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Trinidad City Council work session: adjustment to landfill fees, in-person meetings, and DOLA grant cycle discussed

by Bill Knowles


TRINIDAD — The Trinidad City Council took a look at adjusting landfill fees, restarting in-person meetings, and how to best go after a couple of grants from DOLA during the August grant cycle, during a work session last Monday evening.

The discussion on landfill fees comes about following last year’s voter-approved amendment changing the city charter allowing the landfill to become a city enterprise operation much the same way as the electric service, gas service, and water and sewage are.

The council discussed fee adjustments for the landfill, which saw an increase of trees and shrubbery being dropped off at the landfill without any cost to those who dropped of the plant debris. City manager Mike Valentine said that for the past two-and-a-half years the material has been dropped off for free and the city needs to start charging for it.

A shredder had been purchased by the city to mulch the material, but it has not been used. The idea was to shred the plant matter and compost it then hand the fertilizer back to residents of Trinidad. That hasn’t been done.

The city looked at charging $10 per bag for small drop offs and $31 a ton for trucks bringing in yard waste. However, no charges have been added to the list of items that can be placed in the landfill.

The use of the shredder will need a second person to help operate the machine while the other person feeds it. This would increase the number of employees at the landfill from three to four.


In-person city council meetings

Recognizing that holding in-person city council meetings is the ideal, Mayor Phil Rico also acknowledged that, with the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, it would not be feasible at this time.

Other city council members also saw in-person meetings as the ideal but recognized it as something that is unworkable at the moment. While using the online meeting app “Go To Meeting” was a good work around, meeting online does come with problems, such as the city council meeting last week when council member Karen Griego’s connection was dropped during a vote. By the time she was reconnected, the vote was tallied at 6-0 rather than 7-0 with Griego being solicited for her vote.

Rather than using plexiglass to separate council members, council member Eli DeBono suggested that the form remain the same. That’s because the council chamber is almost too small even for the city council.

Kim Gonzales, Las Animas County and Huerfano County District Public Health Director, said she understood the frustration of the city council but recommended that the council continue as is. “I understand the frustrations of not meeting in person. Going forward I would strongly discourage going in person. I would like to see if elected officials can set a good example going forward. We’ve boomeranged back to March with a lack of personal protective equipment and lack of testing. We need the governments to be proactive in the community,” Gonzales said.


DOLA grant cycle discussion

August first is the first grant round of the cycle and the city is seeking two grants from the Department of Local Affairs.

The first grant being sought is a $200,000 grant from the State Historic Fund for work to be done at the Fox Theater West, as requested by the Fox Group.

The second is another $200,000 grant for a Fisher’s Peak study looking at the impacts of the park on infrastructure. The city is seeking help from the county for this grant. The city will chase the historic grant and the county will work on the Fisher’s Peak grant, which drew a positive consensus from the city council.

The August 1 deadline is one city council meeting away, so both entities have a lot of conversation to go through before they can vote either way on the funding. The next round of DOLA grants comes up in December.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:06 p.m.