Meeting in ordinary session on September 20, the municipal council of Salida quickly proceeded to examine three major points. Council members Harald Kasper and Jane Templeton were not present, leaving a quorum of four plus Mayor Shore.
Writing in Citizen Comment, Chipeta Mountain Project Guide Craig Nielson announced a ribbon cutting, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Monday, October 10 (Indigenous Peoples Day). As previously reported by Voice of the Valley of the ArkMountain Heritage Park is located near the top of “S” Mountain on Spiral Drive.
Organizers say Mountain Heritage Park was created to showcase and celebrate the rich cultural and natural history of Salida’s mountain heritage and become a gathering place for rest, reflection and connection.
The park offers stunning views of two distinct mountain ranges that have shaped the history and culture of Salida and south-central Colorado for generations. Details of the planned grand opening will be released within the next two weeks.
Resident Chloe Ribco offered several comments asking council how they can help achieve housing equity for those without housing equity. She also noted that Native Americans make decisions knowing that they affect seven generations to come and asked that this be a criteria for the council’s considerations. She also indicated her support for a Home Rule initiative.
Chaffee Housing Trust Deficit Funding
Read McCulloch, Executive Director of Chaffee Housing Trust (CHT) joined online to provide an update on the progress of the six affordable housing units planned for Third and M streets in Salida. Foundation work is underway and concrete is expected to be poured on September 26. The fabricated units will be erected on site with a planned move-in date before the end of the year.
McCulloch reported a funding gap of $110,000 caused by significant material and labor cost inflation. He cited the need for an ADA-mandated wheelchair access unit that required a retaining wall at the site. Previously, the CHT had secured 50% of the shortfall from the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners who, in turn, had asked Salida to cover the rest.
The Board voted to approve the spending using funds from the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA). It should be noted that the city had previously donated the land and also made infrastructure improvements.
Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Salida School District
An updated IGA was presented to council members between the City and the Salida R-32-J School District. It had been reviewed by the Salida Johnson Police Chief, the Salida City Attorney and the District Attorney before being approved by the school district. The IGA follows an assessment by outside resources of an incident on September 23, 2021 at Salida High School, where roles and responsibilities were confused at best.
According to staff, the new agreement “reflects current state law, more accurately outlines roles and responsibilities, clarifies emergency operations procedures, and reflects both organizations’ values on educating our youth in a safe and productive environment”.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) is on site full time at the secondary school and Chief Johnson reported that the SRO completed 100 hours of training this summer.
Responding to a question from council member Dominique Naccarato, Johnson said the SRO will be conducting training sessions and student assemblies during the year.
“We are off to a good start with ongoing meetings and full participation in this year’s reunion week. The schools took our “Coffee With a Cop” example and do “Coffee with the Principal”, [in an effort to build bridges]”, Johnson said.
Council member Justin Critelli asked what metric could be used to measure the progress of the relationship between the school district, police department and community. It was suggested that the parties could build on the previous investigation and get input from the Extraordinary Teenagers Council (ETC) who regularly appear before the council.
The increase in the rate of professional accommodation tax (OLT) passes first reading
After a brief discussion Order 2022-18 adopted unanimously at first reading. Effective January 1, 2023, it will increase the nightly OLT to $4.82 per occupied room per night (the maximum originally approved by Salida voters in a 2008 ballot).
This revenue stream can only be used to provide parks, facilities, and recreation and arts programs. A separate ballot measure will be put before voters on November 8, 2022 to separately tax short-term rentals (which do not include commercial accommodation facilities) for the purpose of funding affordable housing projects and programs. A public hearing on that order is now set for October 4.
Treasurer Bergin reported that municipal sales taxes for the month of July set a new record of $951,537, an increase of 2.5% from the previous record set in July 2021. The tax share of Chaffee County sales of the city are up 9.8% from July 2021. Total sales tax collections are 3.1% higher year-to-date and 2.7% higher ahead of budget since the beginning of the year.
In the budget tracker, CFO Aimee Tihonovich noted that operating revenue is slightly below budget at this point. Operating expenses are also lower, meaning the city is well ahead of budget. “Revenue will remain very close to budget with some months like August below budget and others above,” she said.
“We are budgeting conservatively and will refine again before the budget is passed in October,” Bergin added.
The public meeting concluded, followed by an executive session to discuss intergovernmental sewer system agreements and related negotiations with the City of Poncha Springs.
Featured Image: The Chaffee Housing Trust site at 3rd and M Streets in Salida awaits the pouring of concrete foundations, September 22, 2022. Photo by Merrell Bergin