City selling property; hosted Town Hall

The City of Yuma is in the process of selling the rest of the 70-plus acres it purchased a few years ago.
The Yuma City Council took two action items in regards to the “Church Annexation” property, located between Detroit Ave. and Indian Hills Golf Course, during its regular meeting last week.

First up was the first reading of an ordinance zoning the newly-annexed property. City Manager Scott Moore told the council it has been decided R-2 would be the most appropriate zoning at this time, and it could be changed in the future if needed.
The council approved the zoning ordinance on first reading, 6-0. Participating in the meeting were Mayor Ron Swehla, and council members Marylu Smith, Marc Shay, Dan Baucke, Daniel Ebersole and Tim McClung. (The vacancy on the council was filled later in the meeting. See below.)
Next up was the first reading of the ordinance approving the purchase and sale agreement between the city and Yuma Development, LLC. The 77.2 acres are being sold for $12,500, which comes out to $965,000.
A small section at the north end already had been split off and sold to the Jeff Armstrong Memorial Foundation, which is building an educational center for youth with special needs on that site.
The second reading of both ordinances will take place at the council’s November 16 meeting. A public hearing will be held prior to the second readings.

New council member and more
Steve Hoch’s recent resignation created a vacancy on the council. Two residents had submitted a letter of interest by the deadline, DeAnn Sewell and Terri Frame.
Frame was in attendance, and told the council she thought it would be an honor to serve. McClung noted she has been to several meetings and has shown a lot of interest.
The motion to appoint Frame passed unanimously.
Earlier in the meeting, the council approved a memorandum of understanding for the Colorado Opioids Settlement. Approving the MOU is required in order to move forward with disbursing the money. How the money will be disbursed locally will be determined at a later date.

Terry Frame is sworn in as the newest council member by City Clerk/Treasurer Karma Wells. (Courtesy Photo)

The council unanimously approved releasing the $12,500 in the 2021 budget for the Yuma Museum, which is moving forward with getting a new roof on the building. Museum Board President Monica King told the council the museum has received $10,000 from the Yuma Community Foundation, and $8,000 from Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Some of those funds are earmarked for interior work and equipment, but the rest can go toward the roof. The museum also has some of its own funds to go toward the project.
Shay, who represents the city on the NECALG board, reported to the council that ridership is up for County Express, but it is difficult having enough drivers.
McClung, who represents the city on the Yuma County Landfill Board, told the council to expect at least a 5-percent increase in fees in 2022. There was also a discussion about recycling.

Community members, the Yuma City Council and city administrators participated in a Town Hall meeting Monday night at City Hall.
The topic was the 2022 preliminary budget.
There were 10 residents at the Town Hall, and a few more listened in via Zoom.
The city’s sales tax increase ballot question was defeated in the November 2 mail-in election. Council members were asked how that will impact the 2022 budget.
It was noted the city had developed two different budgets prior to the election, one for if the sales tax passed and one for if it did not. Council members said there have been cuts, but it is workable for 2022. They said the real challenge is what to do in 2023 and beyond.
Keith Daugherty noted the Street Department was being cut by more than $800,000, while the Council Budget was being increased by nearly the same amount.
It finally was clearly explained that while the numbers are similar, they are unrelated. The Street Department budget is lower because chip sealing and other street projects done in 2021 are not included in the 2022 budget.

As for the increase in the Council Budget, that represents American Rescue Funds the city has received this year and again in 2022. The city has not spent any of the 2021 funds, and is being moved into the 2022 budget along with the funds the city will receive next year.
The city is still awaiting more guidelines before deciding how to spend the funds, which it has until 2024 to do so. Moore said the funds are in the Council Budget because it will be the council that decides how the money spent. The expenditures will be itemized when those decisions are made. Moore said his recommendation is to spend 2022 figuring out how to spend the federal dollars, then spend it in 2023.
It was asked why the code officer/dog catcher no longer is in the budget. It was explained that the code officer position has been moved into the Yuma Police Department, and now serves as a sworn officer.
City leaders were asked why the part-time position at the Yuma Community & Enrichment Center receives $34 per hour, up to 54,000 in a year. Moore explained that the decision was made to change the scope of the facility, and Lonnie Metzler bid for the job, and received it because she has the skills and knowledge to make it work. However, COVID shutdowns did not allow the plan to get fully off the ground, but now is starting to get there as things open back up.
Frame asked about $35,000 in the Airport Budget for repairs and maintenance. Moore explained the city received COVID funds of $42,000 for the airport, and work on the hangars, asphalt and electrical system seemed to make the most sense.
Frame also asked about the painting project of the north water tower, with an estimated cost of $450,000. Moore said the city was shocked when it received the estimates. He said the Main St. towaer was done in 2019 for about $150,000, and the estimate at that time for the north tower was around $300,000. However, costs have increased significantly since. Moore said the city received two estimates and both were similar.
Kathi Glanz noted the City of Yuma is fully responsible for the Yuma Ambulance Service. She asked if there was some way for parts of the county could help pay for the service. She was told that has been discussed — such as a cooperative agreement with Yuma District Hospital, and Yuma and Washington counties, or create a voter-approved ambulance district.
It also was mentioned, though, that neither will probably happen because the other entities also are facing difficult financial situations.
There was some discussion again about how front office salaries are split up among different departments. It was done a few years ago to help ease the burden on the General Fund, with portions of those salaries being covered by Enterprise Funds, since the front office personnel work with those departments also. Daugherty was asked about the transparency. It was mentioned the overall salary for, example, the city manager is the same, just spread out, and those splits can be found on the explanation pages, though it does take some digging.
The public was encouraged to keep asking questions, and the city will do its best to get the answers to them in a timely manner.
The council members emails, and the city manager’s, can be found on the city’s website.