City Council accepts AFR and discusses staff changes in public services – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

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Estes Park City Council met in person for its last meeting in August on Tuesday evening, and the topic of vacation homes and short-term rentals (STRs) was the hot topic of discussion.

To start the evening, the president of the Estes Economic Development Corporation, Adam Shake, read a letter of praise in honor of the director of community development Randy Hunt, who will be retiring in October of this year.

Additionally, Mayor Wendy Koenig has announced that she will be going on a fly fishing vacation this week and Mayor Pro-tem Martchink will serve in her place. Mayor Koenig will be back in town before the next city council meeting on September 14.

She said all members of her trip have been vaccinated except for an 11-year-old, who cannot yet be vaccinated.

During council liaison reports, Trustee Barbara MacAlpine informed council that following a discussion that began in April, the Estes Park Planning Commission approved a recommendation to city council that is to increase the height limit for downtown buildings in the development code from 30 to 42 feet. .

There will be more discussions on this issue in the future.

Change of public service personnel

The city council unanimously approved a reorganization of utility department staff that aims to alleviate a bit of the enormous workload placed on the department by the water division and the Trailblazer Broadband (TBB) projects.

“The Utilities department’s workload has increased with the addition of TBB’s ongoing implementation and operations and USDA-funded Water Division investment projects,” said the Director of Utilities of the city, Reuben Bergsten. “The staff were delighted to cultivate these improvements and initially absorb the additional workload; However, long hours are not sustainable, and staff often find themselves reacting to issues rather than proactively solving them.

The TBB project is now moving from the start-up phases to the scale-up and growth phases of its business plan. This resulted in more work on the utilities department.

The department’s unanimously approved reorganization will allow staff to meet current and ongoing project management needs and provide “must-have” project management across the department.

“This reorganization also helps us bring broadband utility operations in-house and under the direct supervision of the city, helping to ensure that broadband business operations, facilities and future needs of this utility are satisfied, ”said Bergsten.

The reorganization includes the transition of six positions to City employees.

“[This] will allow the city’s current overworked staff to focus on their core responsibilities and be more proactive, ”said Bergsten. “The reorganization will add a full-time employee, a utility sales manager and a senior fiber technician to provide direct and efficient day-to-day oversight of the fiber team through internal hire, which would not create a change in workforce. “

The net financial impact of the reorganization is at a cost of $ 57,800, and will come from a TBB fund and a Water 503 fund.

“This is the next step in what we have planned to do in our business plan,” said Bergsten.

Utility staff have also proposed hiring three time-limited contract support staff to complete grant and voucher-funded projects that have specific end dates for completion.

“Two positions will support the capital construction of our smart grid / broadband infrastructure, and one position will be a limited-term employee or consultant to support the Water division’s capital projects,” said Bergsten. “We will use the capital project funds approved by the Council for these time-limited positions. “

Additional office space will be needed, however, TBB’s new office has been purchased and refurbished to “accommodate new community-owned and operated broadband service,” Bergsten said.

Annual financial report

On Tuesday evening, the board of directors formally accepted an audit of Haynie and Company’s annual financial report (AFR). The audit met all requirements presented by federal and state laws, and covers both city operations and Visit Estes Park (VEP) as a required component unit.

“We have audited the financial statements of government activities, business-type activities, the discretely presented component unit, each major fund, and aggregate information on the remaining funds of the city of Estes Park,” says the audit.

The general tone of the “city’s economic assessment” is that the pandemic has hit hard, but Estes was able to survive the initial shutdowns and is on the fast track to recovery.

“As of March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic has arrived in Colorado. The state government’s first steps to slow the spread of the virus have resulted in short-term shutdowns for many local businesses, including the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park. Says the report. However, at the end of the year, sales tax collections for 2020 were only down 7.4% from the record collections of 2019. The local economy began to recover in 2021 with record sales tax collections for the first four months of 2021. ”

The cost of the audit was $ 5,500 under budget.

“The total fee for the AFR 2020 audit was $ 49,000,” said Hudson. “This corresponds to the amount budgeted for the audit of $ 54,500. “

Those familiar with finance may have noticed that the report commonly referred to as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, has been replaced by the simple AFR. It is always exactly the same report.

“The previous four-letter acronym, CAFR, is pronounced in the same way as a deeply offensive racial insult in South Africa most often associated with the apartheid regime,” said the city’s chief financial officer, Duane Hudson. “Moreover, the pronunciation is similar to a controversial meaning in Arabic for those who practice Islam. Out of respect, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) issued a policy statement earlier this year with the aim of eliminating the use of this acronym in the future.

While it’s the right thing to do, Hudson admits it will be a challenge to change a term that’s been around for so long.

“As a common term in use for 30 years or more, it will be difficult to break down old habits, but we are trying to do it,” said Hudson. “As a result, we have made changes to the pages of our website and will endeavor to remove this reference in the years to come. “

After unanimously approving the AFR for 2020, the Board of Directors unanimously approved the appointment of Haynie and the company to perform the same audit for the year ending December 31, 2021.

The 105-page AFR is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pG0afANQgGPVxuaT4gMOzP8PrQtW3lKP/view.

Executive session

At the very end of the meeting, the board of directors entered into an executive session for a conference with a lawyer, “with the aim of determining positions on issues that can be negotiated, developing a strategy for negotiation and / or instructing negotiators regarding water. Service agreement with the YMCA of the Rockies.

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