No more Mr. Nice City when it comes to people knowingly and illegally feeding wildlife in Woodland Park.
On Thursday, Woodland Park City Council approved a new ordinance prohibiting the feeding of wildlife, including deer and other “dangerous animals,” and setting stiff penalties for repeat offenders. Some councilmembers thought the penalties were excessive but others said they have to be high to get people to change their behavior.
Police Chief Miles De Young said his officers have a lot of discretion when it comes to enforcing wildlife-feeding laws. People would first receive a warning and education on why feeding wildlife is a bad idea. There is also educational material available to help people feed birds safely without attracting deer and the bears and mountain lions attracted by large numbers of deer.
After a warning, officers can issue a citation based on the state fine of $70.50 per offence or they can issue a summons based on the city ordinance, which sets a minimum of $350 for a first offence, $450-$550 for a second offence and up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail for a third offence.
“I would rather curb this behavior than to have a hunt,” De Young said.
City Attorney Erin Smith said other city ordinances that have penalties give a judge the discretion to set a maximum of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail, but do not set minimum penalties.
“We try to get voluntary compliance first,” said City Planning Director Sally Riley, “Our first contact is for information and education. If that doesn’t work then we issue a summons.”
Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr, Councilwoman Hilary LaBarre and Councilman Paul Saunier voted no but the ayes had it.
Council and city staff have been working on the 2019 budget for months, holding work session after work session to iron out the wrinkles. At their Nov. 15 meeting, councilmembers approved the new budget on initial posting and set the public hearing for Dec. 6.
The budget process included the approval of three ordinances on initial posting:
• The creation of a Special Lodging Tax Fund to account for the collection and expenditure of lodging taxes and a Special Conservation Trust Fund to do the same thing for conservation trust revenue. Revenues for these funds can only be used for specific purposes.
• The final supplemental appropriations for the 2018 budget, including appropriating funds into the two new special funds and covering cost overruns caused by the Downtown Development Authority lawsuit, the city manager search and police overtime.
• The first appropriation of funds for the 2019 budget, including $11.035 million for the General Fund.
The complete breakdown of funds for each of these ordinances is available at city-woodlandpark.org.
The final piece of the budget process was setting the city’s mill levy for another year through a resolution. The mill levy has been set at 16.249 mills since 1991. The only hiccup to the process came when Mayor Pro Tem Val Carr asked that the mill levy be lowered to an even 16 mills as a gesture toward lowering property taxes.
The city’s mill levy currently ranks in 90th place among 270 Colorado municipalities and the average mill levy statewide is 13 mills. Several audience members and a few councilmembers were in favor of lowering the mill levy immediately but others were concerned that if would be reckless to lower it at this time without considering the impact to the city’s budget.
“Reduction is important but to do it in this manner is irresponsible,” Councilwoman Kellie Case said. “This should have been brought up at the beginning of the budget season.”
Taxes can always be lowered but raising them takes a vote of the citizens, according to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Council defeated a motion to table the resolution to the Dec. 6 meeting so that city Finance Director/Treasurer Mike Farina could develop a report and approved the resolution by a vote of 5-2 with Carr and Councilwoman Hilary LaBarre casting the no votes.
Council also approved an amendment extending the 2009 Woodland Station and Disposition and Development Agreement to Dec. 1, 2021.
Arden Weatherford, who recently won a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the authority, told council to trust its lawyer and extend the agreement but not to expect much from the Downtown Development Authority.
Tony Perry of Park State Bank & Trust said the city is extending grace to the authority, which has made some progress, but that grace should come with higher expectations.
Weatherford’s partner, Steve Randolph, who was the mayor when the original agreement was approved, read a letter into the record stating that the new agreement should have consequences if it isn’t met. He also called for the resignation of authority Treasurer Tanner Coy.
“Why are you here if you won the lawsuit?” Sawyer asked. “Why are you continuing to go after the DDA? … The DDA is doing the best it can.”
Authority Board Chair Merry Jo Larsen said a lot of false claims are being made but the truth can be found in the lawsuit documents, which are public record.
“We are ready to move forward,” she said. “We have a positive plan.”
“My focus will be getting us (the city and the DDA) on the same page,” said Mayor Neil Levy, adding, “… At some point we need to put these things behind us. Let’s be part of the solution; let’s work together.”
Teller County’s Assessor-Elect Colt Simmons introduced himself to council and said he plans to come to council with quarterly reports.
“I will take a personal interest in the DDA,” he said. “I’m a Rocket Guy. We put people on the Moon and we’re going to Mars — we can get this done.”
Council approved a major subdivision, Paradise of Colorado, and accepted a new road, Locklin Way. This 20-acre tract was owned by Park State Bank & Trust but is now owned by North Peak Properties, LLC. Streets, retaining walls, the water tank and a detention pond have been deeded to the city. The property owner will increase the detention pond’s capacity by 5 percent to meet new drainage codes.
• Linda Martin of the War Dog Memorial gave plaques to Police Chief Miles De Young, K-9 Officer Tim Bradley and his partner Rico for making two drug busts. The memorial is being constructed in Colorado Springs and will honor dogs serving to protect the country and its citizens, including military dogs, police dogs, guide dogs and service dogs. “Fur Heroes,” Martin called them.
• Jan Wilson, vice chair of Keep Woodland Park Beautiful, presented the organization’s annual report showcasing its programs and accomplishments in 2018.
• Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Chairwoman Karla Scheitzer gave a Parks, Trails and Open Space presentation that highlighted a new master plan.
• Lynn Jones from the Main Street Board invited all to attend the Nov. 24 Shop Small Businesses event, which kicks off in downtown Woodland Park at 9 a.m. Levy read a proclamation declaring Nov 24 as “Small Business Saturday” in Woodland Park.
• Carr read a proclamation declaring Dec. 2 as the Woodland Park Wind Symphony 25th Anniversary Day. The Wind Symphony will celebrate with a reception from 6-7 p.m. followed immediately by a concert.
• On Oct. 30, the Teller County Victim Advocate Program under the direction of Coordinator Erika Vida, was awarded this year’s Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance’s Outstanding Organization/Victim Services Program Award. “This is a really big deal,” said Police Chief Miles De Young.
• Community Investment Fund applications are available on the city website. Previous applicants will receive a new application by mail.
• Dalton’s new film about Woodland Park’s urban deer population was accepted for showing at the Badlands Film Festival.