Montrose, CO — City Councilors met online Tuesday evening, May 19, to consider a number of contract awards for city street improvements and hear the latest budget and tax revenue reports during the council’s regular meeting. Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met for about 49 minutes. The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Councilors voted unanimously to approve the minutes of the May 5, 2020, regular City Council meeting. The city’s archive of past meeting minutes can be found at: CityofMontrose.org/ArchiveCenter.
WATCH Tuesday’s meeting here.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT HEARING
City Councilors held a public hearing to allow citizens to review and comment on the performance of the City of Montrose in carrying out its responsibilities with the Center for Mental Health project #19-507, which was financed with federal Community Development Block Grant funds provided by the State of Colorado.
Kendall Cramer, the city’s grant coordinator, told councilors the city had fulfilled all of its responsibilities in acting as a pass-through agency for the grant funds between the state and the Center for Mental Health. In 2019 the city applied for a Community Development Block Grant from the state for $267,450 to help with rehabilitation and installation of a new roof and HVAC system at the Center for Mental Health’s new downtown crisis walk-in center located at 300 North Cascade Avenue.
"No direct funding was provided by the City of Montrose," Cramer said, adding that Tuesday’s public hearing is a requirement of the grant application.
Ed Hagins, the deputy director of operations at the Center for Mental Health was present Tuesday to answer any questions about the center and the project.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support and efforts to bring this money to our community," Hagins said.
PAVEMENT MARKING CONTRACT AWARD
City Councilors considered and unanimously approved awarding a contract for pavement marking or stripping to Stripe a Lot of Montrose in the amount of $135,000. Each year the city budgets funds for street improvements like stripping. Public Works Manager Jim Scheid said that the budget to maintain streets, including pavement marking, would continue to grow as the city expands.
CRACK SEAL CONTRACT AWARD
City Councilors considered and unanimously approved awarding a contract to Armor ProSeal in an amount not-to-exceed $120,000 to install crack seal materials on city streets.
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid said crack sealing is one of the most cost-effective ways to maintain and extend the life of city streets. The Streets Division in Public Works has a goal of crack sealing one-eighth of the city streets every year in an attempt to cover all streets every eight years. The city’s 2020 crack sealing plan 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 due to the availability and capacity of the city’s streets crew.
SALES, USE, AND EXCISE TAX REPORT
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg reported that sales tax collection for the month of March was down .5-percent as compared to March 2019. Collection for the year is down 1.6 percent. According to Wittenberg, year-to-date sales and use tax compared to 2019 show that retail sales are up $108,000 or 3 percent, construction use is up. 7.5 percent or $9,000, use and auto use tax is down 8.8 percent or $23,000, and total collections are up 2.3-percent or $94,000. The report showed a positive budget variance of 4.7-percent or $186,000.
Other notable numbers detailed were the March excise tax collections compared to March 2020. Hotel, restaurant, and total collections were down, creating a negative budget variance of 19.7 percent. Hotel excise tax collection was down 47.6 percent, restaurant excise taxes were down 17.9 percent and total collections for the month were down 22.5-percent.
Year-to-date hotel excise tax collections compared to 2019 were down 13 percent or $2,000, restaurant excise collection was up .3 percent or $300, and total excise collection was down 1.6 percent or $2,000 compared with 2019.
FIRST QUARTER BUDGET REVIEW
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg reported that most of the city’s critical funds, like the general fund, "are doing fine" through March 2020 with city expenditures at 23 percent of the 2020 budget. So for, according to Wittenberg, the city has collected 23.2 percent of the sales taxes it anticipated for the year. Of the city’s other funds including trash and recycling, sewer, and capital projects, only the city’s water fund is down slightly.
Wittenberg said golf rounds at the Black Canyon Golf Course are up so far this year, helping to raise revenue for the city’s municipal golf course.
Wittenberg said sales tax figures for the month of April should be finalized in the coming days. With the COVID-19 pandemic City Councilors are looking forward to seeing how much the crisis has affected city revenues, which could affect the 2021 budget.
PUBLIC INFORMATION REPORT
City Manager Bill Bell reminded councilors that the city has moved from a Tier 4 to a Tier 3 in its operations. Read more about what this means here.
GENERAL CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSION
City Councilor Dave Bowman asked if there is any way to modify local liquor ordinances to allow local restaurants to operate outdoor dining with adult beverage service. Liquor licenses for restaurants are based upon the service area of the restaurant. Most restaurants in town do not have outdoor seating and therefore do not have the ability to serve alcohol outside the physical boundaries of the restaurants themselves.
Bowman asked City Attorney Stephen Alcorn if there was a way to modify local ordinances to allow local eateries the ability to move operations, including alcohol sales, outside. Alcorn said the variance in local liquor ordinances would need to come from lawmakers in Denver. Earlier this year state lawmakers allowed restaurants to sell alcohol in "to-go" containers. To allow local restaurants to sell outside of the physical bounders of the restaurant building, lawmakers would need to create a variance similar in nature to the to-go variance.
City Manager Bill Bell said the city would work with local restaurants that need to potentially modify their license for outdoor service, including waving local fees. Bell said the city’s Office of Business and Tourism is working to help local businesses work through restrictions in place from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Barbara Bynum closed the meeting by thanking the seniors of the city’s Youth Council who graduated last weekend. The youth council will have new members this fall when the school year begins.
All regular City Council meetings are open to the public and are held at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. 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.
Work sessions are also open to the public and are usually held on the first and third Mondays of each month at 10 a.m. These meetings give councilors the opportunity to hear background information, ask questions, and have informal discussions about city policies and current issues before taking formal action through a public vote during regular council meetings.
Replays of work sessions are aired nightly following replays of the City Council’s regular meetings. Work sessions are also 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.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.