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COVID-19 Updates

Posted on: December 1, 2020

Blog: CITY COUNCIL WORK SESSION: Monday, November 30

Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Monday morning, November 30, to review two applications to the city’s Planning Commission, an intergovernmental agreement with the Montrose Recreation District, Coronavirus Relief funds, and an ordinance regarding a supplemental budget. 


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, City Councilors Roy Anderson, Dave Bowman, Barbara Bynum, Dave Frank, and Doug Glaspell met online along with city staff via the Zoom platform. The public was also invited to attend. The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting. 


Watch the meeting here.


PLANNING COMMISSION APPLICANT INTERVIEWS


City Councilors met with Phoebe Benziger and Jan Chastain, two applicants to the city’s Planning Commission. 


Members of the Planning Commission serve at the pleasure of the City Council and are appointed for four-year, overlapping terms. Both Benziger and Chastain currently serve on the commission and have reached the end of their terms and are reapplying to serve on the commission. Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler thanked them for their volunteer service to the community. 


Benziger said she has enjoyed serving on the commission, although the "learning curve is steep," and said she would appreciate the opportunity to serve for another term. 


Jan Chastain said her service has "been an amazing couple of years," building relationships within the city and the community. She also looks forward to serving the community with another term on the commission. 


"We are all really committed to the community of Montrose," Chastain said. 


Bynum said the council will formally vote on whether to appoint Benziger and Chastain to another term at the council’s regular meeting on December 15. 


More information about the city’s Planning Commission can be found here.



INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENT WITH MONTROSE RECREATION DISTRICT


City of Montrose Grant Coordinator Kendall Cramer said the city and the rec district have an intergovernmental agreement, IGA, to streamline services within the community. The IGA is approved annually "to meet the needs of both organizations and the public."


Under the new 2021 IGA, the city will take on responsibility for all weekday and weekend restroom cleaning at Cerise Fields. Trash and recycling services fees have been updated and a payment schedule and schedule of costs have been added to clarify how trash and recycling services are assessed.


City Councilors will formally decide whether to approve the IGA at their December 15 regular meeting. 


If approved, the IGA goes into effect on January 1, 2021. 


CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND ALLOCATION UPDATE


Cramer updated the council regarding the city's Coronavirus Relief Fund, CVRF, which handles federal funds handed down to the city to cover costs associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 


The City of Montrose approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Montrose County to apply to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ Coronavirus Relief Fund program in June 2020. The fund was established to distribute the state’s allocation of federal funds received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Per the MOU with Montrose County, the City of Montrose was allocated $1,100,419.83. These funds must be used to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency. All funds must be spent by December 30, 2020.


In a memo to the council Cramer explained that, to date, the City of Montrose has incurred approximately $826,361 in CARES Act expenses, which includes $456,869 in grants provided by the city through the COVID-19 Nonprofit and Child Care Assistance Program, direct distribution of $104,765 to the Montrose County School District RE-1J to assist with distance learning measures, and $264,727 in internal COVID-19-related expenses.


City staff established the COVID-19 Nonprofit and Child Care Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to local nonprofit organizations and child care providers to address unexpected expenses resulting from the COVID-19 emergency. Nonprofit and child care providers have utilized the funds for a variety of eligible COVID-19-related expenses including COVID-19 testing, improvements to accommodate COVID-19 patients, technology purchases and upgrades to safely serve clients or to telework, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitation supplies or services, reimbursement of meal delivery services for children and students, purchase of indoor and outdoor furniture to comply with social distancing regulations, and revenue loss reimbursement.


Internal expenses have included the purchase of laptop computers and software for teleworking and public meetings, PPE, COVID-19 communications, a contribution to the Montrose County Flu Shot Clinic, reimbursement of salaries for substantially dedicated staff, small business assistance relief efforts, processing fees for business assistance loans, and other eligible COVID-19 related expenses.


City staff anticipates utilizing approximately $89,000 in remaining funds for internal expenses including technology purchases, additional PPE and cleaning supplies, a grant match for the South 1st Street Plaza, and small business assistance efforts, such as teepee installation and furniture for outdoor dining. The remaining CARES Act dollars will be distributed to nonprofit and child care organizations that are eligible to receive additional funding through the city’s grant program. Most grant applications were not funded in full due to the uncertainty of knowing how many organizations would apply to the program. The program has funded 34 nonprofit or child care organizations.


Councilors and staff debated how to spend the remaining funds before the end of the year. The council debated spending the funds on the city's hotel and lodging industry, local restaurants, possibly by promoting an ongoing meal program or helping to make sure the downtown movie theater remains viable since the theater has been largely shut down since April. 


Earlier this year the city created a small business loan program to help local businesses cover costs associated with the economic downturn related to COVID-19. The city approved 23 loans throughout the city totaling about $177,000. 


More information about CARES Act funding will be released once it becomes available. 


SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET ORDINANCE 


City Councilors were briefed on proposed Ordinance 2519, which amends Ordinance 2490, passed in November 2019, that approved the city's budget for 2020. 


Each fall, the council reviews a supplemental budget if "additional appropriations are deemed necessary for the public health, peace or safety of the city’s residents."


City Finance Director Shani Wittenberg said 2020 was a unique year in that the annual supplemental budget will be larger than in recent years due to an influx of funding from the CARES Act. 


The city also acts as a pass-through for local grant funds. This year the city passed approximately $600,000 in grants to other local organizations. Most notable is the new roof for the Center for Mental Health's new walk-in crisis center and the new Columbine Middle School playground. The total in additional funding the city received through grants, CARES Act, and other special projects totaled $1,952,852. 


The original 2020 budget, approved in Ordinance 2490, was $35,875,943. The final budget estimated for the end of 2020 and proposed in Ordinance 2519 is $39,925,623 for a difference of $4,049,690. 


City Council will formally vote to approve or deny the supplemental budget on first reading at their Tuesday, December 1, 2020, regular meeting held at 6 p.m. 


STAFF COMMENTS


Assistant City Manager Ann Morgenthaler reported that although City Hall remains open for residents to pay their utility bills, most city staff are working remotely due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. Morgenthaler also said the city's Visitor Center has closed. 


For more information about city-related closures due to COVID-19, visit CityofMontrose.org/COVID19


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All City Council meetings are recorded and made available online via 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.


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