MONTE VISTA — The Monte Vista City Council met on Thursday, July 1, with the goal of adding a new council member but they were not successful after the vote resulted in a tie. The opening was due to Councillor Gary Johnson stepping down in May.
While the council did not fill the seat, they did appoint MV Police Department Police Chief George Dingfelder as interim city manager. Current City Manager Forrest Neuerburg’s final day with the city is July 8. No explanation was given during the meeting as to why Neuerburg was stepping down.
Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala stated the motion that led to Dingfelder’s interim appointment.
“I would move to appoint Interim City Manager George Dingfelder to take over the City Manager operations during the time that Forrest is gone until we get somebody else in here,” Sigala said.
The motion was seconded by Councillor Martha Lock. The motion was unanimously passed, 4-0.
Prior to naming an interim city manager, Neuerburg guide the council through the process of appointing a new councilor. Each member of the council was handed a ballot.
The names of the council candidates on the ballots were not made public. Neuerburg only disclosed that the Rio Grande County Clerk had set up the ballots for the council. People wanting to fill the vacated seat applied with the City of Monte Vista.
The ballots were filled out by the council members, folded, and passed to the City Attorney Michael Trujillo, who verified and announced the results. Trujillo said two names on the ballot each received two votes.
After the declaration of the tie, Neuerburg told they could either seek to break the tie within that same night, or they could choose to hold further deliberations and address this at the next City Council meeting.
The council was also informed by the city manager that they had the choice of not appointing anybody and waiting for the seat to filled during the statewide general election in November, but this choice would require a motion from the council.
Mayor Dale Becker said, “We probably need to deliberate some more.”
The council agreed and a special executive session meeting was scheduled via Zoom for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, for the purpose of discussing the vacant council seat.
During the meeting on July 1, a presentation was made by resident Mariana King, again on the “danger of communication towers.”
King talked about the dangers of communication towers during public comment of a previous council meeting and requested to be placed on the agenda of a future meeting. King asked then for a citizens’ task force to be formed and did so again on Thursday.
After her public comments back in June on this topic, Neuerburg cited the 1996 Telecommuncations Act, and explained that the FCC sets guidelines for communication towers and the towers in Monte Vista meet FCC and city standards. A tower stands behind City Hall.
King provided copies of her presentation to city staff, council members and the Monte Vista Journal.
King said her presentation was based in part off Monte Vista's vision to keep people in a healthy and safe environment and thriving. She said there is credible evidence of towers negatively impacting people and wildlife.
“The many communication towers in Monte Vista, impact the quality of life and well-being of people in our community,” King said.
King also pointed out in her presentation that there are other things to consider that are allowed outside of the Telecommunications Act, including the negative effects that the towers may have on wildlife, the negative impact that the towers may have on local businesses, and on homeowner property values. The council did not form a task force.
In other matters, the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce gave an update on the Chamber, along with The Kids Connection department and the Monte Vista Recreation department.
Other citizen comments included the fence ordinance. The second reading of the ordinance was moved to July 15.
There was also a question regarding the Monte Vista Ski-Hi conference center and when it would be ready for events. Neuerburg said "that updates would be given as they became available." Construction is expected to be completed by fall of 2021.
The next Monte Vista City Council meeting will be held on July 15. Agendas are available for viewing at https://cityofmontevista.colorado.gov.