Trustees Meeting: August 6, 2018

by Pitkin News august 8, 2018

SALES TAX INCREASE AND SHORT TERM RENTAL ISSUE WILL BE REFERRED TO PITKIN VOTERS IN NOVEMBER ELECTION; POSSEIN’S TO CLOSE UP SHOP

During the Public Comment portion of the Pitkin Town Council meeting on August 6, 2018, Ann Possien announced that the business she and her son operate on State Street in Pitkin will be closing. Noting that for more than 40 years Possien, her late husband Gordon, and her son Benson, have supported the community with art work donations and wood carving donations that have been used in town promotional activities and as gifts to be used in raffles supporting the community and its fire department, Ann Possien explained that the inability to continue the long-standing annual renewal of a business license led to the decision to discontinue business operations in Pitkin. For a number of years the Possien’s renewed their business license until the issuance of business licenses was discontinued by the then Town Council in 2016-2017.

SALES TAX INCREASE

The Town Council decided on Monday night that at the November general election the voters will be asked to approve a 1.5% sales tax increase that will bring the total local sales tax in Pitkin to 4.5%. In deciding to request the increase, the Town Council plans to include ballot language that indicates 2% of the total sales tax will go to general fund budget operations and the remaining 2.5% in sales tax revenue will be earmarked for the Town’s Street Fund. Discussion indicated the earmarked funds will primarily be used for snow removal expenses which are increasing dramatically since Gunnison County has announced plans to reduce services to Pitkin. Revenues will also be used for ongoing street and bridge repairs and replacement. It was noted that the Town Council will be meeting with Gunnison County Commissioners on September 11 to discuss the County’s role in Pitkin’s snow removal operations. However, future expected road/bridge maintenance and repair expenses will also require increased revenues so that regardless of a possible change in snow removal policy by the County Commission, the proposed 2.5% earmark for the Street Fund will remain on the ballot question.

VOTE ON SHORT TERM RENTALS IN RESIDENTIAL ZONING DISTRICT

At a workshop meeting in July the Trustees agreed to give thought, prior to the August 6 meeting, to the input received from constituents as well as the idea of a possible compromise on short term rental regulations. Trustees reported back than many of the comments received indicated the belief that whether or not short term rentals (STRs) should be allowed in the Residential district should be put to a vote of the registered electors in Pitkin. While several Trustees initially were supportive of a compromise approach to solving Pitkin’s STR dilemma, such as allowing a limited number of STRs in Residential, the more the topic was discussed Monday the more it became apparent that a yes or no vote is needed. After considerable discussion and public comment, the Town Council has scheduled yet another workshop session for August 13 at which time Town Attorney McDonald will present for consideration a ballot question that, if approved, would lead to an amendment of the Zoning Code to specifically prevent STRs in the Residential zone. Left unanswered at this point is whether or not there will be any STR permitting requirements such as those included in the January 2018 ordinance that was repealed after a referendum petition was filed. The Council’s intent is to put the issue of whether or not STRs will be allowed in the Residential district on the ballot for the upcoming November general election which will be administered by Gunnison County election officials.

OTHER BUSINESS

During Commissioner Reports the Town Hall Commissioner, Juliet Serato, reported that repair and improvements needs for Town Hall continue, noting that Pitkin is obligated by past grant funding contract conditions to provide ongoing maintenance of the structure until 2029. Ms. Serato recommended that the Town Council consider establishing a use fee policy and Trustees agreed to consider such a policy at their September regular meeting.

Trustees discussed ways to improve review and approval of meeting agendas to promote better time efficiency and to assure that Council members have the opportunity to have items of interest added to the agenda. It was agreed that prior to publication of the official agenda, a draft agenda will be available for review and amendment by Council members by mid-week preceding a regular meeting and that information about possible executive sessions will appear on each agenda.

The Town Council voted to determine that the alternative waste disposal system at 704 State Street is in compliance with applicable regulations but that the Council needs to develop some inspection criteria for alternative waste systems. According to Colorado Department of Public Health Environment officials Regulation 43 does not specifically provide inspection criteria for alternative systems and the Council agreed that until they (Council) establish inspection criteria there is no reasonable way to determine if there are potential problems with such systems. During the discussion it appeared there may be some interest in reviewing and revising the Town’s OWTS regulations to clarify requirements related to alternative systems as well as to assure that existing “legacy systems” are able to continue to operate as long as there are no problems.

The Town Council will meet again Monday, August 13, to continue discussion of the short term rental
issue and possible ballot language.

You may listen to the audio recording of this meeting by following this Link.