The Yuma City Council heard an update about Yuma County Economic Development during its regular meeting last week.
Mayor Ron Swehla, Mayor Pro-tem Marc Shay, and council members Dan Baucke, Jerome Benish, Tim McClung and Terri Frame were in attendance. Marylu Smith-Dischner was absent.
YCED Director Shelby Clark provided the update.
She reminded the council the YCED has been advertising the county in Colorado Life Magazine, but is transitioning to digital marketing to target the Front Range as it is a better use of funds. She said the focus is on finding Front Range businesses interested in expanding to Yuma County and ag tourism.
Clark reported she had been invited by the state to go on a trade mission to Argentina, where she visited with businesses that could potentially expand to Yuma County. One was a company that treats water that helps crops grow better and fight off bacterial diseases. Another company makes carbon fiber booms. Yet another company builds solar energy systems that allow for farming underneath the panels.
As for ag tourism, the effort continues to try to get more people to visit here. She said the YCED hosted a workshop on tourism last Friday, November 10, which was well attended with the focus on helping local businesses be better prepared for visitors.
The YCED is in the process of finalizing its new website. Also, the YCED has received funds for a grant writer, and it is also available to the county’s municipalities and other organizations that could use support in writing grants. The funds have to be spent by the end of 2024.
Clark also gave a report on a data tracking company. She prefaced it by saying she does not love it as a human being, but does love it in regards to economic development. The company was started seven years ago. It gave a presentation to her showing how many people went to the Yuma County Fair, where they came from and what businesses they visited while at the fair. The data also can be used to pinpoint the most-used roads in the county, as well as other information
She said there can be unlimited subscribers on one subscription, so she suggested splitting the cost among the county, municipalities and economic development. The subscription is $15,000 per year, or $10,000 per year if commit to two years.
The council told her they would have to visit about it before making a decision.
John Krajewski from JK Energy Consulting, LLC, provided an overview of a sanitation rate study the city hired him to do.
He said the current funding to the Sanitation Department’s enterprise fund is okay, but not sufficient to meet upcoming needs for a new trash truck and street sweeper. He showed the fund would be at a $139,000 deficit this year if the purchases were included, and a $168,000 deficit in 2024.
Krajewski said it would have been preferrable if the city had raised the sanitation rate by 50 cents per year for the last seven years.
As it is, he proposed a $3 increase for the typical residential customer in 2024, and another $3 increase in 2025, with the monthly rate going from $15 to $18 and then to $21. He noted that he pays $55 per month for trash service at his rural home in Nebraska.
Frame asked when was the last time the sanitation rate was increased. City Manager Scott Moore said the staff had visited about that, and it has been so long no one could remember.
• The council unanimously approved the liquor license renewal for Yuma Colorado Hotel LLC, which does business as Cobblestone Inn & Suites. It had been tabled at the last meeting because one of the listed owners had passed away earlier this year. However, City Attorney Kathryn Sellars said the city still can move forward but when that ownership stake is transferred to someone else, their name needs to be added
• The liquor license renewal for La Cabaña Del Amigo was approved on a 6-0 vote. The council was told the paperwork was turned in after the due date, but businesses can continue to operate if the paperwork is turned in and all fees paid within 90 days, which La Cabaña did.
• A resolution dealing with an intergovernmental agreement for lease and dispatch services with Washingon-Yuma Counties Combined Communications Center was approved. W-Y shares a building with the Yuma Police Department.
• A resolution dealing the challenged materials policy for the library was passed.
• An expenditure of $10,560 to pay an underground drilling company to replace a primary undergound along Fifth Ave. that recently failed was approved.
• Purchasing new meters that have a remote disconnect ability for $8,000 was approved by a 5-1 vote. Baucke cast the dissenting vote.
• The council approved the purchase of the Main St. clock for $8,415, which will be reimbursed by insurance funds.
• Moore and the council discussed doing a street survey, and accepting funds for affordable housing that will open up chances for grants in the community.
The council’s next meeting is November 21.