At a workshop on Wednesday, the Mancos Town Board discussed several things they want to add to next year’s budget. One was a new municipal code.
The workshop’s main purpose was to give the head of each department a chance to request budget items for 2018, ahead of the budget meetings the town has planned for the summer. Some requested items included a new police vehicle, a new filtration system for the water plant, funds to pave dirt roads and an upgrade to Town Hall’s telephone and online network.
But Interim Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said the budget also has to make room for an update to Mancos’ land use and municipal code, which she said are too confusing to meet the needs of the growing town.
“Our land use code is not user-friendly,” she said. “There are several areas that actively contradict each other. Our municipal code is not as bad, but there are several areas there that also need to be looked at. One area says the mayor votes, another says the mayor doesn’t vote – that kind of thing.”
It was last codified about 10 years ago, and board member Cindy Simpson said there have been numerous amendments since then. Alvarez said an update could give the town board a chance to fix existing problems and prepare for the future. Simpson suggested changing zoning and design regulations to make sure that if larger, big-box stores ever move into Mancos, they won’t disrupt the town’s old-fashioned image.
“You can have any kind of business as long as it’s legal, and just require them to make it look like how you want Mancos to look,” she said. “You just have to hold them to it.”
Alvarez estimated it would cost about $100,000 to update the code, making the second-most expensive budget item proposed so far, right after the estimated $110,000 for road improvements. But she said the town has no choice but to spend it. She added that she may not recommend hiring the same company the town went to for the last codification, since it has a history of leaving in typos and grammatical errors.
According to the latest Region 9 Economic Development District report, the Mancos population grew by 1 percent between 2010 and 2015, the largest growth of any town in Montezuma County.
Even though Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Watenpaugh’s request for road repair money was expensive, most of the board agreed the town’s roads need work. He said the priority roads for improvement would be Beech Street in front of Mancos Elementary School and Park Street. As for unpaved sections, he said Walnut Street is the “most ready road” for asphalt, since it already has a curb and gutter.
Watenpaugh also asked for $65,000 to purchase a new public works truck.
Parks Manager Terry Jennings requested $9,500 in matching funds for the playground equipment grant Mancos is seeking from Great Outdoors Colorado, in conjunction with the city of Cortez and several other organizations. Marshal Jason Spruell asked for about $70,000 for a new police vehicle, but he said some of the funds could come from selling two older vehicles. He also said he’s looking for a new deputy marshal. Public Works Director Robin Schmittel asked for $37,855 to upgrade the water treatment plant. Alvarez asked for about $17,000 to upgrade the town’s phone system to voice-over internet protocol, which would allow staff to make calls using the internet, and to expand the fiber room in Town Hall to accommodate more growth and security.
The board has scheduled its next budget workshop for 7 p.m., Sept. 6. Board workshops are open to the public.