Oak Creek still seeks members for board

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— Oak Creek has been looking for parties interested in serving on its Town Board since before it canceled an election for a lack of candidates in April. No one came forward then, and if no one does soon, the town will have to call for an election in June. But the Town Board might be willing to sweeten the pot — just a little.

During a work session Thursday with the Town Board about personnel policies and procedures, Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen suggested adding water and sewer services as compensation for board members who live within the service district — a perk already available to full-time town employees.

Town Board members traditionally receive some compensation on a per-meeting basis, but the current board has waived that benefit. On Thursday, no decision was made about the potential benefit, but Town Board members expressed that if the change was made, it should apply only to incoming members. The board requested Page-Allen gather information about the potential financial impact.

Whether the savings could lure a potential board member in or if the gesture alone is enough, the town could save the $3,000 typically budgeted for an election.

Other personnel items discussed include clarification regarding which employees are eligible to participate in the town’s 457 deferred compensation plan and creating a classification of regular employee that would include year-round positions, even those that are part time.

Thursday’s work session was the second such meeting, and Page-Allen hopes to have the updated personnel policies and procedures handbook adopted May 24 to fulfill requirements before a potential July 1 effective date.

Getting up to speed

Updating personnel policies is just one of many items Page-Allen has been working on during her first few months as Oak Creek’s town administrator. She said she has a list of 23 things she is continuing to work on, and the town is starting to reap the benefits.

“Things are going pretty well,” Page-Allen said. “We’re looking at things, talking to employees. The board seems to be productive.”

On the agenda for future Town Board meetings are updates to the municipal code and examining water and sewer rates.

The town’s transition from a flat rate for water and sewer services to a metered system is gaining steam. The installation of a meter now is required with any new building permit, and as part of the its membership in the Colorado Rural Water Association, the town is having a water rate structure study done. The meters will be read quarterly, and the study will help the town address any affordability issues.

Projects such as these have kept Page-Allen busy, and more are on the horizon. “It’s really just trying to bring a lot of things together,” she said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4254 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Well, Town Board is reaping what they've sowed. Last summer there was an open seat and the only applicant was left twisting in the wind with Town Board delaying making a decision and then finally rejected when someone else applied. And the initial applicant was well-informed and having attended many Town Board meetings.

Nor does it help that they are talking about offering the exact sort of inducement that demonstrates what is wrong with the Town Board. Someone with business sense, or even common sense, knows that a utility enterprise desperately short of money does not give away their service. And that it is especially wring-headed when that gesture only benefits citizens that are property owners and is of less benefit to senior citizens that already pay only half. That the town utilities, electricity, water and sewer not billing for service is a significant part of their budget problems. That a survey of other towns with their town operated utilities finds a consistent pattern of strict policies of not giving away service. For instance, SB water/sewer charged Howelson ice rink the full amount for taps fees and charges for water/sewer service the same as any other commercial customer.

Oh well, rate survey will probably mention the poor practice of giving away service. Since the municipal utility doesn't make a profit then giving away service is not paid as charitable donations from their profits, but is paid by everyone else via higher utility rates.

If Town was to create an appropriate incentive to get people to serve then pay money from the general fund and so tax revenues are spent based upon priorities. Proposing giving away utility service further demonstrates the bad management of the Town's utilities.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW, now is probably the most accessible time to be a Town Board member. Town Board is provided with meeting packets prior to the meeting which have background research on the agenda items.

So board members are no longer being asked during a meeting to remember what had been before or to recall the precise working of the existing municipal code.

The challenge of the position is that OC town government has very little money and due to declining property values and the two year property valuation period ending in June of even numbered years (ie June 2012) then further budget cuts are to be expected. And Town already lacked revenues to pay for critical maintenance.

The serious current situation was apparent Sunday when two of the three streets to access the south side of town were closed due to water line breaks.

Other Colorado towns as small as Oak Creek with as little revenues as OC do not try to be independent full service towns. Instead they give up some of their local control and become more like unincorporated county residents where the county accepts primary responsibility for the more expensive required government services. And the town is left with planning and other local issues that the county would rather not have to deal with. Such as Town of Yampa which pays a token amount for Sheriff dept to cover their police services. Which means their law enforcement does not enforce their town municipal code and so limits the power of Yampa's town government which does retain planning control It is a major change in local government perspective, but the only choice is how much further things are allowed to deteriorate before accepting the inevitable.

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