Small city governments face same challenges as larger cities

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Posted Tue, Apr 1, 2014

(L-R) Tara Beiter-Fluhr reviews a bill as Mayor, Dallas Hall introduces it to the Sheridan City Council on March 10.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

(L-R) Tara Beiter-Fluhr reviews a bill as Mayor, Dallas Hall introduces it to the Sheridan City Council on March 10. [Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

SHERIDAN, Colo. — Don Smith has lived in Sheridan for more than 30 years.  He’s worked construction through boom and bust cycles for most of that time.  Now, the work has shifted to where there’s plenty of gas and oil, so he follows the work, often living in extended-stay type motels.  Motels that he says, are also struggling to make ends meet.

So, when the Sheridan City Council discussed an ordinance regarding hotels, motels and extended-stay hotels on March 10, Smith asked for clarification.   Smith said he wanted to better understand the city’s position and to be sure the city was not planning to prohibit them here.

City Manager, Devin Granby, said ordinance 3-2014 is not intended to avoid certain uses, but is just defining the distinctions between motels, hotels and extended-stay hotels – because it impacts the city’s tax revenues and zoning districts.

Granby said that once residents stay more than 30 days, the city can’t collect sales tax, and those businesses fall under different zoning regulations than those offering shorter stays.

He said there is no plan to eliminate existing extended-stay hotels.

The existing language says, “It allows people to stay on a more or less temporary basis,” said City Attorney Mary Lynn Macsalka.  “That is about as squishy and ambiguous and not helpful as it can be.”

Monday evening was the second reading of the ordinance; it was unanimously approved.

In other business

(L-R) Sheridan City Councilmen Gary Howard and R. Landau deLaguna cast their votes on a measure before the council March 10.  Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu

(L-R) Sheridan City Councilmen Gary Howard and R. Landau deLaguna cast their votes on a measure before the council March 10. [Photo by Melanie J. Rice • mrice20@msudenver.edu]

The city approved a new 10-year franchise agreement with Comcast to provide cable services to Sheridan.

The agreement gives Comcast use of right-of-ways in the city and entitles the city to five percent of its gross revenues generated in the city, or about $45,857 annually.

During discussion, councilman Landau deLaguna said some residents were concerned that towers may be sprouting in their backyards as a result of the contract.  But Granbery said Comcast would need to go through standard permitting process before any towers could be erected.

Service issues get resolved more quickly in Sheridan, because it’s smaller, deLaguna said.  In a large city like Denver, they have to go through tiers to get problems fixed.

Though small cities such as Sheridan may have some advantages over larger cities, they face many of the same challenges.

2014_0310_Meeting0003“When you get on city council, you start out and you think you know your problems on your block, and your neighbors.  But once you get on city council, you realize things like Comcast matter, attorneys and protocol,” deLaguna said.  “You learn so much.”

When the city refinanced its bonds, deLaguna said he had to go to Boulder to learn financing because it was so complicated.

“Most of the law in the country begins here – at the city council, and then it works it’s way up.”

After the close of the meeting, the city staff and council members bid a fond farewell to Macsalka, who will be moving to Alaska.

 

OTHER ITEMS DISCUSSED:

  • Conditional use permit granted to church for property on W. Oxford Avenue
  • Resolution approved appointing Clifford Mueller to the Board of Adjustments

 

NEXT MEETING: March 24, 2014

WHEN: Work Session 6 p.m.
City Council Meeting 7 p.m.

WHERE: Sheridan Municipal Center
4101 S. Federal Boulevard
Sheridan, CO 80110

Minutes and agendas can be found at this link:  http://www.ci.sheridan.co.us/Archive.aspx?AMID=36

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About Melanie J. Rice

Melanie Rice is a journalism student at MSU Denver, with an emphasis on both visual and written content.

View all posts by Melanie J. Rice

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