if down the road they needed to re-hire another full-time employee.

"I've been down this road before," he said referring to a previous instance where they had to hire a full-time employee and struggled with the budget after giving raises. Gofforth emphasized that even if this did happen they would likely only hire part-time.

Bair suggested he only receive a $1/hour raise but keep Gallegos' $2/hour raise due to her hard work while still being a new hire. Council accepted Bair's suggestion and the raises will begin July 1.

Council then read the new water delinquency policy.

Revisions were recommended to clarify that the required full payment and possible late fees cover both the water and sewer bill. They decided to postpone the ordinance acceptance until July 18 for attorney review.

The reconvened council meeting was then adjourned and the work session began. Collenette Vervloet, parade coordinator and chamber secretary, thanked the council for their work with Pioneer Days and invited them to an appreciation dinner.

She also brought up the desire to increase tourism to Crawford and efforts are underway to create a Black Canyon North Rim stargazing dinner through a local restaurant, Diamond Joe Cafe and Saloon. This will be available any evening the restaurant is open for take-out; more details are to come.

The remainder of the work session was short with updates. Gofforth notified the council that the TDS franchise agreement arrived and will be reviewed at the next meeting.

She also told council about her experience at the Regional Economic Diversification Summit. A full report will be given on the July 18 meeting.

Bair reported that the state water inspection went well. He said the water level in Crawford is sufficient but warned it wouldn't take much to impact the town's supply.

"People need to be cognizant that excess use could catch up with us and we'll have to do something," he said. An emergency drought plan could go into effect if deemed necessary, though Bair hopes this won't happen.

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