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FYI event for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Image courtesy of FYI and the City of Salida

New Business
In a brisk 40-minute meeting on March 21, the Salida City Council (SCC) approved a resolution for a citizen appointment to the Historic Preservation Commission, two ordinances pertaining to the Groover annexation, heard Council and Treasurer reports, and approved temporarily changing the lighting display on Tenderfoot (“S”) Mountain to commemorate the proclamation of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Mayor Dan Shore read the proclamation, and Carmel Burton, a representative of Family and Youth Initiatives (FYI), was on hand to address concerns about the blue pinwheels that are customarily posted outside public buildings as another form of the nationwide commemoration.

To cut down on the possibility of windblown trash seen before, the pinwheels will be individually handed out to children instead. She also said that FYI will be hosting a commemorative event from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday April 2 at the Salida Scout Hut in Riverside Park, 210 E. Sackett Ave.

The family-friendly event will feature the Salida Circus and a drawing for a half-day river trip, as well as information booths on programs to help families. After a brief discussion about the challenges of changing out the LED lights on Tenderfoot, council member Alisa Pappenfort made the motion to approve the designation and blue-LED display for April, which carried unanimously.

Historic Preservation Commission, Groover Annexation and Zoning

The SCC then voted to approve Resolution 2023-13, replacing the retiring local historian Jack Chivvis on the Historic Preservation Commission with alternate Ryan Short, whose new term will end March 21, 2026. Council member Jane Templeton thanked Chivvis for his years of service on the commission.

Site map showing location of the Groover annexation. Image courtesy of the City of Salida.

Ordinances 2023-06 and 2023-07 for the Groover Annexation, a 0.65 acre property located at 7285 CR 160, on the immediate western boundary of the city across from the golf course, both passed their first readings with a second reading and public hearing for both scheduled for April 4.

The first ordinance deals with the actual annexation of the property into the City limits; the second sets the zoning at medium-density residential (R-2), a designation described by presenter and Community Development Director Bill Almquist, as in line with other surrounding properties within the city limits.

The applicants were present in council chambers but there was no public input or further questions from council members.

Council Reports Include $600,00 Housing Grant Award

During Council reports, Dominique Naccarato gave an update on the Chaffee Housing Authority Board meeting held March 16, saying that Jeff Eaton, a local volunteer with the Development Committee, having extensive housing experience, has been approved as the Interim Executive Director to replace outgoing Executive Director Becky Gray. She also reported that a groundbreaking event is currently scheduled on April 28 for Jane’s Place, a transitional housing unit at 3rd Street and Hwy. 291, named in honor of the late Jane Whitmer.

Harald Kasper asked for and received Council support to authorize city staff to investigate the possibility of cardboard recycling one day per month. Mayor Dan Shore reported that he had met the previous week with U.S. Congressional District 7 representative, Brittany Pettersen, to discuss community issues, including housing and broadband. Shore praised the new representative’s efforts to come to the area, and hear the concerns of rural Coloradoans.

Shore then congratulated Community Development Director Bill Almquist and Assistant City Administrator Christy Doon for getting a $600,00 Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) innovative housing grant for “walkable” workforce housing in downtown Salida. The monies are earmarked at the site of two derelict apartment buildings now owned by the city at First and D Streets.

Funds will be applied to asbestos remediation, demolition, site preparation, and other pre-construction costs for the proposed new housing units. While plans and partners for the project are still being developed, one concept involves a possible 19 apartments on the site.

Shore also revisited an issue raised during public comment at a previous meeting: “I am looking for direction from the rest of council on signage for businesses off of F Street. I have had citizens going out and getting bids. The cost of signage will be just under $5,000. By giving staff direction on this, we are promoting equity for other businesses off F Street.”

“Signage will help, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” said council member Jane Templeton: “People don’t read signs. They don’t read [the large] sign on Hwy. 50 directing people downtown. Businesses on First Street need to put up their own signs.”

“When you’re in your car, you’re just there to get where you’re going, but walking [downtown] is a different matter,” Shore replied. The small  expenditure is unbudgeted but appears to be able to be accommodated within current contingency amounts.

Treasurer Report

Treasurer Merrell Bergin reported that January sales tax figures were out: “Salida’s sales tax [revenue] was down $27,604 (at $617,939) compared to January 2022 (at $645,582). The city share of the county’s sales tax more than offset the city report by $36,806 ($233,861 compared to $197,054). Overall, that resulted in a net increase of $9,163 (1.1 percent) and a half a percent under budget for the year.

Bergin noted that “Retail is up, accommodations down slightly. Research by Finance Director Aimee Tihonovich indicates that the small Manufacturing sector had a windfall in 2021 and that was a one-time deal, not repeatable in 2022.” (The complete Treasurer’s Report can be found in the agenda packet here.) Concluding his report, Bergin said that 2022 pre-audit reports show that the city General Fund balance exceeded the budget, as driven by actual expenses being less than budgeted and revenues exceeding the budget.

Executive Session on Sewer System Expansion 

The SCC then went into Executive Session to hear legal advice from the City Attorney on negotiations for an updated Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Town of Poncha Springs on sewer system expansion. A need for increased capacity, outstripped by rapidly rising housing starts in Poncha Springs has placed pressure on the shared waste water system.

The question remains, with Salida owning the system and incremental demand coming largely from Poncha Springs, who will pay what share of the costly new infrastructure?