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2011 Northlands vote will have to be set aside

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Last November’s vote regarding the construction of a sewer line in the Northlands annexation area of Walsenburg will have to be set aside and a new vote held this year according to information disclosed at the city council meeting this week.
City attorney Dan Hyatt said the vote that dealt with the indebtness of Northlands area registered voters who are property owners, real property owners and / or residents will have to be set aside because the voting did not include everyone it should have. Hyatt said Tuesday night that qualified electors; residents, property owners and real property owners in the annexed area known as Huajatolla Hills should have been included in the voting last year.
Walsenburg Finance Director David Johnston said the need for a new vote this November should not affect the city’s grant / loan applications.
The inadvertent omission of the Huajatolla Hills voters was discovered at a recent meeting of the Northlands’ residents and city officials regarding the financing of the proposed sewer project.
It is expected the city will work to have the item on the November 2012 General Election ballot.
The Tuesday night city council meeting got off to a rocky start when three members of the council; Rick Jennings, James Baca and Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar voted no on approving the agenda. The vote to approve the agenda was carried 4 to 3 with Mayor Larry Patrick, and council members Erin Jerant, James Moore and Nick Vigil voting yes.
The issue in question was a pair of items calling for the appointment of two members of city council to other groups; the city planning and zoning commission and the Youth Activity Committee. The council members voting against those items being on the agenda indicated they felt a full city council should be seated before any additional council appointments are made.
Later in the meeting, councilman Jennings made two motions calling for the council to put off action involving the two appointment agenda items . Both of those motions carried on unanimous votes.
Gary Sporcich, one of the Ward 2 council representatives, resigned his position earlier this year. The city council has advertised for letters of interest for the open council seat and have received two so far, both from former council members. James England and Cathy Pineda have delivered their letters of interest to the city clerk, but it will be at least another two weeks before any action is taken.
Some council members Tuesday indicated disappointment about an agenda item calling for possible action to fill the vacant Ward 2 council seat was removed from the June 19th agenda late last week by Mayor Patrick. “There’s a lack of communication,” said councilman Baca, “I thought we were going to discuss this, but I had to hear through the grapevine that is was going to be removed.”
Baca said Wednesday morning the city will be taking letters of intent for the open city council position for the next two weeks.
In other business, the council heard a Power Point presentation by Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha regarding the ambitious county-wide trails master plan. The item was before the city council for possible action; (a resolution adopting the plan,) but there are a few minor changes in the wording the city attorney would like to see before approval. Galusha said he didn’t expect action on the resolution, but he wanted to make the presentation as the various components of the project will need coordinated cooperation by both city and county governments.
The city council approved the appointment of Al Tucker as the city’s representative on the Arkansas Valley Water Round Table.
Council also approved the renewal of the Silver Dollar Inn’s liquor license; a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Ritter Water issue; a resolution (2012-R-13) regarding the use of city employees as labor at the ranch the city owns. The resolution memorializing a practice between the city and the ranch manager will only be in effect this year and will be readdressed by the city council in 2013.
The council also approved a letter with Huerfano County regarding construction of the new ambulance barn on Cuerno Verde Drive. The letter allows the county to obtain at regular rates, a water and natural gas tap of the appropriate size for the building.
City council also approved on a unanimous vote, an agreement naming Anthony Martin Coca as the Operator in Responsible Charge of the city’s wastewater treatment plant from April of this year on a monthly basis.
The city council also heard the May crime statistics report presented by Police Chief James Chamberlain. While a number of crime categories saw an increase over the same time period last year, Chamberlain noted that burglary and break-ins had decreased recently.