by Brian Orr
WALSENBURG- Police Chief Larry Baldonado informed the Walsenburg City Council on Tuesday evening that two more City police officers are leaving the force for better paying jobs in Pueblo. This leaves the Walsenburg Police Force down by five officers. “Pay is the issue; the biggest issue,” said Chief Baldonado. “Pueblo is paying more.” Baldonado noted that efforts to recruit new officers are not having much success. “We’ve tried just about everything,” he said, including offering free housing and paying for their schooling. Baldonado reminded the Council that Walsenburg is so down on the pay scale, that it will take two or three years to bring it up to parity.
In other business, City Administrator Eric Pearson told the Council that the City will make every effort to notify citizens that water and sewer bills needs to be paid on the 23rd of each month. The front desk will stay open late into the evening on Tuesday Sept. 23 to accept payments, and will stay open late again on Thursday Sept. 25 after red tags have been put out. Pearson noted that in August almost 100 water meters were disconnected. The vast majority of those have now paid up.
In the Citizen Forum, Rachel Taylor and four of her children showed up to ask City Council why Walsenburg Wild Waters was closed for the Labor Day weekend. “I heard it advertised it was open,” she said. “It’s a real pain to load the kids up in the car and find they’re closed. I drove by every day.”
Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Quintana, who was filling in for Mayor Edi Sheldon, told Taylor that, “We worked real hard to have it open; we had commitments from the lifeguards, but they didn’t show up.” Councilwoman Edi Flanagin added that, “We offered bonuses for them to come; maybe they didn’t understand they needed to show up to get the bonuses.” Quintana concluded that “We’ll do better next year.”
The Council adopted Resolution 2008 R-20, in which the City of Walsenburg gave its support to a county-wide one-cent sales tax increase, with the proceeds going for the sole purpose of offsetting the costs of emergency services dispatching. The City also supports the County’s efforts in getting the measure on the November ballot.
The Council however tabled Ordinance 977, which would have adopted international reference codes for building one or two family homes. It was noted that its adoption, though not radically affecting new home construction, could greatly drive up the cost of remodeling existing homes, which would then have to meet the newer, more stringent standards.
Lastly, the Council granted City Clerk John Zgut the power to countersign city checks when needed.