Lamar City Council Wraps Up 2021 with Final Meeting of the Year

Municipal Offices in Lamar

 

 

City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea, provided a rundown for the Lamar City Council during its December 13th meeting, on some of the grants received by the city for a variety of municipal projects, totaling $7.1 million during their lifespans.  Among those listed was $2.9 in total for the city’s water/wastewater improvement projects that have spanned several years, the City’s Main Street Revitalization Plan, various sidewalk improvements, some of which are still in progress, airport and taxiway improvements, GoCO and Inspire grants including new soccer fields at Escondido Park, playground equipment and a kayak building at North Gateway Ponds, a Brownsfield assessment grant application which will lay the groundwork for refurbishing the Main Street Café and several others.  “I’d like to be able to review these with the council for next year when we can prioritize them according to future funding for the city,” she explained.

The council conducted a public hearing for the adoption of the Supplemental Budget for the current year, ending, December 31, 2021 and approved Resolution No. 21-12-01 allowing for the appropriation of additional sums of money to defray expenses in excess of the earlier amounts that had been budgeted.

City Administrator, Rob Evans, provided information regarding upcoming events including the 57th annual Holiday Basketball Tournament at the Lamar Community Building, December 16-18.  The Winter season officially begins on Tuesday, December 21st and Lamar City Offices will be closed for the Christmas holiday on Friday December 24th, Monday, December 27th and Friday, December 31st.  Evans’s list included consideration of a city holiday for the observance of Juneteenth, celebrated several years following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1861, issued by President Abraham Lincoln.  Juneteenth recognizes the date the state of Texas officially declared an end to their practice of slavery and in the United States.  June 19th, 2022 will fall on a Sunday that year, so the council pondered the impact that would have on the current number of federal holidays.  The date is also sandwiched between Memorial Day and the 4th of July which are also federal and local holidays.  The council will explore the matter during a January meeting as well as determine future dates for council meetings with the public and a weekly coffee gathering with citizens and Evans.

Roger Stagner was re-appointed to the Arkansas River Power Authority Board of Directors to serve the interests of the City of Lamar for a four-year term, ending in 2025.  The city’s Victims Assistance and Law Enforcement Board received $16,666 following an earlier grant application.  The annual agreement between Lamar High School and the Lamar Police Department for security services was continued for 2022.  SECOM was contracted to provide a static IP address for the annex building of the Police Department in order to access the law enforcement security base.  The fee is $9.95 per month.  The department announced it had received $25,695 through the Body-Worn Camera grant which will upgrade the storage capacity for camera videos.  The council also approved an agreement for extra-territorial sewer service for a family located on CR HH.5.  Their tap will tie in to a gravity feed line west of Maple and 13th Streets.

The city is moving forward with its project for the Lamar Compensation Study and Analysis.  Bid requests for a consulting firm had been issued this past October and Administrator Rob Evans announced Graves HR Consulting has been selected.  Laurie Graves from the firm attended the meeting via Zoom on Monday, December 13th.  The firm will assist the city council in its review of the employee’s salary structure.  “We now have 168 full time employees,” Administrator Evans said, while Mayor Kirk Crespin added that during the summer, that number grows to about 200 due to seasonal requirements.  Graves will conduct a statewide analysis of salaries for similar positions in communities that have close to the same population base as Lamar.  Those figures will provide the council with guidelines to determine if the city’s employees are on a par with other municipalities and make recommended adjustments.  A similar survey was conducted about 10 years ago.

The council noted the 2022 budget included $7,500 in funding for the employee wellness program.  Martha Alvarez, a member of the city’s Wellness Committee, explained the funding will maintain a series of health-oriented programs and screening fairs which would be conducted by Prowers Medical Center, perhaps at a municipal location which would make it more accessible for the employees to attend.

The council approved an agreement with the Colorado Department of Human Services to participate in a new federal funded program for a Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program similar in scope to LEAP which provides financial assistance to low-income families in meeting their heating bills.  The new program provides financial aid to help residents meet water costs.  However, as City Clerk, Linda Williams detailed, the state in Lamar’s case, will cover all their utilities, beyond water.  “Because our billing for utilities includes electricity, water, sewer and trash removal, all of that will be paid for in this program.  Councilman Bellomy asked how that would apply to heat costs, if a home were heated by electricity instead of natural gas, would that be covered as well?  Williams said it would, adding that the costs are being passed through the city and will be handled through the state.

The council, during a special meeting in executive session on December 2nd, retained the services of the law firm, Nathan Dumm Mayer for legal advice on specific legal questions regarding the ballot issues on the November 2021 election under C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(b).

The council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters with the City Administrator under C.R.S. 24-6-402(4)(f).

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesElectionsFeaturedLaw EnforcementPublic SafetyRecreationTourismUtilitiesWater

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