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Carbondale Report: 2022 wraps with raises

Locations: News Published

At their final full meeting of 2022, the Board of Town Trustees were all in attendance. There will be no work session on Dec. 20 and the Dec. 27 meeting will be brief and hosted on Zoom.

Following student of the month awards, a consent agenda was approved that included accounts payable, meeting minutes and liquor license renewals. During the “persons present not on the agenda” item, a person called “dj” on Zoom was unable to comment due to a technology glitch.

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Next, trustees gave updates about the Carbondale Chamber, wolf reintroduction public engagement, the Thompson Divide mineral lease withdrawal, air quality and oil and gas development, Coventure, English In Action and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. As always, the meeting is archived on the “Town of Carbondale” YouTube channel.

During the manager’s report, Lauren Gister announced that they are interviewing candidates for the town planner and building official positions. The building department will be closed the week of Dec. 26.

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The first big item on the agenda was a Major Site Plan Review for two buildings with seven townhomes on 12th Street. All seven are three-bedroom, for sale units. Of these, one will be deed-restricted for Category 2 AMI (www.bit.ly/CarbondaleAMI).

The proposal was seen to meet the code and received three public comments in support of multi-family housing. One feature that prompted dialogue was a motorized hatch system to allow rooftop deck access while adhering to the town’s 35-foot height restriction. “A very expensive solution,” remarked the applicant.

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Mayor Ben Bohmfalk mentioned the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan update recommending to amend the code to a three-story height limit, as opposed to 35 feet specifically. “I don’t see any negative impact to anyone if that goes up to 38 feet or something like that,” he said.

“And the cost of that could go toward a more green approach,” added trustee Chris Hassig, who noted the presence of gas lines in the plans. The proposal was approved unanimously.

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Trustees then took a final look at the 2023 budget. “People say you can see an organization’s values when you look at its budget,” said Bohmfalk. He pointed out that $1.69 million dollars is allocated toward the environment, including Eighth Street improvements and Crystal River restoration work, as well investment in the electrification of maintenance equipment and hybrid vehicles for the police department.

Other initiatives include an improved pedestrian crossing at Cowen Drive, design work for the Industry Way roundabout and a mobility study. In all, the 2023 budget anticipates over $12 million in general fund expenditures.

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Tree Board representatives then dropped by for their annual check-in. Chairman Dan Bullock praised the work of the maintenance department and town arborist, Carl Meinecke. He explained proposed revisions to the ordinance passed in 2002 and the need for a town tree inventory, last conducted in 2010.

This was followed by unanimous approval of an update to the Garfield County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan, first approved in 2012 and updated in 2017.

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Then, trustees reviewed salary adjustments to keep Carbondale competitive with neighboring municipalities. Jennifer Olson with Employer’s Council gave a presentation amounting to an average raise of 12.5% for town staff, a $763,000 annual increase already factored into the approved budget. The new pay structure was approved unanimously, along with amendments to the employee handbook that address vacation accrual and pay-out, overtime and COVID leave in alignment with the public health emergency set to expire in April.

The final topic of the night involved the Town Center Owners Association, joined by the town when it accepted donated lots surrounding the Thunder River Theatre late last year. This association is liable for the strip of land that serves as a promenade. The town, with 70% of the association’s voting interests, is considering the possibility of dissolving it and assuming responsibility for the promenade, which it already maintains. First, Gister is meeting informally with other members to discuss rights in the declaration and how to move forward.

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Tags: #12th Street #2023 #Ben Bohmfalk #Carbondale Report #Carbondale Trustees #environment #Tree Board
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