Two issues came before the Lamar City Council during the portion of the meeting which allows comments from the public on matters not listed on the agenda.
Ed Jones, farmer/rancher, who lives in the county, asked the council about the pricing for building permits issued by the city and the impact that has on the county. He stated, “The present fee structure is almost twice that of Denver for what we were charged for a recent building permit. The city charged $12,000 and the same monetary construction costs in Denver would have been $5,600.” Jones said he believes the current fee structure hinders business expansion and development with a 1% fee levied on new construction or expansion of current buildings. Jones said, “Permits should not be used as a revenue stream. The fees should be minimum and be used to make sure the building and construction is bringing plans before the city to make sure building codes are being met. Engineers and inspectors should be in a helping mode instead of an enforcement mode. Those positions have a public perception of putting up hoops and hurdles.” He added that the city and county will help the community with revised fee structures and should use them as a property guide for construction instead of generating revenue for the city. Mayor Roger Stagner thanked Jones for his appearance before the council and said, “We probably need to sit down and look at them (fees). We need to see where they’re at and what’s being charged.” He asked City Administrator John Sutherland to review the fees in comparison to other communities and set a time for a discussion with the council.
When asked about a specific instance of fees by councilman Kirk Crespin, Jones said they were for grain bins and added, “Those are county commodities going into those grain bins. There’s really nothing to engineer on a grain bin. There’s foundation and concrete work and some stuff, but somewhere we’ve lost some common sense because the engineering on those has been done over a 100 years ago. So I’m not really sure just what the permit fee was for.” He said he received a 20% discount on the fee which reduced the cost to $9,000. Crespin asked if a breakdown on the bill was available to determine just what the costs were for. He explained that pass through costs might be a part of the bill, but wanted a clear overall picture.
Brian Nunnery, Lamar businessman, expressed concern over the ownership of three bridges which lie east of Lamar. He stated that local farmers had donated the land to the city to help establish flood control on the properties. He said the bridges haven’t been worked on since 1992 and are in dire need for some construction and wanted to know what can be done about this. City Attorney Garth Neischburg explained that the bridges are not within the city limits and Prowers County stated they weren’t going to maintain them anymore and they passed through to the city by default from the state. Nunnery claimed that once the city took possession, they haven’t performed any maintenance that he’s seen. He asked if the city would honor the contract after the local farmers donated the land to establish flood control for that area outside of Lamar. Nunnery said some past drainage has improved water flow amounts, but he still had concerns on the bridges themselves. He said he’d bring in documentation to back up his statements. (Editor’s Note: This portion of the article is under revision for corrections)
The council approved a resolution which will allow a lawsuit to be set against the pool firm which was contracted by the city to coat the Lamar Municipal Pool and restore a finish which would protect the quartz aggregate finish. Western Pacific Coatings, Inc. provided a five year unconditional warranty on all labor and materials according to the city when the project was done in 2013. However the city claims the coating has not been suitable which resulted in surface cracking and peeling. City Attorney Garth Neischburg said the firm has not responded to requests to honor the agreement and is now bringing suit against the firm. The city demanded in April 2015 that the warranty be honored. Neischburg said he was willing to settle for a payment of $32,700 based on some restorative work the company had done, but in light of their lack of cooperation, he is filing for a full $50,000 payment in district court.
In an annual housekeeping move, the city council designated a list of places at which to post notices of council meetings as required by the Colorado Open Meetings Law. There are almost two dozen listings available to the public including the hallway entrance between the City Complex and Library, the Recreation Department, Lamar Light and Power on North 2nd Street, Chamber of Commerce, PEP offices and the media: Lamar Ledger, Prowers Journal, Pueblo Chieftain and KLMR and KVAY radio.
The VALE (Victim’s Assistance and Law Enforcement) Grant for 2017 of $12,806 was accepted by the council. The funds will be used to provide “Victim Rights Act” notification. According to Kyle Miller, Lamar Police Chief, this was the full amount requested in the application and will be paid out in four quarterly installments.
The council approved an agreement between the city and Wex Bank for continued fuel card services for city employees.
City Administrator, Sutherland, reminded the council of several future events of note including a CDOT open house to update the public about a pre-construction update on the Main Street/Highway 287 Renovation Project. That will be held Thursday, January 19th at 6:30pm at the Cultural Events Center. The Lamar Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and banquet will be held on Wednesday, January 25th at the Lamar Eagles Lodge with a 6:30pm meet and greet.
By Russ Baldwin
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