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City of Fountain Exploring Single Hauler Trash Program, IGSAs with Fort Carson

 

Last updated 7/10/2019 at 2:16pm | View PDF



At it’s June 25 meeting, the Fountain City Council heard a presentation from City Attorney Troy Johnson explaining what going with a single hauler trash program in the city would look like and why it could be beneficial.

Note: there will be a public meeting on this discussion July 17 at 6 p.m. at city hall, hosted by members of the city’s Roadway Focus Group, who came up with this idea. Engaging the public is a high priority for such a big undertaking that could have some positive effects if implemented.

Johnson said that the city would accept bids from any interested trash hauling companies, and as such, expects that local residents would see discounted rates compared to what they are paying now.

Damage to local streets is the main reason for this proposal. It was explained that when a trash hauler hits its brakes, that causes the truck to dig into the concrete. Pictures were shared to show how this damage is often on one side of streets, due to the giant heavy trash trucks.

Other “pros” on the subject include lowered prices due to competitive procurement, reducing environmental impacts, recycling opportunities, reducing nuisance and possible partnership with Fort Carson. Johnson gave a presentation based on the homes in the cul-de-sac where he lives in Fountain, pointing out there are several different trash pick up providers that enter the street during the week. He explained with eight houses on the cul-de-sac, he estimated residents making regular trips in a week would total about 224 passenger trips a week. He said one truck using the street would be the equivalent of 1,300 passenger trips. As there are six trash companies in use by residents on his cul-de-sac that truck traffic is the equivalent of 7,800 trips a week.

Regarding possible “cons” related to the proposal, Mayor Gabe Ortega commented about the perception of taking choice away from residents, to which Johnson explained that if a citizen wanted to continue using their trash service (if it didn’t get the contract) that any trash haulers could apply for a permit to enter the city and perform said services.

Ortega also pointed out Manitou Springs does this and said, “I like the idea, if it saves money, why not?”

Johnson said state law requires six months of notification to residents, but believes it would be longer than that due to a potential agreement with Fort Carson (explained below). As such he said January, 2021 would be the tentative start date.

City Eyes Partnering

With Fort Carson

Following up the discussion on the single hauler system, City Manager Scott Trainor and Community Engagement Manager John Trylch presented a new idea to the city council, in which the city could partner with Fort Carson using Intergovernment Support Agreements (IGSA), whereby the city could explore providing certain services to Fort Carson, for example, trash hauling, pest control and smaller construction contracts.

Trainor explained the city is a member of the Association of Defense Communities and has said this idea is working elsewhere, helping to show resiliency and reliance on the local community for other military bases. It’s a step toward “BRAC-proofing” communities, he added. He cited how the city of Leesville, LA built a new city hall with proceeds from their partnership with a base there.

Trylch said some of the services the city could potentially partner with Fort Carson to provide some services that are performed through contracts, could include ground maintenance, trash service, bulk equipment purchases and more. The city could potentially reduce the costs to Fort Carson and the city would receive a monetary benefit to help provide these services.

Councilmember Sharon Thompson asked how the contractor would be paid since the federal government is known for taking a long time to do so, and Trylch said the contractor would be invoiced by the city and given a net 30 days before interest starts accruing. The contractor would be paid by the city and the city would be reimbursed when Fort Carson paid. The city would use a competitive bid process to obtain contractors.

Trainor said that future plans related to the IGSAs would call for adding additional personnel and purchasing more city equipment.

Mayor Ortega asked when council might see a completed agreement and City Attorney Johnson said timing is crucial and staff is still working on contract content. He said by July or August the council could see more information.

It was explained the city’s Roadway Focus Group would actually be the ones to select who would get the contract after a bidding process is completed.

Discussion About Trains Stopped at Intersections Continues

Also during the meeting, the issue of trains parking and blocking local intersections returned for discussion. Councilmember Greg Lauer said he was upset about trains blocking intersections for hours. (He was not in attendance at the previous council meeting during which this topic was raised by concerned resident and citizen scientist Deborah Stout-Meininger.)

Lauer began his comments by stating, “I think there is a conspiracy a foot.” He said he was aware of 11 different times the trains were stopped blocking intersections.

Deputy City Manager Todd Evans and City Engineer Brandi Williams explained they has been working on a better way of communicating with the railroad and building a relationship to foster this. Williams said the city is trying to work with the railroads to get the Duckwood railroad crossings completed so that new intersection can then be opened. Evans added they are indeed trying to work with the railroad on two fronts- to get the new crossings completed and also to address this issue of trains blocking intersections. He did say he learned one of the most recent times this happened it was due to a mechanical failure on the train. He also stressed how much it helps when the public calls and complains directly to the railroad (add #s here.)

Evans said it’s not a search and destroy mission, adding “we have to live with them. I want to build relationships.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Phil Thomas said if other communities are experiencing the same issue then maybe we should rally together to get the train companies to hear our complaints.

Councilmember Thompson said she would be meeting with Senator Gardner soon and would be glad to hand-deliver a letter on this subject to him.

Mayor Ortega said the Duckwood intersection should have been done by now but added that he was aware UP Railroad had major layoffs and were affected by national disasters including flooding in the Midwest.

Citizens Deborah Stout-Meininger and Gordon Rick both addressed council on the subject.

Meininger share her history of dealing with the railroad when this was happening a few years ago and the steps she took to help get it corrected. She said at that time negotiations included: no trains could exceed 150 cars (engines did not count.) When stopping on tracks within Fountain City limits due to shift changes that do no allow personnel to remain on the train and the end of shift (per union rules), trains were to be split over crossings, with guard rails up and lights off to allow normal passage of traffic. She also said the police and fire departments were to be notified how long “unmanned” engines and cars were to be parked on the tracks before a new crew comes to take over (which was regularly 1-4 hours once or twice a day.) If a train or track had a train or track hazard, malfunction or accident, police and fire were to be notified immediately.

She said that splitting the trains to avoid blocking intersections was sufficient for a while to circumvent safety issues of concern to city emergency services, buses, school buses, cars, delivery services and pedestrians.

Meininger referenced Colorado Springs effort to “encourage” BNSF railroad to give up their rights to a railroad yard downtown and El Paso County Commissioner, Colorado Springs Utilities and City of Fountain’s ambitious push to use BNSF railroad access over Hwy. 25, currently used daily for Coal fuel deliveries to the Ray Nixon Power plant as a portal for a possible industrial rail park in southern El Paso County, as reasons railroad workers and engineers might abandon what voluntary cooperation had been won previously.

Meininger also suggested the need for a community “railroad safety first” program for school aged children (and adults?) about what to do and NOT do when encountering parked trains.

“We can no longer play “Russian Roulette” between the railroads and safety of our children,” she concluded.

Gordon Rick suggested the city contact the federal government and possibly the TV media to get attention. He said it is happening more frequently and was curious about what the cause could be. He also said that locations like the area of the Mesa Road crossing near Hwy. 85/87 that is nice and flat is the type of place crews prefer for swapping staff.

Councilmember Jim Coke said that with the Rio Grande railroad such things were done in the rail yard. He also mentioned the continuing problem at the crossing on Comanche Village and Rustique, and said cars continue to make illegal u turns due to the barrier that was installed related to the Quiet Zone requirements.

To conclude the discussion on a light note Lauer chuckled and said “Thanks for not saying ‘we’ve been working on the railroad all the live long day…”

Fire Chief Gives Update

In other business, Fire Chief James Maxon gave a presentation to the council regarding initiatives of the department including a paging system, automatic vehicle location and cancer risk prevention. He also gave details on current call volume and upcoming changes planned. He praised his paramedics and said protocols in use and medicine are cutting edge.

He said initiatives started in the past 90 days including a new paging system that is directed at Fountain’s three departments separately (so staff at stations not activated are awakened.) He also explained the auto vehicle location dispatch program allows, for example, if Engine 3 is near city hall it will be dispatched right away if there is an emergency call there. He also said an ambulance was moved from Station 3 to Station 2 to help provide quicker response to calls on the east side of the railroad tracks. He also said they are working with firefighting foam (opposed to just using water) and it does not have any PFAS in it. Maxon said ideally they need 16 staff members when responding to a structure fire, pointing out at present the city has 12 who do.

He agreed the city needs a Station 4 for the southeast side of the city and said he bases the need (as well as other department needs) on data driven decisions. He said the ideal sight would be near Link and Circle C Roads.

He also informed council that Battalion Chief Mike Orr “retired two weeks ago.”

The council also voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Wellness Wishes, Inc. a non-profit organization that focuses on collecting insurance payments that have not been made.

Greg Brown, a representative of the non-profit who was formerly a Colorado Springs firefighter until he was injured ending his career, said they are currently working with 12 fire and EMS departments in Colorado. There is no cost to the city to participate.

Brown said Wellness Wishes, Inc. is not a collection agency but rather a non-profit that works to get improperly denied and unpaid balances and said there is an algorithm built in to the system to get insurance charges denied.

Council unanimously approved the resolution to participate.

Mayor Pro-Tem Urges City to Do More to Support Local Businesses

Mayor Pro-Tem Thomas also voiced his interest in seeing more support for local businesses. He said the city could start helping by highlighting more about what we have in the city. He said he recently went to PPIR with Deputy City Manager Evans and said the owner put in over $100,000 for a recent event and talked of investing up to “a quarter of a million dollars” for an upcoming event. “there are a lot of avenues we can use to help people in the city of Fountain-like links from the website and Facebook.” He said the Thunder in the Valley Car Show (which is this weekend at Metcalfe Park) is another event the city could help support, for example. He also said the Academy Highlands Shopping Center has seen a car wash and Freddy’s Burgers added and said neighbors didn’t know that Fountain went that far north.

Trylch said there is a master calendar on the city’s website for larger community events and links are available. He said news articles on the main page can be used to highlight events. He also said that since PPIR is a Chamber of Commerce member they will help publicize the events as well.

Mayor Ortega responded, saying “I guess you didn’t see my commercial, and explained it was on KXRM and cheaper than print advertising even.”

part of the consent agenda, the council approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of two properties at 700 North Santa Fe Ave., from First Select, Inc. of Nevada, in the amount not to exceed $30,000.00

The property owner had been contacted by Fountain’s Water Utility which had identified these properties as part of the route of the Raw Water Main that transports water from Fountain’s Well #4 to the proposed Comprehensive Water Treatment Plant in Aga Park. According to staff, the property owner was not amenable to an easement agreement but did agree to sell the properties to the city, at a sale price of $25,500.

 

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