Montrose, CO — City Councilors met online for a virtual work session Monday morning, May 4, to get an update on city operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss a number of contract award recommendations along with an update on the 2021 budget. Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met for about one hour, 29 minutes on Zoom, along with city staff. Monday’s work session was the first City Council meeting led by Mayor Barbara Bynum.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW EMPLOYEES
City Councilors welcomed four new employees to the city’s workforce. Jackie Bubenik was hired as the city’s new parks and recreation superintendent. Matthew Magliaro was hired as an assistant city attorney to work on the city’s public safety efforts. Chris Iversen was hired as the city’s new competitive sports program coordinator, and Zachary Musick joins the city as a new G.I.S. systems analyst.
UPDATE ON THE POTENTIAL PUBLIC HEALTH FUTURE FOR THE ONGOING COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN MONTROSE COUNTY
Dr. Joe Adragna, Montrose County’s public health advisor and pandemic medical specialist, delivered an update to the council regarding COVID-19 infections in the community. Dr. Adragna said Montrose Memorial Hospital has taken the appropriate preparedness measures to stay ahead of new infections and the facility remains ready to handle a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.
As of Monday, there were 106 positive cases in Montrose with 11 deaths associated with the virus. Dr. Adragna said projected models showed Montrose could have had 120 cases at its peak during the initial outbreak. Dr. Adragna said social distancing and facemasks were key to the slow progression of the virus. Dr. Adragna credits a downward trend in new cases to effective social distancing measures on a community-wide scale.
The data Dr. Adragna cited is also affected by the statewide closures mandated by Colorado Governor Jared Polis.
Dr. Adragna said models predict a possible surge in new cases in the coming months. However, Dr. Adragna added the number of new cases would depend on how carefully social distancing measures are followed.
Dr. Adragna said the county’s Public Health Department is continuing to follow guidance from the state’s Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office to determine when to relax social distancing rules. For the past week a gradual reopening of businesses has begun, allowing local employers and employees to return to work.
Dr. Adragna said that as business and social gathering rules relax, it is still very important that residents continue to wear facemasks.
"If we all wear our masks, we protect each other," Dr. Adragna said.
City Councilor Doug Glaspell said he was concerned that residents continue to go out to shopping centers without facemasks.
Dr. Adragna said currently about two percent of Montrose’s population could be infected with COVID-19. If social distancing measures are not followed and residents fail to wear masks, the number of infections could jump significantly to 2,500 residents, according to Dr. Adragna.
Dr. Adragna said if residents have symptoms they should get tested for COVID-19. Residents should contact their primary care physician to get a note for a test. He also reported that Montrose maintains a robust testing infrastructure and has the ability to provide testing to those who need it.
PAVEMENT MARKING CONTRACT AWARD RECOMMENDATION
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid recommended the council approve a street striping contract to Stripe a Lot of Montrose in the amount of $181,399 to complete work on city roadways. The low bid from AM PM Sweeping and Stripes of Montrose was disqualified due to not presenting all required documents, according to Scheid.
CRACK SEAL CONTRACT AWARD RECOMMENDATION
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid recommended the council approve a contract with Armor Proseal in the amount of $120,000 to install crack seal material on city streets. The funds were approved as part of the 2020 Public Works budget.
Crack sealing is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain and extend the life of the streets within the city. The Streets Division of Public Works has a goal of crack sealing one-eighth of the city’s streets every year in an attempt to cover all streets every eight years. The plan for crack sealing in 2020 includes about 41.4 lane miles. The City of Montrose will self-perform about half of these lane miles and will contract out the remaining portion according to the availability and capacity of the city’s street crew.
2021 BUDGET MEETING DATES
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg said the 2021 budget meeting scheduled for this Thursday should be postponed until early June so the city can continue to receive revenue data from sales taxes that will be affected by COVID-19 closures. The City of Montrose receives approximately 80 percent of all of its revenue from sales and use taxes. The city has already seen data from March 2020, but will be looking at April 2020 to see how the 2021 budget will be affected by COVID-19.
The budget meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday, June 2, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg reported that sales tax revenues in March were down just one percent as compared to March 2019. Big box retailers helped keep revenues steady during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police Chief Blaine Hall said the Police Department continues to be very busy with the COVID-19 pandemic, yet officers helped with a recent seizure of 1.1 kilograms of heroin, or 1,094 grams.
The seizure is a significant removal of heroin from city streets and Chief Hall credits his officers with working with the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office to make the bust.
Chief Hall reported the department is excited to hire five new officers in the coming weeks. The Public Safety Sales Tax approved by voters last fall makes the new hires possible. Chief Hall said the new hires will be finishing up the law enforcement academy in the next couple of weeks.
City of Montrose Director of Business Innovation and Tourism Chelsea Rosty reported the city’s Office of Business and Tourism continues to work with local businesses as they begin to re-open from state-mandated COVID-19 closures. The city has moved a significant portion of its budgeted tourism funds to help promote and fund small business marketing and grant programs.
City Manager Bill Bell said all essential city services and operations are continuing to operate normally during the pandemic.
"Construction is booming," Bell said. "It never really slowed down."
Bell said the city will continue to follow the governor’s orders and look at possibly reopening city offices in mid-May. Bell said the city remains conservative with its finances in view of the possible loss of sales tax revenue from the COVID0-19 pandemic. This includes a freeze on all seasonal hiring for park’s and summer sports programs.
City Councilor Doug Glaspell said the city will need to be careful with the 2021 budget due to the lack of tourism spending in the area in 2020 due to COVID-19.
All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via on the city’s website and cable channels 191 for Charter subscribers and 970 for Elevate subscribers. Replays of council meetings are also broadcast at 6 p.m. on the same channels on days that council is not in session.
In addition, each regular meeting is archived on the City of Montrose’s YouTube channel.
Residents can watch all regular City Council meetings and work sessions live through the city’s website at CityOfMontrose.org/Video.