Montrose, CO — City Councilors met for a work session Tuesday morning, July 18, to meet five new employees and hear updates and overviews of upcoming city projects.
Councilors Barbara Bynum, David Reed, and Ed Ulibarri met in City Council Chambers along with city staff. Councilor Dave Frank joined via the Zoom platform while Doug Glaspell was absent.
The following is a summary of the primary topics discussed during the meeting.
Watch the meeting here.
INTRODUCTION OF NEW CITY EMPLOYEES
City Councilors met five new employees during Monday’s work session. Chris Worton was hired as a customer service / civilian report-taking technician. Alison Dahl joined the city as a GIS analyst, and Chris Ottinger, Josh Hoskins, and Will Phillips all joined Public Works as utility workers.
METSA DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY ORDINANCE
City Councilors were briefed on an amended intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, with the Montrose Emergency Telephone Service Authority, METSA, to continue offering emergency telephone service for the City of Montrose, which is a member of the METSA board.
City Attorney Ben Morris provided the council with an annual ordinance to set the rate for METSA. The rate is charged on monthly telephone bills and provided to METSA to fund the local emergency phone service provided by WESTCO Dispatch, the local 911 provider.
The rate increase in 2022 will take into account inflation.
The City Council will vote on the amended agreement at a future regular meeting.
OPIOID SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
City Attorney Ben Morris provided the council with a brief overview of the key provisions outlined in the Colorado Opioids Settlement Memorandum of Understanding (Colorado MOU). The Colorado MOU was signed by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on August 26, 2021. Strong participation by local governments signing on to the Colorado MOU is needed to receive the full settlement payments for all of Colorado.
Local governments and the state prepared the Colorado MOU, which prioritizes regionalism, collaboration, and abatement in the sharing and distribution of opioid settlement funds.
While Colorado’s local governments are currently being asked to participate in recent settlements with the “Big 3” Distributors (AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson) and Johnson & Johnson, the Colorado MOU is intended to apply to all current and future opioid settlements.
Allocation of Settlement Funds
The Colorado MOU provides the framework for fairly dividing and sharing settlement proceeds among the state and local governments in Colorado. Under the Colorado MOU, settlement proceeds will be distributed as follows:
1. 10% directly to the state (State Share)
2. 20% directly to participating local governments (LG Share)
3. 60% directly to regions (Regional Share)
4. 10% to specific abatement infrastructure projects (Statewide Infrastructure Share)
Under the Colorado MOU, all settlement funds must be used only for “approved purposes,” a long and broad list that focuses on abatement strategies. These strategies emphasize prevention, treatment, and harm reduction. Some examples of these strategies include training health care providers on opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and responsible prescribing, expanding telehealth and mobile services for treatment, and increasing naloxone and rescue breathing supplies. The list of approved purposes is broad enough to be flexible for local communities while ensuring that settlement funds are used to combat the opioid epidemic.
General Abatement Fund
A General Abatement Fund Council (the “Abatement Council”), consisting of representatives appointed by the state and participating local governments, will ensure that the distribution of opioid funds complies with the terms of any settlement and the terms of the Colorado MOU. The Abatement Council will consist of 13 members, seven appointed by the state and six appointed by the participating local governments.
Local Government Share (20%)
Twenty percent of settlement funds will be paid directly to participating local governments.
Regional Share (60%)
Sixty percent of settlement funds will be allocated to single- or multi-county regions made up of local governments. These regions were drawn by local governments to make use of existing local infrastructure and relationships.
State Share (10%)
Ten percent of settlement funds will be allocated directly to the state for statewide priorities in combating the opioid epidemic. The state maintains full discretion over the distribution of the State Share anywhere within the State of Colorado. On an annual basis, the state shall provide all data on expenditures from the State Share, including administrative costs, to the Abatement Council.
Statewide Infrastructure Share (10%)
Ten percent of the settlement funds will be allocated to a Statewide Infrastructure Share to promote capital improvements and provide operational assistance for the development or improvement of infrastructure necessary to abate the opioid crisis anywhere in Colorado.
Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses Paid Through a Back-Stop Fund
To a large extent, the national opioid settlements occurred because of the pressure that litigating entities and their counsel exerted on defendants through their lawsuits. The attorneys’ fee provision equitably allocates the cost of attorneys’ fees, while also allowing non-litigating entities to share in the 25% premium for releases by the litigating entities in the “Big 3” Distributor and Johnson & Johnson settlements. The work that was done by the litigating entities and their law firms in the litigation has substantially contributed to achieving the settlements that are currently being offered and those that are anticipated in the future.
Participation in the Colorado MOU and Expected Timeline
The MOU was designed to ensure that as many local governments as possible would agree to its terms. On August 26, 2021, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser signed the MOU. It is projected that settlement funds from the “Big 3” Distributor/Johnson & Johnson settlements could be made available as soon as July 2022 and will be distributed within Colorado according to the MOU.
According to Morris, the city could opt to put their allocation into a regional program rather than accepting a small amount each year. The council does not need to formally vote to approve the city’s decision about participating in the MOU.
THE HUB AT MONTROSE CROSSING DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT DEADLINE EXTENSION
City Councilors were presented with a proposal to consider a 12-month extension to the agreement with 1890 Homestead, LLC to facilitate the development of 160 market-rate rental apartment units within the first phase of the Hub at Montrose Crossing.
City Manager Bill Bell said the c entered into a development agreement with 1890 Homestead, LLC on November 16, 2021.
The original development agreement included a deadline to obtain the project’s building permit by June 1, 2022, and complete the project by June 1, 2024. The City Manager’s Office extended the building permit deadline until July 1, 2022, to be responsive to the fast-changing construction market and staff schedules. 1890 Homestead has since requested a 12-month extension of the building permit and completion deadlines. The developer has indicated that rapidly rising interest rates have created unique challenges for the economics of the project and will require additional time to resolve. While a one-month extension was within the administrative and operations purview of the city manager, a 12-month extension is a more significant budgetary request and warrants City Council review.
The city’s 2022 budget included funding for the original development agreement. If extended, this could be considered in the 2023 budget with portions of the project potentially being covered through federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds if the timing allows.
TOWNSEND AVENUE INTERSECTION CAPACITY STUDIES PROJECT OVERVIEW
City Councilors were presented with an overview of a project to perform traffic studies needed to develop short and long-term improvement plans for intersections on Townsend Avenue.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said the project will focus on Townsend Avenue intersections at Main Street, South 5th Street, East Oak Grove Road, and Ogden Road.
The point of the study is to evaluate the current traffic flow and performance at these intersections to determine how to make both short and long-term improvements to increase traffic efficiencies and pedestrian safety.
Murphy said the city is poised to hire Turnkey Consulting of Mesa, Colorado, to perform the work.
The study is projected to be completed by the end of 2022.
WATER RESOURCE INVENTORY AND MASTER PLANNING PROJECT
City Councilors were presented with an outline of the city’s proposed Water Resource Inventory and Master Plan Project and a summary of proposals received to perform the work. City staff are in the process of evaluating these proposals through a qualifications-based selection process and will bring a contract recommendation to a future council meeting.
City Engineer Scott Murphy said that, thanks to the work of our predecessors, the City of Montrose’s water resource portfolio is secure and has room to grow as the city is using less than 50% of its currently-available water resources. That being said, it is important that the city responsibly manage and utilize this precious resource for many generations to come; especially in the face of continued growth, prolonged drought, and aridification of the region. To that end, this project looks to accomplish the following goals:
1. Prepare an inventory/master plan report that can be used to educate city staff/management, City Council, and the public regarding the city’s water resources and their management. This will also prove useful for succession planning within city departments involved with water.
2. Utilize the inventory/master plan findings and report to facilitate and guide responsible development, effective land-use regulations related to water, practical water conservation programs, efficient city water operations, and capital improvements to reduce consumptive water use.
3. Understand if the city’s existing water resources are enough to cover the anticipated urban buildout within the city’s service area boundary. Based on these data, the project will identify the amount of conservation or water resource expansion that would be required to fully develop the city’s service area. The city also receives requests for the expansion of our service area from time to time and growth projections will help to determine if these requests should be entertained.
4. Understand risks to the city’s water supply due to prolonged drought, a Colorado River compact call, local calls within the Uncompahgre watershed, climate change, and/or watershed damages (wildfire, spills, etc).
5. Develop Montrose as a local leader in responsible water resource management and ultimately serve as a resource to other communities looking to do the same.
As is typical of other city master planning efforts, this project will include various types of citizen outreach and engagement to understand and incorporate our community’s desires as they relate to water resource management and conservation.
This planning effort is scheduled to extend into the third quarter of 2023. Originally the project was envisioned to be completed in 2022; however, the present workload and availability of both city staff and consultants have extended the project timeline. The initial 2022 project efforts will focus on answering questions regarding water demand projections and potential expansion of the city’s water service area. Expansion requests are becoming more frequent due to continued development interest along the edges of the city’s current water service area.
VICTIM ASSISTANCE LAW ENFORCEMENT (VALE) GRANT RESOLUTION
Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall updated councilors on an annual grant application for the Victims Assistance Law Enforcement program the department uses to fund one-half of the salary of the department's victim advocate.
Victim advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime by offering information, emotional support, help in finding resources and filling out paperwork, and sometimes accompanying them in court.
Chief Hall said the department's advocate, Chantelle Bainbridge, is an invaluable resource for the community, and this grant is a routine funding resource to help pay for her services.
Bainbridge said in the first six months of 2022 the department has seen a 91% increase in sexual assault investigations over 2021 and a 41% increase in domestic assaults. Bainbridge said her overall on-scene response has also increased dramatically over the past year.
Councilors will vote on a resolution to apply for the grant at the August 2 regular meeting.
Public Works Manager Jim Scheid and Montrose Police Chief Blaine Hall said the new Public Safety Complex is nearing completion. Paving of South First Street in front of City Hall will begin this week. There are a couple of smaller items on the building that have been delayed due to supply chain shortages, according to Scheid
Scheid said the delays will push back the building’s grand opening to mid to late September, but this date could also change due to supply chain issues.
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 and on-demand through the city’s Public Meetings Portal.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.