New Lamar City Treasurer Assumes Duties, Budget & Annexation Hearings Postponed

Kristin Rau

Kristin Rau

Kristin Rau has been hired by the City of Lamar as the new treasurer, replacing Linda Rohlman who resigned her position several months ago.  Rau was hired following the final round of candidate interviews by the council on Tuesday, September 24 and the council ratified a phone poll on the 25th during the council meeting, Monday, October 14. 

The ordinance to levy and collect taxes beginning with the new year was approved by the council.  The property tax mill levy remains unchanged for the 26th consecutive year at 13.239 mills for each dollar of the total valuation for assessment of all taxable property within the city.  Lamar expects to collect $456,268 in 2014, an increase of 0.33% from the $454,727 collected in 2013. 

Action on the adoption of the ordinance for the city’s 2014 budget was postponed until next Monday, October 21, when a special public meeting will be held for review and discussion of city finances for the approaching year.  The council also postponed a public hearing on the ordinance which would annex North Gateway Park into the city as well as a proposed change of zoning to A-L Agriculture for the 108 acres located just south of the Arkansas River.  Discussion on the annexation will be held during the council regular meeting on October 28. 

Bert Davis, representing the city’s Insurance Committee, reviewed the agreement for the County Health Pool to provide health insurance coverage to city employees.  The changes will continue the 75%-/-25% premiums for members and a choice of two deductible plans will be available.  City employees who opt in for the health-oriented Wellness Evaluation with Interactive Health Solutions can gain credit towards their deductible when they reach their recommended health goal.  A contribution of $250 to a Health Savings Account is made per employee when their goal is reached each year.  Davis said she would attend the health pool meetings as the city’s representative.  The council approved a resolution authorizing the city to join the County Health Pool. 

Doug Harbour, organizer of the second annual 9/11 Tri-State Appreciation Day for first responders, provided a recap of the September 14 activities for the city council. Harbour said he believed the city had not had such a large parade in a number of years, and was gratified at all the support he received from the city’s Park and Recreation Department, work crews and Police Department.  Harbour said, “Mark September 13, 2014 on your calendar, as we’ve already secured that date for the fairgrounds from the county, and we’re planning to hold another event next year.”  He commented that the participation from other communities in Colorado would have been larger, but a number of first responder units could not attend because of the flooding that had occurred in their communities.  

Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Director gave a similar overview of the Pedal the Plains Event which was hosted by Lamar this past September.  She too, had similar praise and a word of thanks for all the organizations that participated in hosting over 800 bicycle riders to town for the three-day event, as well as another 150 support personnel.  “We haven’t had time to assess the financial impact to the city yet, but you can estimate that with an additional 1,000 people in town for their visit, a number of retailers in the community had increased sales,” she told the council.  Hodge added that she believes Lamar will be called on to host another Pedal the Plains event in the next several years. 

Administrator Sutherland told the audience, residents can attend a morning Coffee & Conversation discussion on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30am at Brew Unto Others coffee shop at 119 South Main Street.  The event is hosted by Lamar Partnership Incorporated and will offer a chance to residents and business owners to voice their concerns and issues for downtown shopping developments.  A fall health fair for senior citizens will run from 7am to 11am at the SOS Center on East Olive Street on the 16th as well.  Sutherland reminded the audience that the city’s fall clean up day will run from 7am to 4pm on Saturday, October 19 and Moonlight Madness will be held on Thursday, October 24, beginning at 6pm throughout the downtown Lamar area. 

Lamar resident, Shawny Comer, addressed the council about a letter her family received from city attorney, Garth Nieschburg, stating that her family was operating a hog farm on their property that was recently annexed off South 14th Street.  She said that portion of the property is in county land, about 200 feet from the city boundary.  The land, she continued, is used for small farm animals, such as goats and pigs that her children keep for FFA projects.  She said the number of animals may fluctuate from 6 to 12 on a seasonal basis, but there is no intent for a hog farming operation on their part.  Administrator Sutherland told the council he requested a visit to the site by a city code enforcement officer who reported that the land is the cleanest he had seen for that type of operation and is very well maintained.  Mayor Roger Stagner told Comer, he’d contact attorney Nieschburg for clarification on the matter.   

Even though the city is still regulated by Stage 2 water restrictions, some residents are asking council members for a relaxing of the watering hours now that the summer has ended, days are cooler and the seasonal shift means the mornings and evenings are becoming darker, earlier.  Councilwoman Haggard asked if there could be some leeway on the morning watering hours, from 6am to 10am, while the restrictions are still in effect. 

The council passed the ordinance amending the city code governing notice of weeds and refuse on property within the city zones.  The change now allows the city administrator to declare a property eligible for emergency abatement so the violations can be corrected within 48 hours of posting a public notice to the property owners.  Beforehand, it would take from four to five weeks to take any action to clear a property of excessive weed growth or other violations.

By Russ Baldwin


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