Durango, CO: Councilors on Tuesday discussed potential recommendations for changes how the municipal court operates, in part after community concerns have been raised about an increase in illegal camping along the Animas River near Roosa Avenue.
In a presentation made to councilors, Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer and City Clerk Faye Harmer pointed out that around 62% of all the Durango Police Department cases are filed in municipal court. Approximately 80% of all cases result in a disposition of dismissed, deferred sentence, or deferred sentenced with dismissal. To deter repeat offenders, police and city staff are recommending council investigate making changes including revising warrant language and issuing warrants after first failure to appear with a monetary bond.
Councilors expressed their appreciation for the police department efforts, as well as working the court to get feedback from the court on improving the process. Councilors supported an interdepartmental group to further address the recommendations and report back to council.
Councilors meet on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.
In addition to the discussion on recommendations for the city's municipal court, at the study session that began at 2:15 p.m., councilors also:
- Held a discussion with Budget and Strategic Plan officer Devon Schmidt regarding monthly financial reports. "Financial transparency takes on a lot of different aspects and doesn't just center on making a financial report available to review," said Schmidt. "Each governmental entity has to weigh what type of information is most beneficial to publish for the public and how the public will interpret the information provided." The monthly reports: Are interactive to allow the public to view reports and additional information through the transparency portal; include metrics so council is aware what areas may require intervention; provide a narrative that helps put the financial information into the proper context, and; review fund balances that are reported to Council and public.
- Were informed that Finance Director Cynthia Sneed has decided to retire. Councilors were appreciative of Sneed's efforts, which included coming on board as the city was dealing with embezzlement of public funds by the previous finance director Julie Brown. Under Sneed's tenure the city has implemented its Opengov financial platform, instituted additional internal controls, and been awarded the Government Finance Officers Association award for excellence in financial reporting.
During the regular meeting that began at 5:30 p.m., councilors:
- Received an update from partner Table to Farm Compost on a market study conducted during the past few months. The study offered free composting service to residents for a three-month period. Table to Farm found that most residents viewed composting as an easy habit to adopt, but the main barrier was the cost of continuing service. Table to Farm reported that over half of participants in the study acknowledged that they would continue service now that the study has ended.
- Received an annual report for 2022 from the Durango Police Department. “With the support of the City Council, the Durango Police Department has found success in many areas during 2022 which include reducing overall crime and accidents while meeting the growing demands of our community,” said Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer.
- Received an update from the Coordinating Council on Homelessness asking to consider reorganizing the city and county humanitarian effort in a way that would allow for a full-time position that could help coordinate housing services.
- Received a quick update from Public Works Director Allison Baker on fast-acting city street crews, who as of Tuesday afternoon have filled more than 200 potholes. "I want to thank you and thank your team for your quick transition from snow plowing to filling potholes," said City Manager José Madrigal.
- Approved an intergovernmental agreement with La Plata County to jointly fund the reconstruction of County Road 250 and 251. The city and the county have worked together on design and construction plans for the project, and reconstruction will cost the city and county an estimated $3.5 million. The reconstruction aligns with the city’s strategic plan goal to build an effective infrastructure network. "This is so great to see come to fruition after years and years working with the county," said councilor Melissa Youssef. "I think it's a really good example of the collaborative work that we're doing together."
- Introduced an ordinance to approve an easement for La Plata Electric Association, which has requested an extension to an electrical utility line to support the new terminal expansion at the Durango-La Plata County Airport.
- Went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of city property consisting of approximately 62,000 square feet located at the corner of Camino del Rio and West College Drive. No action was taken after councilors left executive session.
- Went into executive session to receive legal advice from the interim city attorney regarding a lawsuit filed by John Simpson.
City Council meetings may be attended in person at City Hall, 949 East 2nd Ave., or virtually. Meeting links for virtual meetings are at DurangoGov.org/Zoom. Meetings are televised live on YouTube, via Zoom and on the city's website (click on "Live Media"). An email link for public comment is located at DurangoGov.org/meetings at the top of the page as well as on the agenda itself under Public Participation. Comments must be submitted no later than noon on the Monday preceding the meeting. If comment by email is not possible, comments may also be placed in the drop box located in front of City Hall no later than noon on the Monday preceding the meeting. All written comments will be provided to the Council for review. Written comments may be read into the record and/or attached to the minutes of the meeting at the direction/discretion of Council. Email comments should be directed to: PublicComment@durangogov.org.
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