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Wellington Board of Trustees 11/14/23

by Nanci Wendland

For more information see the full notes document here.*


View the meeting agenda and packet.


From the Town of Wellington website: The purpose of this board is to provide outstanding municipal services for the community of Wellington both today and tomorrow.


Summary

Two proclamations were made:

  1. Small Business Saturday will be Nov. 25th.

  2. Love Your Lawyer Day will be observed Sat. Nov. 18th. Mayor Chaussee added, “We love Dan” referring to Town Attorney Dan Sapienza.

Trustees consider budget cuts to compensate for expected increase in water rates.


A 2024 budget update with increasing water rates continues to be a contentious subject with board members and the public. Rates are scheduled to increase in 2024 by 5% for water and 5% for wastewater. Town departments have already reduced 2024 expenses by approximately $600,000. Several trustees want to see additional cuts before approving the rate increase.


Public Comment

Resident Jeff Scofield said, “I implore you to address the rates and cost of water in Wellington. It is unaffordable. Up to 2x higher than other providers and cities.” He also pointed out that a large problem with water in Wellington is that irrigation water comes from the city’s potable water supply at higher rates. Non-potable water is not available to residents.


2024 Budget Update

Town Treasurer & Finance Director Rhoads reviewed updates to the 2024 Budget based on recommendations from the board at the Oct. 24th meeting.

Updates include:

  • Added a Park fund to the financials to track parks and recreation expenses.

  • Lowered the number of building permits from 70 to 50, reducing revenue.

  • Added funds from grant wards for 2024.

  • Included an increase of $325,000 in annual cost of water from North Poudre Irrigation Company (NPIC).

Trustees Tietz and Gaiter both agreed that town expenses need to be cut further. The board should consider reviewing and scaling back on July 4 activities and remove the cost for a second election in 2024. They had the idea to only plan and budget for one election.


HR Director Anderson requested both a 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and a 3% merit increase in 2024 for all Wellington town employees. Anderson said wage increases help to retain good employees and it’s less expensive than recruiting and training new employees. Wages are 35% of the budget and employee healthcare will increase 7%.


Mayor Chaussee and 3 Trustees were in favor of rewarding and retaining their top talent employees. Two trustees made the point that if residents must tighten their belts and pay higher water costs, how can the city say we’re giving 6% raises to the employees? They preferred 3% COLA increases only.


Public Comments

Lisa Chollet from the Planning Commission was present, and said she was offended by what she heard. The town staff lives here in Wellington, and water rates have nothing to do with pay raises. Her idea was to pay the employees and stop picking at the little things.

Resident Christine Gaiter said yes, water rates are affected by pay raises because there are employees in the water/sewer department. But all departments have budgeted more than expected, so covering the raises shouldn’t be a problem.


Action Items

Letter of Support for Safe Routes to Parks Grant application


A Wellington group of parents are applying for a $10,000 grant from *Safe Routes to Parks, a Colorado non-profit group with $3 billion available. Submitting the grant application requires a letter of support from city officials.


*(In collaboration with Safe Routes Partnership, the Safe Routes to Parks Action Framework provides local governments with evidence- and practice-based guidance on creating safe and equitable access to parks for all people.)


Wellington built a large community park on the northwest side of town. Because Wellington is considered a disadvantaged transportation community (no public transportation), these funds could help with planning safe options for school students and residents trying to get from the east side of I-25 to the west side of I-25. When the grant is approved and awarded, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will provide implementation planning and support.


Unanimously approved.


Ordinance No. 09-2023: An ordinance Recodifying Chapter 13 of the Municipal Code concerning Municipal Utilities.


This is a minor correction to add Articles 4,5,6, and 7 back into Chapter 13. These codes were accidentally deleted.


Unanimously approved.


Ordinance No. 10-2023: An Ordinance of the town of Wellington, Colorado Adjusting Utility Rates.

The board continued talks of cutting town expenses and renegotiating NPIC rates. The Deputy Director of Public Works Anderson reminded the board members that when they approved the contract and loan for water expansion in 2021, they were aware, and agreed, the town funds would start to go into the red in 2024. She said, “the town is exactly where they knew they would be.”


Mayor Chaussee agreed this was planned for and forecasted, so raising water rates should not be a surprise to anyone. The board is trying to set up the town for the future.

Once the plant is complete and growth can start again, the revenue stream will help offset the costs of the loan.


Public Comment

Resident Jeff Scofield asked if the issue is rising interest rates on the loan, or budgeting? He believes there’s a failure somewhere and the town should have had reserves to cover the years in red (negative balances).

Resident and Planning Commissioner Lisa Chollet said the wet summer season (not as much billing for watering), interest rate hikes, increased construction costs, and inflation all added to the high cost of water. An increase is necessary.


Voting on this ordinance was delayed to the Nov. 28th meeting.


Ordinance No. 11-2023: An Ordinance of the Town of Wellington, Colorado Adjusting Water and Wastewater Capital Investment fees.


Discussion and voting on this ordinance were delayed to the Nov. 28th meeting.


Resolution No. 47-2023: A resolution authorizing financial support to ratepayers through a General Fund Transfer to the Water and Wastewater Enterprise Funds.


Board trustees at previous meetings expressed concern that transfers from the General Fund to water and wastewater funds did not have any back-up documentation. Town Administrator Garcia explained this resolution will provide a paper trail for fund transfers. Documentation will be required to show how much, when, and why.


Unanimously approved.

Outside Counsel to be hired to help consider a potential Comcast franchise contract.

Town Attorney Sapienza requested $5,000 to hire a Franchise Attorney. Comcast is interested in setting up a franchise in Wellington to provide fiber internet and cable. These are complex agreements that need attorneys who know the industry. Town Attorney Sapienza found an experienced franchise attorney at $225/hour who will set a limit of $5,000 to complete the contract.


Trustee Tietz asked how this benefits the town and residents. Attorney Sapienza said the town will receive a franchise fee (not yet negotiated) and 5% of gross revenues. He said this is a great opportunity for additional revenue well into the future. Comcast gives businesses and residents a major fiber connection and could provide updated technology to the new water/wastewater plant. Wellington currently has 2 agreements that date decades back and should also be renegotiated at some point.


Trustee Gaiter wants assurance the attorney fees are controlled and kept at or close to $5,000. The final agreement for board approval to hire an outside attorney is based on adding a not-to-exceed clause of $7,500, and any amount over $6,000 must be brought to the board for further approval.


Unanimously approved.


The regular meeting adjourned at 9:58 p.m.


The board then went into Executive Session. All public attendees were dismissed.


From the Board of Trustees Agenda:

EXECUTIVE SESSION

1. Conferences with an attorney for the Town pursuant to § 24-6-402(4) (b), for the purpose of receiving legal advice relative to pending litigation related to the appeal of a site plan approval. The executive session will not be recorded and an attorney certification will be provided as required by C.R.S. §24-6-402(2)(d.5)(II)(B) that discussions in the executive session constitute privileged attorney-client communications.

2. An executive session pursuant to C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(f)(I) to discuss personnel matters concerning the Town Administrator, under circumstances where the Town Administrator has not requested an open meeting.

3. An executive session pursuant to C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(f)(I) to discuss personnel matters concerning the Town Attorney, under circumstances where the Town Attorney has not requested an open meeting.Thanks for reading the Colorado Citizen Observers Project! Subscribe to receive reports directly to your inbox.


*Citizen Observers further the commitment of the League of Women Voters to its principle of Citizens Right to Know, however, we are not acting as journalists. Omissions and errors are possible. It is assumed that users of this information are responsible for their own fact-checking. This could include contacting a government clerk, conversing with an elected official or staff, and/or asking us to speak to the Observer who attended. Share


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