NOTES TO MEMBERS: BUDGET SURPLUS, WATER BILLS, RCAG MTG & ELECTIONS
August 21, 2011
by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
I’ve been out of town for a while and things have been a little slow in the last few weeks, but there are a few items of interest to report here.
Things should get more interesting during the rest of the year and into the winter. The bridge replacement starts on Garrison Street. A lot of dirt gets hauled out of the park and down our streets. The old ice skating rink will be disassembled. We go through a round of Council elections. We are getting a new City Manager. The Ralston Complex Advisory Group moves onto some thornier issues. And now that the Triangle ODP is complete, there’s no telling what a developer might surprise us with this fall.
First the money: What to do with City’s one-time budget surplus is still being thought out by the City Council. The surplus available has been variously estimated anywhere between $4 million and $10 million, but the number most seem to be settling on is around $9 million.
That’s the number I got from sitting in on a two-hour Council budget retreat held earlier this month. The City has to approve its 2012 budget in October. The purpose of the retreat seems to have been to help the City Staff to get a sense of what the Council’s funding priorities were. The Council doesn’t take votes or make formal decisions during study sessions, but they did come up with a rough most-liked list of capital improvement projects that are likely to be wrapped into the City’s formal 2012 budget proposal.
For the CLRC neighborhoods, the favored projects of interest are those that support the Gold Line commuter rail line. These are often referred to as “betterments” projects and include things like station enhancements that RTD will not pay for. However, some projects are likely to be counted as a part of the 2.5% match the City must contribute to the new rail line. A complete description of what these projects are and what they will do is not yet available. So far, the new line is on track (pardon the pun) and, despite federal budget cutbacks, a make-or-break announcement of $1 billion grant to support the project is expected at the end of this month. Keep your fingers crossed.
Another project of interest that seems likely to be approved is the early preliminary design (at the 30% level) for the Ralston Road corridor between Kipling and Wadsworth. That project’s timeline calls for upgrading the sidewalks along residential parts of Ralston Road sometime in 2018 — if the construction phases get funded. Yet another high-scoring project that might be helpful to the CLRC neighborhoods is a separate city-wide program to fill in missing sidewalks. If you live along the central Ralston Road corridor, you know where the missing sidewalks are.
WATER AND SEWER BILLS
At the budget retreat, some members of the Council were concerned about the impact of rising water and sewer rates in the coming years.
Both rates are scheduled for large increases for the next several years and people get reliably upset when they see bigger water bills. But the rate increases are beyond the City’s control. Like most Denver metro suburbs, Arvada buys its untreated water from Denver Water and has its sewage treated by an independent district. Both of those organizations are making heavy capital investments to increase capacity and they need to recover their costs.
The rate increases might become a campaign issue. A couple of the candidates for Council (Tomlinson and Williams) have been advocating using the City’s large one-time budget surplus to cover at least some of the rise to give rate payers a break. That’s pretty appealing. Others (including the outgoing City Manager) question the wisdom of that approach, saying that the sticker shock when that subsidy stops will just make things worse.
Also, diverting the surplus left over from old bond issues to reduce water rates might not be ethical or even be legal. The voters first approved much of those funds for capital improvement projects (new construction) and hiring more police officers, not for ongoing operational expenses.
Not much happened at the last Ralston Complex Advisory Group (RCAG) meeting on August 11th. The official meeting notes are still not out and we’ll post them as soon as they become available. The most recent meeting covered the new Arvada K-8 Park and the Apex move to Lutz/Stenger.
There were a number of design comments about the park. Our own representative on the advisory group, T.O. Owens, brought forward several K-8 concerns from the CLRC’s members, primarily concerning security fencing along Ralston Road. As T.O. put it “In fact several parents have said that they would absolutely not have their children in this park without fences along Ralston Road . . .”
The City’s parks designer, Mike Lee, said that Arvada typically doesn’t fence its parks, but that he would think about that request.
I brought up the issue of security and the Arvada Police not being able to see into the park when they patrol because of the planned berming. I suggested that the plans be reviewed by the Arvada PD for security concerns before being finalized.
As far as the Apex move from the Garrison Street park, the item of interest seems to be that the construction schedule has slipped due to the heavy spring rains we had. Assuming the weather holds, the new Lutz/Stenger indoor soccer facility at Oak and 58th is now not expected to open until December.
The official meeting notes should soon come up on
and you can read a recent article by Karen Groves about the RCAG and its scope at YourHub.com at this link:
The next RCAG meeting is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Thursday September 8th. The new park at Garrison Street and Ralston Road, the Garrison Street Bridge replacement and the construction of the new drainage channel from the Safeway to Carr Street. The meeting will be in the 3rd floor conference room and is open to the public, but since City Hall is closed at that hour, attendees will need to be escorted up from the police station entrance.
If I’ve got this right, the deadline for candidates to announce they are running for the City Council is this Tuesday, August 22nd, and we’ll soon know who’s running for what office. We’ll post an update here when we get that list. T.O. and I plan to offer interviews to each candidate who is running for City Council.
Don’t hope for hard questions. Basically, we plan to give the candidates a list of issues that our members have identified as being important to the neighborhood association and let them comment as they please. We have to live with whomever the people elect and this should be the candidates’ chance to look good.
The CLRC does not endorse candidates for office.
NEW CITY MANAGER
A farming community in California’s central valley may seem like a long way from Arvada, but Mark Deven’s selection as our next City Manager speaks well to his qualifications and the impression he made on the City Council during the selection process. There’s a YouTube video featuring Mr Deven at
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community will post more updates on our website at http://www.ralstoncommunity.org/ as they become available.