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Council’s Work Session Covers Park Vendors, Preliminary 2019 Budget

 

Municipal Offices in Lamar

 

The Lamar City Council held a work session Monday, August 6th to discuss the general direction for the approaching 2019 budget for the City of Lamar, and to discuss some of the pros and cons of having commercial vendors operate in the city’s parks.

While there were no concrete amounts mentioned, Treasurer Kristin McCrea speculated that the annual Charter Appropriations Adjustment the city receives from the Lamar Utilities Board should show a moderate increase, around $1.7M. Most of the budget points included capital improvements for some of Lamar’s infrastructure.

City Administrator, John Sutherland, pointed out the need for a fully functioning lift station to alleviate street water run-off along Main Street towards Maple, Sherman and Washington Streets which connect to North Main. The city is also planning to submit grants to the Department of Local Affairs, DoLA for work on two wells in the city’s well field.  A replacement roof is needed for the Lamar Community Building.  Some stop-gap work was done earlier this summer, but the problem, according to Sutherland, is that over the years, roofing materials have become water-absorbent. While some repairs have been made, there is still a problem with leaks to the rear and to the front of the building.  The City will also have to make a decision on the request for about $144,000 from Spreading Antlers Golf Course for needed maintenance equipment and the pressing question of ambulance funds will remain in the air until the November general election.  Prowers County is asking voters to approve a quarter percent sales tax needed to generate revenues to maintain ambulance services for the county.  Annual expenses approach $900,000, but the city and the county have to deal with a revenue shortfall each year.  Sutherland briefly addressed the salary levels for city employees, adding that adjustments are needed for those employees who are on the lower end of the pay scale and the council will be discussing solutions.  McCrea did note that sales tax revenues are ahead of projections for 2018.

The council will work to find a solution for vendors operating from city parks, with their attention primarily focused on the new skateboard facilities at Willow Creek Park. At present, one person has requested permission to sell skateboards and related equipment from his vehicle at the skateboard site.  Sutherland said, “It seems like a simple question, but if you stop to think about it for a minute, you’ll realize this opens up a huge Pandora’s Box of questions.  Where do we stop, how many vendors do we allow in the park?” Sutherland said he’s not opposed to the idea, but he was concerned about how the city could develop management policies to keep the situation under control.

When the Park Was Just a Plan

He expressed concern about safety issues along the park roadway with vendors set up for sales, and how many could be allowed along the route, to the possible exclusion of others. He said the option to park out by the street, offered to the current vendor by Linda Williams, City Clerk, seems like a good one, which is currently allowed.  The park has vendors, but only for seasonal events such as the Wild West BBQ or Lamar Days when fees are paid to a third party such as the Lamar Chamber of Commerce.

Williams explained that the vendor was initially told he couldn’t operate adjacent to Wheels Park as the city didn’t normally allow vendors on city property such as the ball parks. They are allowed to pull up on the street and make their sales from that point, but not directly on city property.  Sutherland noted the city annually opens bids or Requests for Proposals from vendors who are licensed to operate concession stands and that might be a consideration on the council’s part.  Until a permanent solution is developed, street side parking will be allowed, however, vendors will still be allowed in the park during events.  The council suggested that other, similar commercial businesses should be kept up to date on developments.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEconomyFeaturedPublic SafetyRecreationSportsYouth

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