City Council meeting held, Farish announced as new City Attorney

MONTE VISTA — The Monte Vista City Council held a meeting on Thursday, June 2. Chelsea Martinez, co-manager of the Monte Vista Farmer’s Market, spoke at the meeting.

Martinez asked the council for permission to use the Fassett parking lot on Fridays, for the Farmer’s Market from July 8 to Sept. 16, for the hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A unanimous motion was passed in agreement for the Farmer’s Market.

Kyle Logan, owner of Logan and Associates, the independent financial auditor for the city, also spoke at the meeting.

Logan gave his opinion and findings on the city’s independent audit for 2021. Logan explained that after combing through the city’s records thoroughly for the year, it was then his job to give an independent opinion on what the city has done for the year financially.

“The city has received an unmodified opinion, in laymen’s terms this is a clean opinion,” Logan said. “This is the best that the city can receive from an independent audit. What that tells you as the city council is that all the numbers in this document, and all the footnote disclosers in this document, are fairly stated and materially correct in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for a local government entity. So again, that is the best that you can receive.”

Logan explained the financial statements that were included in the year-end report for the city. Logan explained how the statements give a snapshot of the year, with all the liabilities, expenses and assets of the city.

“For Dec. 31, 2021, your total assets were $31.5 million, that’s about an $8.8 million increase from 2020,” Logan said. “The majority of this is in the Ski Hi Complex. The next section is your liabilities. Your total liabilities are at about $8.4 million, this is about a $2.8 million increase over last year. A significant part of that is your accounts payable, about $757,000.”

Logan explained that this part was related to the Ski Hi Complex as well.

“The biggest part of your liabilities is your long-term debt, and that’s about $6.9 million,” Logan said. “We had a net increase of about $1.6 million over last year. The biggest part of that increase is that $2.5 million loan, the lease purchase agreement that was taken out, that was related to the Ski Hi Complex, so that will be paid down, which the city is basically receiving a donation each year to make the payment, so that’s nice. We then get down to the net position or net worth of the city, for all the governmental activities and business type activities, you are at about $22.8 million, that’s about $5.4 million, or a 31 percent increase over last year. To get an idea of how much we have in operations, your governmental activities could operate ten months. That means if for whatever reason the revenue stream dried up the city could sustain for 10 months, if the city’s expenses stayed the same. Your water and sewer activities, you actually have one year of operations in that, so that’s pretty good. Your expenses were about $3.9 million, which is very comparable to 2020. With 2020 being a COVID year, and 2021 finishing up with that, you guys have watched your spending and that’s good. We end up with a net income of governmental activities of $5.3 million, which increased your net position by 46 percent. This is your information if you were operating like a business.”

Logan gave a complete breakdown of accounting expenses to the city council, and upon completion said to the city council that all procedures and policies had been completed by the city and followed in accordance with the city and their financial rules, for their financial assets and liabilities.

“What this means is, you have policies and procedures in place that allow for good, sound, financial reporting,” Logan said.

Logan finished by thanking the city council, the staff of the city, and City Manager Gigi Dennis.  A motion was then put into place unanimously accepting the 2021 audit.

At the same meeting, Dennis also spoke to the council regarding a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Committee.

“It has been recommended that you place some sort of moratorium on the murals that are being painted around town,” Dennis said. “They are recommending a 6-month moratorium.”

Dennis explained that the committee believes that they need to investigate the murals, as to whether they are appropriate for expressing one’s speech and for the city.

Dennis recommended that the council look at a shorter time frame. Dennis said that she wished to go through with the current murals that are planned and are currently taking place, which includes one that is currently being painted behind the Fassett Building.

Dennis also explained that the reason for the moratorium was not due to the committee trying to be difficult, but due to the committee wanting to put some parameters on what is being done, so that not just anything can be painted anywhere.

Newly appointed City Attorney Eugene Farish expressed the same concerns and said that the committee was looking at parameters for the murals, so that there was nothing that was put up that could potentially be unconstitutional like something political.

“Where do we draw the line? The last thing we want is constitutional challenges,” Farish said.

Farish recommended a 3-month moratorium, as the weather could change quickly, and then it would be harder to paint the murals with cold weather in place.

Councilwoman Martha Lock spoke at the meeting, expressing how she believes that the murals are a beautiful addition to the town of Monte Vista, and with so much negativity that has taken place in Monte Vista she believes the murals are a very positive addition.

“I agree there should be some guidelines, but I think that we are making this harder than it needs to be,” Lock said. “We don’t need to wait three months or even two months. I believe by the next meeting we could agree on what we want and what we don’t want. We have some people who are getting happy and giving pride to their community. When we raise community pride, we raise economic growth. As a voice of one of five, I don’t want to see a moratorium at all. I would rather see a list of guidelines. We have something great that is making people happy. Let’s deal with a different fish, I don’t think the mural is a fish we need to fry right now. It’s a good thing and a happy thing.”

Lock recommended looking at possibly improving signs around town instead.

Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala also spoke at the meeting and talked about how there is graffiti and negative things that are painted around town without any type of permission, and he believes the murals are a great addition to the city as well.

“It’s nice to look around and see positive things,” Sigala said. “Why not make improvements instead on some of the buildings in town that need painted, that have not been painted in years. Maybe we can address these buildings, instead of the murals. This has been something I personally have wanted to recommend for a few years now. It’s a good thing for our town and the citizens in our town.”

Councilman Larry Foster also said that he thinks the murals are a good thing for the town.

“I agree that we need a formalized process and that we probably need some guidelines,” Foster said. “I don’t see that we need to totally stop this in its tracks, because we are not talking about a huge number here.”

Dennis explained that the murals are expensive and explained that there is an investment in the murals.

Mayor Dale Becker asked Farish if it was OK to just roll with what they are doing right now with the murals, and work on procedures.

Farish said that he thought that was a good idea, but he wanted to find a way to maintain that the murals be constitutional, and he also thought it was a good idea for the Planning and Zoning Committee to work on procedures in the meantime.

A motion was passed not to have a moratorium in place, but to put together some guidelines on the murals within a 30-day time period.

City of Monte Vista Public Works Director Rob Vance spoke at the meeting about water restrictions. Vance asked the council to approve Level One water restrictions which limit residents with even-numbered addresses to water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and odd-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and all parties may water on Sundays. The restrictions would be from June 2 to Oct. 16. The council unanimously approved the restrictions.

City Manager Dennis also announced Farish as the new City Attorney. His contract would be for two years. Dennis said that Farish’s pay would be a flat $40,000 a year, but Farish requested the city move his pay to $48,000 a year. Both Mayor Pro Tem Sigala and Mayor Becker, requested that a possible future review be done.

The next city council meeting will be held June 17.

Video News