Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for their regular meeting Tuesday evening, August 18, to consider an appointment to the city’s Planning Commission, a Montrose Bucks funding request, a liquor license request, and hear the latest budget and tax collection reports. Councilors and staff met in Council Chambers at 107 South Cascade while maintaining COVID-19 social distancing protocols. The public was invited to attend via the Zoom platform.
Councilors Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met in chambers with councilor Roy Anderson attending via Zoom. The council met for one hour, 2 minutes along with city staff. The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
19th Amendment Day Proclamation:
Mayor Barbara Bynum read a proclamation recognizing the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
"The United States celebrates on August 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," Bynum said.
Bynum also recognized the League of Women Voters founding in 1920 with a goal of helping 20 million women pursue the right to vote.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Councilors voted unanimously to approve the minutes of the August 4, 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.
PLANNING COMMISSION APPOINTMENT
City Councilors voted unanimously to appoint Phoebe Benziger to the city’s Planning Commission. Earlier this summer the city sought applications for the vacancy and only received one, Benziger’s.
MONTROSE BUCKS PROGRAM FUNDING
City Councilors voted unanimously to approve an additional $10,000 for the 2020 Montrose Bucks Program. Earlier this year the city implemented a new digital Montrose Bucks gift card system to replace the paper checks that had created some problems for local vendors and customers. The new program allows the Office of Business and Tourism (OBT), the city department that stewards the program, to issue a gift card that works just like a debit/credit card and makes sales and tracking simple, according to Chelsea Rosty, the city’s Director of Business Innovation.
Rosty said the additional $10,000 would be used between now and the end of December to help locals and generate support for local businesses. In total the council has committed $25,000 to the Montrose Bucks program in 2020, which will generate an estimated $150,000 in local spending by the end of the year.
HOTEL AND RESTAURANT LIQUOR LICENSE APPLICATION
City Councilors voted unanimously to approve a liquor license for Tacos and Beer Montrose, operating at 3410 Williams Drive in Montrose. The owners of Tacos and Beer also hold a liquor license for Viva Mexico located on the east end of Main Street. City attorney Stephen Alcorn praised the owners for their continued work to prevent the service of underage patrons. Alcorn highlighted that in eight years of holding a liquor license the owners of Viva Mexico have not had one violation of their license. The owners will be doing business at their second location as Tacos and Beer Montrose LLC.
City Councilors voted unanimously to approve a new 20-year franchise agreement with the Delta-Montrose Electric Association. Voters will need to provide the final approval of the agreement on the ballot this fall, a process that results from the expiration of the current franchise agreement with DMEA in early 2021. DMEA is the sole provider of electricity to the Montrose community.
Councilors unanimously approved an Intergovernmental Agreement, or IGA, between the city and Montrose County concerning the November election and a municipal question that will appear on the ballot. Last month the council approved language for the November 3 election regarding a new franchise agreement with the Delta-Montrose Electric Association, DMEA, to continue providing electrical service to the community.
ENGLISH GARDENS 4 SUBDIVISION FILING #5 FINAL PLAT
Councilors unanimously approved a final plat containing 30 new residential lots in English Gardens, one of Montrose’s largest and best-known neighborhoods.
The plat fills in a large area of English Gardens that has sat undeveloped as the neighborhood has grown over the decades.
The plat, with a total size of 10.58 acres, is located north of Niagara Road, south of Sunnyside Road, west of 6700 Road, and east of Hillcrest Drive. Construction of Hickory Street and Ash Way, new roadways within the plat area, is in the final stages, with paving and the city’s acceptance of the new roads planned for early August 2020.
Sales, Use and Excise Tax Report:
City Finance Director Shani Wittenberg presented councilors with the June 2020 collection report. General Fund retail sales tax collected is up 5.8 percent over June 2019, yet in 2020 construction use tax is down about 69 percent compared to the same time in 2019. Use and auto use tax collected in June 2020 is up 22 percent and total collections for all categories combined are up 5 percent over June 2019, resulting in a positive budget variance of 7.6 percent.
In 2020 the city’s Public Safety Fund has collected $351,632 to help pay for the hiring of new police officers, new equipment, and the construction of a new Public Safety Complex to house the future operations of the Montrose Police Department.
June excise tax collection is down 20 percent overall for the year with hotel (lodging) collections down 46 percent and restaurant excise tax collections down about 12 percent.
Compared to 2019, hotel excise tax collections for June were down 36 percent and restaurant excise tax collections were down 8 percent. Total excise collection compared to June 2019 is down 13 percent, resulting in a negative budget variance of 10 percent.
Second Quarter Budget Review:
City Finance Director Shani Wittenberg presented councilors with a second-quarter budget review report. The report stated that in the General Fund, the city’s main operating fund, 52.3-percent of revenues have been collected and 57.3-percent of the budget has been expended. Sales and use taxes comprise more than 80 percent of the total revenue in the General Fund. Compared to the same time period in 2019, retail sales tax collections and total sales and use tax collections have increased 3.9-percent and 2.7-percent respectively.
Wittenberg reported the water fund has collected more this year due to the overall dryness, and people could be using more water as compared to 2019.
Public Information Report:
City Manager Bill Bell reported that city administrators and staff are continuing to work hard to help work through the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing to work with local business and civic partners to weather the storm. Bell said Montrose’s diversified economy has helped mitigate the impacts of the pandemic as compared to other municipalities of similar size in Colorado.
Bell said the city continues its conservative approach to budget and finances that has helped the city remain financially healthy during the unpredictable times of a global pandemic. Bell said the 2021 budget will reflect these conservative practices and invited anyone in the city who would like to offer input on the city budget to do so.
Bell said the annual budget is scrutinized line by line and will be available for public inspection soon. Additional budget information can be found at CityOfMontrose.org/budget.
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.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.