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La Veta Town Board addresses a variety of issues

by Carol Dunn

LA VETA- The SPACe Gallery is ready to commence with its expansion project, and Ann Gethen was at the La Veta Town Board meeting Tuesday night to ask for a gesture of good will from the Board.  “We are wanting to get started on Phase One of this project,” she said.  “Anything you could squeeze off the building permit fee would be appreciated.  Every penny counts.”  The Board voted to waive the Town’s portion (half) of the building permit fee.  Gethen said Tom Lessar will be the contractor on the project, which is expected to have an upper cost limit of $225,000. 

    In a letter dated 9/13/10, Tom Lessar resigned as the Town’s building inspector.  Lessar had met with Trustees Dale Davis and Dawn Blanken about complaints that he was serving as building inspector while working in the Town as a contractor.  The Board went into executive session to discuss personnel issues, and when they returned, the resignation letter was accepted by the Board.  Trustee Tracy Webb suggested a letter of thanks be sent to Lessar for his service to the Town.  Davis said Rick Dunn, the backup building inspector, has been serving as building inspector since the letter was received.  Davis will contact Dunn to determine if he is interested in taking over the position permanently. 

As the Board has been dealing with some water issues for a few months, Trustee Blanken presented a proposed amendment to Title 13 of the La Veta Municipal Code.  Changes proposed by Blanken included:  1. If the bill is estimated, then “Estimated” will be printed on the customer’s water bill.  2. It would become a citable offense to tamper with any portion of the water system.  3. Service pipes from the property line are the owner’s responsibility.  No reduction of rates will be made for parts or fixtures that are frozen, leaking or malfunctioning.  Klinke clarified that item 2 would include opening the meter pit.  “I have a problem with adding that particular language,” he said.  Trustee Laurie Erwin said, “I would like a chance to look at this a little bit more.  If we’re going to make other changes to Title 13, we should do them all at the same time.”  The Board voted 4-3 not to accept the changes to Title 13 proposed by Blanken.  A workshop on the Town’s EQR schedule was set for September 28.

    The water billing audit discovered that 53 accounts with multiple EQRs had an issue with overcharges.  A little over $11,000 in credits have since been issued to the affected accounts.  Town Clerk Nancy Culbreath said the billing problem did not affect residential accounts.  

    The Board discussed another billing issue, this one from GMS Consulting Engineers.  The Town was billed $376 for conversations and emails in April about technical and financial aspects of possible annexation of the Grandote golf property.  At the time the bill was received, the Board decided to pass the expense along to Grandote, since two of the phone conversations involved Grandote’s manager, Kelly Popejoy, and Dr. Charles “Randy” Briggs, its owner.  Grandote recently sent a check for $75.20 to the Town “as a gesture of good will” to cover 0.08 hour of the GMS bill.  Blanken explained, “Kelly called GMS, then Kelly and Dr. Briggs called GMS.  They involved themselves directly in that conversation.  They were looking for ways to annex Grandote on Grandote’s terms.”  On a 4-3 vote, the Board decided not to accept the check from Grandote.  Keairns offered to pay the difference himself, saying he felt it was his fault that the situation got out of hand.  Blanken suggested he not do that, because it would give the appearance of paying personally to advance the Grandote annexation.

    The Board voted 6-1 to have the Town’s water engineers proceed with the first preliminary action, calculating dryup acreage, in preparation for using and storing its decreed Mexican Ditch water. 

    Trustee Jim Fowler told the Board, “We requested money for a sewer study, but the funds are frozen, so that is on hold.”  Regarding a section of the sewer system that needs work now, from Oak St. west through the alley, Mayor Pro-tem Larry Klinke estimated that project will require about $10,000.  From the audience, former Mayor Mickey Schmidt recommended GMS engineers shoot the elevations and do the engineering for the project, so the liability does not rest on the Town.

    Klinke reported that school superintendent Dave Seaney was going to involve the FFA in getting the fence next to the school moved.  Trustee Davis suggested, “Can we see if San Isabel will pull the posts and redrill the holes?  It would only be a 3 or 4 hour job for them.”

    In front of the CenturyTel building (now CenturyLink) the sidewalk has been broken.  Davis said the company will pay for everything to replace the broken sidewalk, except about five cubic yards of concrete, which the Town will pay for. 

    Blanken said the museum board has submitted its budget.  She added that they now need to propose policies and procedures, which the Town Board needs to review and approve.