Valco Property Annexed, 2014 City of Lamar Budget Adopted

New City of Lamar Logo

New City of Lamar Logo

The Lamar City Council passed the 2014 budget on second reading during the Monday evening meeting, October 28, as well as the ordinance to levy and collect taxes for fiscal year 2014. 

The council conducted a public hearing regarding the annexation of 108 acres into the city limits for the former Valco Ponds, now known as North Gateway Park.  Following the annexation from the county into the city districts, the park will be under the administration of the city.  The land’s new designation will be Open Land Recreational from vacated Industrial and will be used as a public park.  The city is also claiming the three gravel pits.  One smaller one was filled in earlier in the year.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, said the city is partnering with the Department of Parks and Wildlife on some future projects and management of the property and an annexation impact study has been completed.  Sutherland said the next steps will be to secure grants and funding for future development of the property.  He added that contributions or donations from businesses and citizens can benefit the donor as well, through state tax credits. The park will be used for activities such as fishing, birding, hiking and boating as well as a wild life habitat.  There is no swimming allowed in the ponds and the city’s open beverage container ordinance is also in effect. 

Plans to develop two new aircraft hangers at Lamar Municipal airport are under discussion.  The lack of any new hangars constructed over the past 12 years has hindered growth and development of the airport.  The Airport Advisory Board has been in discussion with potential aircraft owners who want to build private hangers in alignment with the current city specifications and would be attached to the existing hangar blocks for proposed hangars which were never constructed.  The estimated cost for an individual hangar is $60,000 and would have a 40 year lease before the hangar would revert back to the city.  City Administrator Sutherland, the mayor and city attorney will continue discussions with private developers to reach an agreement that will be acceptable with the council. 

Zonta Banner City Council

Linda Hawkins, Jane Felter, Karen Ketcham and Deb Reynolds at the Podium

The Domestic Safety Resource Center, Library Board and members of Zonta were on hand for the reading of a proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month for October. This marks their third year of partnering to bring awareness of this particular crime to the region.  In 2012, 149 adults (130 women and 19 men), as well as 179 children, were served by the Center for Baca, Cheyenne, Kiowa and Prowers Counties.  Members displayed a banner proclaiming, “Zonta Says No, 16 Days of Activism” to highlight observances against domestic violence between November 25 to December 10. In a continuing effort to help finance the Center’s Safe House, the Fantasy Tree Committee will hold their annual fund-raiser event and auction at the Lamar Elks Lodge on November 23. 

Pat Mason, City of Lamar Public Works Director, has been out searching for bargains in used equipment.  Mason told the city council he’s come across eleven pieces of equipment from CDOT in Denver that will be up for public sale in the near future.  Mason said the 2013 Capital Improvement budget includes $40,000 for used surplus equipment and the eleven pieces combined comes to $20,800.  For that price, Mason said, the city will get newer equipment by about ten years and includes four mid range dump trucks with plows, one tandem dump truck with plow, four pickups with dump boxes, a Champion road grader with wing plow and front blade and an 8,000 gallon tanker trailer.  The council authorized the purchase for eight pieces right now, as paperwork on the remaining three has to be completed before they can be sold.  Once that has been transacted, it will leave a balance of $19,200 in the Capital Fund for the rest of the year. 

The city’s South Transmission Line will be replaced instead of repaired.  The six mile line from the well field into the city has deteriorated so much that it cannot be repaired.  The city secured a grant/loan contract through the CWCB, Colorado Water Conservation Board, to replace the degraded pipeline and the council passed a resolution to amend the Facility Investment Fee from the Rate and Fee Schedule to generate funding to repay the loan.  The city will charge a monthly fee of $1 to all residential and commercial meters to meet the needed payments for the $792,850 loan.  The $1 fee would be stopped once the loan has been repaid.  Mayor Stagner noted that without some grants the city had received, the fee could have been as much as $3 per month. 

The council approved a resolution for Mayor Stagner and City Administrator John Sutherland to develop a contract with Carrigan Excavating LLC for the replacement of the south well field raw water transmission line.  The work will be under the supervision and management of Honeywell Building Solutions.  The contract is not to exceed $1,153,600.  The contract will go to legal review from the city’s Water Department staff. 

The council tabled a resolution for the alteration of some fees for use of public facilities and services for 2014 for the Rates and Fees Schedule.  There were some new fees developed as well by Roberto Becerrill, the city’s Planning and Community Development Director.  The council said they would schedule a work session to discuss the need and rate of the proposed fee changes. 

On another water note for the city, the mandatory Stage 2 water restrictions, in effect since May, will be amended to reflect the changing daylight hours.  Instead of from midnight to 6am and after 6pm on designated days, the times have been altered so no watering will be allowed between 10am and 6pm on specified days.  Four extra hours will be available for morning watering.  Properties east of Main Street will still water only on Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday while properties west of Main Street will water only on Saturday-Monday-Wednesday. 

The council approved a resolution supporting the efforts of the Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners to continue Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Passenger Rail Service and to modify its route to Pueblo and Trinidad to provide improved transportation service along the Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico route.  There has been concern over the cost of repairs to the passenger line for the Southwest Chief’s route through southeast Colorado into Kansas and northern New Mexico.  The Chief provides a daily run between Chicago and Los Angeles.  The line is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.  The thought is that a modified link from La Junta to Pueblo and south to Trinidad could help spur tourism in the Pueblo region as travelers can connect with charter bus services operating from Pueblo to Colorado Springs to Denver.  The Lamar City Council urged all civic leaders in southeastern Colorado to coordinate with each other and their counterparts in Kansas and New Mexico to create a united effort to retain Southwest Chief passenger service.   

In other action, Lamar Librarian Debbie Reynolds reminded the council that a Trunk or Treat party will be held at the library parking lot between 5pm and 7pm on October 31; Colorado State Falconers will be in Lamar November 1-3; Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Director will provide the council with her end-of-year report of accomplishments on Tuesday November 5;  the monthly city council informal breakfast will be held Wednesday, November 6 from 7am to 8am at Daylight Donuts, the annual Farm-City Banquet featuring music by Clare Dunn will be held November 15 at the Lamar Community Building; the Rededication of the Madonna of the Trail Statue will be conducted by members of DAR at 11am on Saturday, November 23 and the annual Fantasy Tree Event and Auction will be held that evening at the Lamar Elks Lodge with free admission and hors d’oeuvres to benefit the Domestic Safety Resource safe house.

By Russ Baldwin

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