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Wellington Board of Trustees 11/28/23

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.


Members Present: Trustees: Jon Gaiter, Rebekka Daily, Brian Mason, Shirrell Tietz, David Wiegand, Mayor Calar Chaussee


Members Absent: Mayor Pro Tem Ashley Macdonald


Others Present to Note: Town Clerk, Ethan Muhs; Town Administrator, Patti Garcia; Deputy Director of Public Works, Meagan Smith; Director of Public Works, Bob Gowing; Town Attorney, Dan Sapienza; Sheriff Sargeant Cherry; approx. 5 town residents.


Summary

Two Ordinances passed on third attempt for approval to increase 2024 water, and wastewater capital improvement rates.


Rates for water, wastewater, and the capital improvement fund are scheduled to increase in 2024 by 5% each. Trustees Gaiter and Tietz continue to push for additional cuts before approving the rate increase. Town Treasurer & Finance Director Rhoads has previously said departments have already reduced 2024 expenses by approximately $600,000. Employee Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) and performance merit wage increases are at stake.


Wellington will be looking for a new Finance Director/Treasurer.

Don Rhoads, current Interim Town Treasurer/Finance Director, is stepping down. He initiated and assisted with several prior year’s audits; revised the financials to provide better detail; and trained staff to be more efficient and have checks and balances.


Public Comment - none


Action Items

1.Ordinance No. 10-2023: An Ordinance of the Town of Wellington, Colorado adjusting utility rates.

Deputy Director of Public Works Smith re-stated the proposed 5% water, wastewater, and capital improvement fund increases and the effects on the budget. This is the 3rd utility rate increase presented to the board.

Trustees Tietz and Gaiter continue to agree that if residents are being asked to pay more to live in Wellington, then town expenses should be cut deeper than proposed.

Mayor Chaussee and Trustees Daily, Mason, and Wiegand support the rate increases. Trustee Wiegand also wants the town to lead by example and continue to find additional ways to cut expenses.

Ordinance Approved: Yes - 4 No - 2 (Trustees Gaitor and Tietz)


2.Ordinance No. 11-2023: An Ordinance of the Town of Wellington, Colorado adjusting water and wastewater capital investment fees.

This ordinance was included in the above discussion on raising rates. An immediate vote was taken.


Approved: Yes – 6 No - 0


Public Comment

Tim Whitehouse, Planning Committee member, spoke as a resident. He supports the rate increases and gave some history of water rates to the board. Tim said in April 2020 the Wellington water fund was losing $9,000/day and the board at that time never increased rates. That’s why in summer of 2021 the rates went up almost 850%. “The town was hemorrhaging,” Tim said. Now there’s a new board who has modeled a budget and a plan for the future of Wellington. This is what should have been done when all the high growth started in 2019. Tim also added that Wellington is competing with Fort Collins for staff. Paying both COLA and merit increases is important to retain people.


The town needs a new Town Treasurer/Finance Director.


Wellington’s Finance department believes Don Rhoads, current Interim Town Treasurer/Finance Director, has done a phenomenal job auditing Wellingtons financials, cleaning up records, and properly training staff. He says he’s ready to transition out and pass the position to someone else more permanent. Rhoads said he doesn’t mind staying on as a consultant to interview and train a new person.


Typically, the Finance department uses an outside recruiter costing the town approximately $29,000. In the spirit of trimming expenses, HR Director Anderson would like to take care of recruiting internally. Director Anderson asked for 2 board members to be part of the interview team, and Trustees Gaitor and Mason agreed to interview candidates.


Trustee Gaitor suggested splitting the current job opening into 2 separate positions: a separate Treasurer and separate Finance Director. Rhoads will be questioned at the Dec. 12th meeting if this position should split into two, what the cost might be, and what would the job details look like. The mayor and other trustees look forward to hearing from Rhoads and agree to use internal recruiting by HR.


October Sheriff’s activity report

Sargeant Cherry with the Sheriff’s department gave his October activity report. The department has several new deputies starting in December.

  • Dispatch calls decreased 9%

  • Property crimes were down.

  • Vehicle trespasses increased mostly south of Wellington and breaking into locked cars which has the Sheriff’s concerned. Windows are not being broken. What methods are the violators using to get easy access?

  • Disorder and animal violations increased.

  • Traffic stops had a 41% decrease, but vehicle municipal code violations increased by 11,000% (illegal parking). The Sheriff’s are issuing a warning first, trying to change residents’ behavior.

Sargeant Cherry then asked the board for feedback. Have the board members heard any feedback from the residents, good and bad. The mayor and trustees all appreciated the sheriff’s department’s work in Wellington. They are not revenue-generating: they engage with all the residents providing a safe community.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:54 p.m.


*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.

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