Lamar Council Begins Budget Work, Delays Airport Upgrades


City of Lamar 2013

Summertime means the Lamar City Council starts picking dates for budget deadlines.  A work session focusing on general guidance for the 2014 budget was held Monday, July 8.  Topics of discussion included: Revenue Projections, Taxation, Capital Investment, Performance based Salary Increases, Contingency Set-Aside and other Funding Priorities. 

City Clerk, Linda Williams, recapped the May Sales and Use Tax Collection Report which showed a 2.2% increase, May to May and a 2.45% increase for the city, year-to-date.  Collections for the year are at $1,740,916 which is up $41,700 over last year at this time. 

A four part construction and renovation project at the Lamar Airport is on hold, pending negotiations for a contractor.  Only one bid was received for the project which included airport apron rehabilitation, construction of a spill prevention basin and installation of new landing lights and it was 251% higher than the Engineering firm’s estimate at $1,730,271.  Despite negotiations with A & S Construction, the city decided that equitable terms could not be met for several phases of the project.  The city proposed to re-bid two of the four projects as stand-alone ventures to local concrete and electrical contractors.  Pat Mason, Director of Public Works told the council the aviation engineering firm, Jviation, will also conduct a cost analysis to see if concrete would be more economical than asphalt in light of the current price of materials. 

City Administrator John Sutherland recapped recent water sales for the city, comparing monthly revenues between 2011 and to-date sales for 2013.  Sutherland presented the council with a month by month breakdown on revenue and water use between 2011 and June, 2013.  He pointed out a jump for water used in June over the past three years with 77,496,476 for 2011, 73,181,470 for 2012 and last month at 88,704,801.  Correspondingly, the revenues also increased over those months with 2011 at $175,969, 2012 at $167,051 and last month at $198,679.  “What we’re seeing is probably the result of the new water metering system we’ve been installing around the city,” he explained.  Sutherland said there are 3,600 meters in Lamar and 1,000 have been replaced as of last month by Honeywell representatives, the firm that is upgrading some of the city’s HVAC and lighting and water metering systems.  Sutherland said the increase is the result of more accurate measurements in water use and he added, “The increase in finances is captured revenues from the more accurate readings.”    

The city council approved an annual request from the Lamarlins Swim Team to allow overnight camping in Willow Creek Park from July 26-28.  Christi Ludwig, President of the Lamarlins Swim Team, told the council the park is used to host visiting teams for the annual regional league swim meet.  Ludwig said teams from as far away as Canon City and Salida take part in the event and camp out to minimize their expenses during summer competition.  She added that only a handful of families decide to camp out to save on expenses while the majority of visitors opt to spend their weekend in local motels. 

The council dealt with a request for reducing the $305 carnival fee for Crabtree Amusements which will open in Lamar for the Sand and Sage Fair, August 6 – 11.  Cindi Bennet, representing the Sand and Sage Fair Board made the request, stipulating that despite requests from the carnival owners to eliminate the payment of sales tax on receipts, they will pay their fair measure.  The council voted to split the fee, charging the carnival $150 for their license. 

The council gave approval to a Facilities Use Agreement to the dance group, Denim and Lace for use of the Lamar Community Building for the 2013-2014 year.  The contract is identical to the previous one for $2,704 with only change of date included in the agreement. 

Deputy Lamar Fire Chief, Pat Leonard, detailed the tradition of discounting fees for ambulance stand-by services to the Sand and Sage Fair Board during this year’s rodeo events.  In the past, the council approved waiving the payment to the City of Lamar for $100 for the first three hours of the event, followed by $10 per hour after the initial three hours.  The Fair Board agreed to pay the EMS crew for their hourly service of $90 for the first three hours and $35 per hour afterwards.    The ambulance service bills the city directly for the waived fees.  The council voted to approve the request. 

The council appointed Sean Lirley to the Building Codes Variance Board for an unexpired five year term, ending October, 2016.  Lirley’s was the only application received after media advertising was conducted by the City of Lamar. 

A public hearing date was set for July 22 by the council for a request for modification of premises by the The Rodeway Cow Palace Inn in Lamar.  The motel operator is requesting permission to construct an area which will give customers a place to use tobacco products and will be located on the outside area of the motel. 

Lamar, Eads and La Junta was recently awarded $1,000 each to design a permanent public art project from the Colorado Creative Industries in conjunction with this year’s Pedal the Plains event.  The Southeast Colorado Arts Council matched the amount and area donations will be sought to make up the balance, expected to be around $5,000.  Each city will host the riders this September.  Shawna Hodge, Executive Director of Lamar Partnership, Incorporated, explained the nature of the project which is being constructed by members of the Southeast Colorado Arts Council, Local Artists and students from The HOPE Center and LHS Art Department.  She said the mural will be large, with one idea for it consisting of nine panels and measuring ten feet high and as much as 36 feet in length.   The mural would have a life span of about 10 years and would be maintained by arts council members.  Barbara Preskorn, who is helping coordinate the Lamar project, said the subject matter will be decided in part by a number of youths from Project HOPE and the high school art department.  Bi-Centennial Park was envisioned as the mural site, but the automatic sprinkling system has prompted a search for a more user-friendly location which will be publically visible.  Councilman Kirk Crespin suggested using the wind turbine blade at the Welcome Center as a backdrop for a mural which still allows visibility for the September bicycle riders and could be a more permanent fixture for the city.  The group will review their options and come to a decision as quickly as possible as they have only weeks to finalize an idea and construct the mural before September 20. 

The council adopted a resolution that clarifies the City of Lamar’s relationship with its volunteer firefighters.  The resolution declares that part time firefighters are considered volunteers.  The Colorado Legislature this past June enacted a bill regarding collective bargaining by firefighters in which the bill’s provisions apply only to a Public Employer that employs 24 or more firefighters.  The city has seven full time and 24 volunteer or part time firefighters.  The act defines a volunteer firefighter in Colorado as one who is not classified as an employee under FLSA, Fair Labor Standards Act.  Councilman Keith Nidey cast the lone, ‘no’  vote.  

City Council members devoted a portion of their March 13 retreat to develop and adopt a vision and mission statement for Lamar City Government.  Five key focus areas were also outlined, borrowing on the past planning retreats held by the council in 2006 and 2008.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, outlined all three areas during Monday’s meeting prior to the council’s vote to adopt the statements. 

Mission Statement – 2008: 

The Mission of the City of Lamar is to provide effective, courteous, efficient, high quality of public services and promote the health, safety and welfare of our residents, businesses and visitors in the most cost effective manner. 

The City of Lamar, crossroads of America, seeks to enrich the existing community by promoting economic development and opportunity.

The City of Lamar is a government that serves with honesty and integrity, while at all times conducting ourselves with the highest ethical standards to maintain public confidence and strives to treat all citizens and employees with fairness, dignity and respect. 

Vision Statement – 2006: 

The City of Lamar is a municipality dedicated to preserving the City’s friendly, hometown atmosphere and providing a high quality of life for our citizens. 

We aim to be a growing community that is beautiful, clean, and safe and we strive to expand the City’s infrastructure to support existing and future developments. 

We will achieve our vision through responsible leadership, a healthy economy and extensive recreational and cultural opportunities. 

The Five Key Long-Term Focus Areas: 

Economic Development
Create a Vibrant Quality of Life in Lamar
Create a Great City Government
Renew, Rebuild and Replace our City’s Aging Infrastructure
Foster Inter-Governmental Collaboration

By Russ Baldwin




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