Montrose, CO — City Councilors met online Tuesday evening, June 2, to consider a number of ordinances, discuss program updates, and hear the latest sales tax report. Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met for about two hours 11 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 June 2, 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.
City Councilors voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 2503 to amend the zoning district of Lots 1-10,13,15-28, and 36-56 in the Estates at Stone Ridge from R-2 low-density district to R-3 medium-density district.
For over an hour the council heard from a number of residents during the public comment period and considered impacts from the change, including a possible traffic increase on Woodgate Road.
The ordinance will return for a second reading vote on July 7.
City Councilors voted unanimously to approve Resolution 2020-11, authorizing assignment of the City of Montrose’s private activity bond allocation to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, pursuant to the Colorado Private Activity Bond Ceiling Allocation Act. Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler said the program is a great way to spur local housing development by allowing developers to access funds from the state while the city does not carry any of the financial burden or administrative costs to run the program.
FUNDING REQUEST FOR RESTAURANT VOUCHER PROGRAM
The council voted unanimously to move $25,000 from the existing Small Business Emergency Response Fund for the Montrose Community Foundation’s Help4Hope program to distribute restaurant vouchers based upon financial need.
Councilor Dave Bowman requested a report submitted to the council after 45 days or immediately after the $25,000 is spent to see how well the money has been used and to gauge whether additional money is needed for the program.
Councilors debated doubling the $25,000 to $50,000 but decided it was best to assess the impact of the initial $25,000 before committing more funding.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH MONTROSE COUNTY TO APPLY FOR DOLA CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUNDS
City Councilors voted unanimously to enter into a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with Montrose County regarding reimbursement of funds expended in connection with the unexpected COVID-19 public health emergency.
Both the city and county declared a state of emergency as the initial response to COVID-19 began in early March. By declaring a state of emergency, the city and county qualified to apply for relief funds to help pay for unexpected expenses during the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CVRF) and appropriated $150 billion to be used by states, local governments, and other eligible governments to pay for necessary costs related to to the coronavirus pandemic response.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is responsible for managing the distribution of $275 million in CVRF monies. The portion of funds dedicated to Colorado counties and municipalities is $219,120,000. Each county will receive an allocation based on its per capita population. Montrose County’s allocation is $3,668,055.
Counties and municipalities must collaborate and form an agreement to distribute the allocation. Municipalities will then opt-in to the program and request reimbursement for eligible expenses directly from DOLA. Under the proposed MOU, the city will be eligible to receive $1.1 million in reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses for the period March 1, 2020, through December 30, 2020.
Grand Coordinator Kendall Cramer, who is working on this effort on behalf of the city, told councilors that, due to the short timeline to file for reimbursement, the council would need to vote to approve the MOU.
In general, CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars can be used for:
● Medical expenses related to COVID-19 (testing, establishing temporary medical facilities, transportation, and telemedicine).
● Public Health Expenses (Public communications, personal protective equipment, disinfection of public facilities/areas, public safety measures).
● Payroll expenses for employees substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19.
● Expenses related to complying with public health measures (food delivery for vulnerable populations, expenses to improve telework capabilities, and expenses related to care for the homeless population).
● Expenditures related to the provision of economic support in connection with COVID-19 (grants given to small businesses as a result of required closures, a government payroll support program, and unemployment insurance not paid by other federal sources).
● Any other COVID-19 related expenses that are reasonably necessary for the function of the government.
Cramer told councilors the program is an alternative to FEMA reimbursement but does not require a 25 percent match. However, for the city and county to receive funds, both organizations need to "opt-in" to the program.
Cramer said the city’s portion of the $3.6 million will be around $1,100,419 and must be used before December 20, 2020.
The money can be used for any unbudgeted expense related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cramer said the city’s Small Business Emergency Response Fund could be an area for reimbursement, but added that the city is still awaiting guidance from DOLA and the U.S. Treasury about such reimbursements. Cramer said since the program is so new there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Finance Director Shani Wittenberg delivered the April 2020 sales and use tax report to the council that showed decreases in sales tax collections during the month of April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wittenberg said although collections were down for the month of April, the city’s overall budget variance is still above projections, indicating that though effects from COVID-19 have been felt, the city’s finances remain strong.
PUBLIC INFORMATION REPORT
Grand Coordinator Kendall Cramer reported that the city learned this week that a grant applied for back in February was approved for $600,000 to help build the new Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club.
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said he had a meeting with organizers of the local Black Lives Matter Montrose, BLMM, stating the meeting was successful and another meeting was planned. Hall said the Police Department and the BLM group set some goals to work towards in the realm of community policing.
Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler said the city’s Office of Business and Tourism, OBT, has been working to create a number of community events for the annual Fourth of July celebration. Although the traditional Fourth of July community fireworks display was canceled due to COVID-19, the city is working to find fun ways for people to get out and celebrate the holiday safely.
Morgenthaler said an “anti-social ice cream social” is being planned as a free red, white, and blue ice cream giveaway for local residents. Morgenthaler said a number of other community promotions and events are being planned and that more detailed information will be released in the coming days.
In the final moments of Tuesday’s meeting, City Councilor Dave Frank said he participated in a live demonstration of the Police Department’s new body-worn cameras this week. He said more information about body cameras should be communicated to the public. City staff has begun creating an informational video about the new body cameras.
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 the 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.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.