New Floodplain Management Codes Approved by City

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The Lamar City Council conducted a public hearing on the adoption of an amendment for the Lamar Municipal Code regarding Floodplain Management.  The amendment change will bring the Lamar code into compliance with the rules and regulations issued by the Colorado Water Conservation Board in 2011.  Communities were given three years to make the needed changes in their codes.  The Lamar Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommend approval of the changes by the Lamar City Council.  Administrator John Sutherland explained to the council that in terms of administration duties, it would less burdensome to replace the entire codes instead of a piece-meal or patchwork of insertions and deletions of phrases, wordage or paragraphs throughout the code.  He noted one specific alteration that will apply to future construction in the city.  “The one critical thing is that they’re providing a certain amount of freeboard on new construction in a floodplain area.  It has to have one foot of freeboard, and they also make some special provisions for critical infrastructure such as hospitals or schools … all require freeboard just for safety concerns.”  He said another change states that property owners can’t make substantial changes to their property that negatively impacts their surrounding neighbors or other properties, “There needs to be some consideration for people who do construction or substantial reconstruction about the impact on other properties downstream from their site.”

Prowers Medical Center Chief Executive Officer, Craig Loveless, requested some consideration for building fees and permits from the City regarding future renovation plans for the hospital in 2015 in light of the financial impact the hospital makes on the community.  Loveless listed some of the economic numbers for the council.  He explained, “This past year for 2014, we paid out a little over $40,000 in bonuses in the form of Lamar Luv Bucks, trying to keep those monies here in the community.”  He said the hospital issued $20,000 in Luv Bucks into the community in the form of employee bonuses and the hospital plans to continue with that program in the future.  Using 2013 figures, as the 2014 audit is not complete as this time, Loveless stated that Prowers Medical Center has a $10M annual payroll, Charity cases amount to $2.5M, and $1.5M is spent on local vendors.  He said that in general, the hospital has a $17.6M impact on the community from its $25M operations budget.

In an effort to enhance services to the community, Loveless said, the Board of Directors recently approved a resolution for revenue bonds for a building project estimated at just over $8M.  “As with any building project, there are plan review fees and building permit fees and we would request the City Council consider a waiver of those two fees as we move forward with our building project,” he said.  He estimated the combined fees to be $94,000.  Loveless said that money could be used in the construction of two new operating suites at the hospital.  He said those upgraded rooms could be used to decrease the number of patients that need to travel outside the hospital district area for medical treatment.  The $94,000 he said, amounts to 10% of the new equipment purchases the hospital plans to make during the renovation project.  Mayor Roger Stagner said the council will discuss the requests, along with the economic impact the hospital provides to the city and the county and will set aside time for the discussion.

A one-year contract between the city and personal trainer, Kelsey Herrera, for use of the CV and weight room at the Lamar Community Building was approved by the council.  Rick Akers, Parks and Recreation Director said this is the original contract from 2013 and is more amenable to all parties involved.

Lamar Librarian, Debbie Reynolds, submitted two contract renewals for 2015 for the library.  One renews a digital program which provides access to 90 languages for adult learners and costs $2,000.  The other is for the program, Reference USA and helps users create marketing plans, performs competitive analyses, how to raise funds and how to locate people.  The cost is $650.

A lease agreement was approved for a land lease with Southeast Colorado Power Association for $1,500 a year.  The power company is renting land from the city’s well-field for their communications tower.  The current lease expired in 2010 and according to city records, was never renewed.  Administrator John Sutherland will issue the new contract to SECPA for their review and authorization.

Lamar Animal Control Officers asked for permission from the Council to waive adoption fees of $35 for the holiday period to help get the last of the stray pit bull dogs in the animal shelter adopted by the end of the year.  Articles regarding the available dogs in the shelter were run in both The Lamar Ledger and The Prowers Journal recently in an effort to provide information on the dogs for interested citizens.

The council approved a resolution to enter into a trust agreement for the Colorado Firefighter Heart and Circulatory Benefits Trust.  A new Colorado Revised Statute requires any full-time firefighter with continuous, full-time employment with any employer for at least five years be provided a defined level of benefits for certain heart and circulatory malfunctions.  A reimbursement fund was established by The Department of Local Affairs to compensate organizations for purchasing this coverage.

Following a public hearing, for the adoption of a supplemental budget for the City of Lamar for the current year, the council approved a resolution amending the 2014 budget increase, allowing funds to be transferred between city spending agencies.  Additional revenues were noted for the city from the FAA, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Victims Assistance Fund balance and the State of Colorado Library grants; additional expenditures resulted from the Airport project, new E-Force software for E-911, a new drug dog and library books and supplies provided for through the State grant program.

Administrator Sutherland noted holiday closings for city offices on December 24/25 and January 1st for New Year’s Day.  The city council breakfast will be held at Rancher’s Restaurant on Wednesday, January 7, from 7am to 8am.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedHealthLamarProwers CountyUtilities


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