Council deals with community building issues, OK’s sheriff contract

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Alta City Council acted this week to raise the deposit rate for rental of the community building after problems with the condition some renters have left behind, and moved forward with an agreement to turn the building’s annex over to the VFW.

There have been lots of problems with the rental hall, especially after birthday parties. Some people have made no effort to clean up their messes, and in some cases, problems like holes kicked in walls have happened. The council decided the current $250 deposit is not enough to discourage such behavior, and the new rate will be raised to $400 deposit plus the $400 rental.

However, the city holds the deposit checks and unless there is a problem, does not deposit them, so the renters who treat the building properly can pick their check back up when done with their event or have it destroyed without having to pay the money. The higher deposit will only apply to new rentals, starting immediately, not those that had previously been booked.

The VFW has in the past been given free rental of the community building for events, but does not often need so much space, so the mayor had recently proposed giving them the annex room for solely VFW use. The veterans organization told the council this week that it agrees to the arrangement, though some details of access, responsibility for snow removal and possible added disability parking spaces remained to be worked out.

The council balked, however, at making it a “lifetime deal” that would bind future councils. The VFW, noting that it would like to make improvements to the space, didn’t want to do so under only a single-year contract, so a five-year arrangement was proposed, with both sides able to consider the use of the space again after that.

“You got pretty much everything you wanted,” Mayor Al Clark told the VFW representatives, who responded that they had tried not to ask for too much.

There was some disagreement over whether the VFW should continue to have free use of the larger community building area for two or three gatherings per year that it hosts.

Council member Denny Weber felt it would not be fair to the rest of the people of the community who would have to cover costs of utilities and cleanup. Council member Kevin Walsh, disagreed, feeling the veterans group probably struggles enough in their efforts.

An apartment in the building is vacant after being occupied for the past three years. Although it is in good condition, it may need an update, described as “a flashback to the ‘70s.” The council decided to start by hiring a professional cleaning to get the apartment ready for rental again.

In other city action this week:

• The council accepted an agreement to continue law enforcement coverage by the Buena Vista County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Kory Elston offered a five-year contract to allow the city to budget ahead - cost will be reduced from current levels to the point where even in the fifth year, expense would be less than the current amount, he said.

The sheriff’s department served 441 hours in the community in the past month, with a lot of time spent on a couple of ongoing criminal investigations, Elston said. The mayor thanked the sheriff for putting up signs to guide parking for a recent large cross-country meet, which ensured that if needed, emergency vehicles could have accessed the meet site.

• The Park Board reported that the fireplace in the City Park shelter will be removed, after repeated repair costs in recent years.

• The fire department reported a relatively mild month, with 18 calls and no major blazes. A recent Firemen’s Appreciation event raised enough money to purchase extractor and dryer equipment that has been needed to care for the department’s gear. While the department is slightly short on manpower, about a dozen applications have been handed out to potential new members.

• The library reportors that “Pete the Cat,” a popular children’s book character, will be a theme for events for the coming year. Pete made an appearance in the recent Alta-Aurelia Homecoming parade and was a hit with the children.

• Mayor Al Clark expressed some concern about the code enforcement position, feeling that a list of assignments he had prepared had not been addressed. He questioned the code officer on what he had been doing over the past month. “There are a lot of things out there that have not been taken care of,” he said, including some properties in bad conditions, and RVs being parked against city codes. The code office reported that an old church building will be torn down after lengthy delays, and plans are in the works for removal of a house on Lake Street that is in poor condition.

• The council reviewed several choices for a logo to use on city vehicles, as an alternative to the current city logo featuring wind turbines, which they felt is outdated. The council opted for a logo with an American flag, reading “City of Alta - established 1876” (though they will need to double-check the date in historical records.)