City council recognizes employees
MONTE VISTA- Monte Vista City Council met for their first meeting of August last Thursday and began the meeting on a very positive note. After passing the consent agenda, City Manager Forrest Neuerburg completed the swearing in of Interim Police Chief Eduardo Rodriguez, who was thanked by council and pinned by one of his officers as well as his wife. Several members of the Monte Vista Police Department attended to show their support and appreciation for Rodriguez’s leadership.
The council then recognized Bob Abeyta and the public works utility staff for receiving a Silver Safety Award from the Joint Committee of American Water Works Association and the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association. The award was given to Monte Vista for “Outstanding Commitment to Safety as shown in the demonstrated efforts in protecting the safety and health of employees and performance achievement in 2016.”Mayor Debbie Garcia thanked the department on behalf of council for their dedication, as did Public Works Director Rob Vance, “This crew works exceptionally hard…they do an excellent job for us.”
Council also presented a certificate of appreciation to several employees for their first year of service to the city. Recognized were Community Outreach Assistant Azarel Madrigal, Utility Billing Clerk Christy Fletcher, HR Director Courtney Baker, as well as Kara Bentley, youth program coordinator and Chris Ruybal, shop coordinator.
Following up on their proclamation at the July 20 meeting, council presented a signed copy of the declaration of National Health Center Week for Aug. 13-19 to Valley-Wide Health Systems.
Kids Connection Director Anika Velasquez also requested council recognize and appreciate the efforts of two of her summer staff, Nicholas DuPont and Kaitlynn Porter. Porter and DuPont are high school students, but Velasquez praised their maturity and organization, noting she hopes they consider returning as staff again, calling them “outstanding” and noting they took charge of their job duties and “knew exactly what to do.”
Recreation Director Jaime Hurtado was not present, but Kim Vialpando with the recreation department presented a request from the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee requesting a discount on the use of the outdoor facilities for their first concert accompanying the Potato Festival at Ski-Hi on Saturday, Sept. 9. CPAC’s request noted the investment on their part for the festival is already $35,000 and they hope the concert and other events will make a substantial contribution to the city. Council agreed CPAC contributes a lot to the community and unanimously approved a 40 percent discount on the facilities usage fees.
Contracts, agreements and leases
Vance presented council with options for two major pieces of public works equipment, their flatbed truck and the street sweeper. The city’s current flatbed, a 1980 model, has fallen apart due to years of use, noticed during the alley clean up this spring. Vance explained he luckily found a model which should work for sale from CDOT for only $1,500. After removing the vital parts off of the old truck to make the flatbed function on the new one, the old one can be sold to Colorado Recycling.
The larger problem discussed was the expenses involved in repairing the street sweeper. Vance presented an estimate to fix the 2011 Elgin Mega Wind Sweeper of $36,000. “There are three options,” Vance explained. “One, you can do nothing,” explaining the previous model of street sweeper was brought back to operational status before Stampede, but the main air assembly is weak, the fan assembly is falling apart, and its resale value is only roughly $5,000, so he doesn’t expect much more functional life out of that machine. The second option Vance suggested is trading in the Mega Wind, but its as-is resale value is only about $50,000 whereas it would be between $60,000 and $75,000 with the repairs completed. The third option would be to repair the Mega Wind and sell it at a later time, putting that money toward a new sweeper. Garcia asked how much time could be expected out of the Mega Wind after repairing it, which Vance confirmed was likely between five and six years. New sweeper costs were discussed at length by council members; one demo model discussed is a year old and would be roughly $125,000 if it is still available for purchase in November after its demo period in another area, and a brand new machine is roughly $197,000.
Councilor Carol Schroeder asked “What kind of money do we have in the capital improvement fund?” Schroeder noted in earlier budget discussions council had decided to cap the fund at $75,000, and $23,000 had already been spent on asphalt for street repairs. Vance noted these repairs would take a large amount out of the street repair budget, leaving them only enough to do some minor repairs as needed, “Everything is band-aids right now.” Vance acknowledged council’s frustrations at the machine being purchased only seven years ago for a return of $75,000, adding “There is no good option;” encouraging council to decide what they believed “does the least damage to the city to put us back in business.” Councilor Jason Lorenz suggested Vance analyze lightening the loads on the street sweepers to get the most use out of the machines, potentially exploring cleaning fewer days a week. Council regretfully approved the repairs for $35,664.17 on the condition that Vance explore options for lightening the workload for the machines in the future.
Neuerburg also announced he is currently exploring the option of expanding Madrigal’s hours to a full-time position through the Best and Brightest Internship position recently vacated by CJ Clayton. Clayton’s position was funded through an agreement with DOLA for EIAF (Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund) under the Best and Brightest Program. As Madrigal is also a master’s student at Adams State University, DOLA might be able to approve the funds for her position through 2018. “This is a valuable employee we can preserve,” Neuerburg added, with council approving submitting the request.
Neuerburg, in his city manager report, informed council of Boutique Air’s plan to use the Monte Vista Airport during the week of Aug. 21 due to repairs on the Alamosa runways. Boutique is also exploring the possibility of later using the airport for 38 days. Neuerburg expressed interest in the possibility of marketing Monte Vista at the airport as well as the different businesses in town, and the commercial airline’s use of the facilities will make it more marketable for potential future expansions and Unmanned Aircraft companies.
Answering previous discussions, Neuerburg has followed up with Oakwood Energy, who is still actively interested in bringing the city of Monte Vista into their solar garden array. Neuerburg announced another company has been working to accomplish the same thing, and there will be two competing bids soon. He also followed up with Xcel Energy regarding the possibility of the city putting solar panels on their facilities, but Xcel is not currently offering any programs that would accomplish that. According to Neuerburg’s report, “As far as a city solar garden, Xcel currently does not have a program that would provide for what we are looking at there. They do have a program for green energy, but essentially you pay a premium above the regular billing cost to obtain green energy. So, this clearly would not be a cost-savings measure. On a project-specific basis, say the construction or remodel of an existing building, Xcel can provide technical assistance in making the building itself energy efficient, and solar panels can be part of that equation. I have set a meeting with Xcel for later in August on this aspect of their program.”
Velasquez gave the report for the Kids Connection, announcing that Wednesday, Aug. 9 (today) is the last day of their summer program. They will be closed until beginning their after-school program again on Aug. 21. One hundred and seventy-one children were signed up as members during the summer. Velasquez also discussed the successes of the pancake breakfast Saturday, July 29, telling council 112 community members were served, but as their first customer did not arrive until shortly after 7 a.m., they would not be arriving to prepare at 4:30 a.m. again next year. Velasquez also recognized the importance of the Care and Share program for the Kids Connection, pointing out they have distribute 148,000 individual milk cartons and over nine tons of food so far so children can have a healthy lunch or snack.
Vialpando again gave Hurtado’s report, noting the registration deadlines for pee-wee cheerleading, football and volleyball have been extended until today, but the football teams will be restricted to one team for fifth and sixth graders and two for third and fourth graders due to equipment needs. There are only men registered so far for the adult softball league, and adult volleyball on the weekends will be beginning soon as well.