The Yuma City Council has passed the first reading of an ordinance dealing with cats.

It came before the council during its regular meeting last week in Council Chambers at Yuma City Hall. All seven council members were present, Mayor Joe Harper, Bethleen McCall, Steve Hoch, Dan Baucke, Ron Swehla, Luke Goeglein and Ryan Saffer.

The council has voted down a cat ordinance in the past. City Manager Scott Moore explained the revised ordinance was being presented again in an attempt to get grants to help control the community’s feral cat population.

He the ordinance has been revised in an effort to make it more palatable to cat owners. Moore acknowledged that enforcement of much of the ordinance would be difficult, but it needs to be on the books so the city can pursue a grant for a trap-and-neuter program.

McCall voiced concerns about one section that limits cat ownership to three, stating it is restrictive and also redundant with another part of the ordinance. Harper said he has the same concerns.

Citizen Duane Brown also spoke during the cat ordinance debate. He noted there is no comparable limitations on the number of dogs one can own, so there probably should not be one for cats. He also referenced a section about cats being on other people’s property, recommending it be taken out while speaking to the nature of cats versus the nature of dogs.

Goeglein said he has a stray cat issue in his neighborhood that is driving him nuts. Swehla said the trap-and-neuter program will help.

“My cats are spayed and neutered and I am going to vote no,” Harper said. “I don’t want my cats picked up at night (referencing the trap-and-neuter program).”

Moore said the trap-and-neuter program would cost between $35,000 to $60,000, but there are grants that will cover the costs, again stressing that is the reason for the ordinance. Swehla said he has had cat owners tell him they want something done because controlling the feral cat population helps the health of all cats.

A motion was made to pass the ordinance, with the parts mentioned above being taken out. It passed on a 5-2 vote with Harper and Hoch casting the dissenting vote. The second reading will come before the council at its next meeting, October 2. There will be a public hearing prior to the vote. One can read the full text of the ordinance inside this edition in “Public Notices.”

Transportation ballot questions

Yuma native Landon Gates, representing the “Let’s Go Colorado” campaign addressed the council about Amendment 110 on the upcoming election ballot.

He noted no one wants to ask for a tax increase, but added that the state legislature has failed to make transportation funding a priority, and that revenue from the gas tax is declining.

Amendment 110 calls for increasing the state sales tax by 0.62 percent for 20 years, raising it from 2.9 percent to 3.52. Gates said it would raise $767 million in the first year for transportation projects, with 45 percent going to the Colorado Department of Transportation, which will issue up to $6 billion of bonds for statewide transportation projects.

City crews pick up refuse in an alley in north Yuma as part of the annual fall clean up which concludes Friday. (Pioneer Photo)

Municipalities and counties each will receive 20 percent of the funds each year. Figures provided by Gates showed the city received $120,000 in Highway User Tax Funds (HUTF), in 2017, and Amendment 110 would provide an additional $149,000 to the city for transportation-related projects.

Yuma County would see a significant increase in transportation funding.

Gates said the other transportation-related ballot question focuses on the Front Range, while 110 benefits the whole state, including local government projects. He noted the Yuma County Commissioners, Yuma County Economic Development Corporation and Progressive 15 have passed resolutions in support of Amendment 110, and asked the city to do the same.

A resolution of support will come before the council at its next meeting. The only objection voiced last week was by Saffer, who said, “I won’t vote to support a tax increase, but if the council does, so be it.”

More meeting

• The second reading of an ordinance rezoning Baucke Funeral Home & Monuments property, and surrounding lots, from residential to commercial, passed on a 6-0 vote, and Baucke abstained. There was no comment during the public hearing prior to the vote.

• The second reading of an ordinance repealing sections of the municipal code dealing with loitering passed on a 7-0 vote. There was no comment during the public hearing. It has been noted the city has other laws on the books to address unlawful loitering. Following a recent court case upholding panhandling as a First Amendment right, municipalities have been making changes to their ordinances.

• The council voted 7-0 to keep its contribution to the Yuma County Economic Development Corporation at $10,000 in 2019. Council members said they are encouraged by progress being made by the YCEDC with Maggie Metzler as the director. Goeglein said she did a great job working with the West Yuma County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors on developing a strategic plan.

• The council agreed to put $41,000 in the 2019 budget as a match to a storm water grant being pursued by the city. Public Utilities Director Claude Strait explained the storm water plan is for the whole town, but with an emphasis on areas that were flooded during the infamous storm of June 2008. He said it will put the city in line for other grant opportunities as well.

• It was time for renewal of the CIRSA insurance. The coverage was the same for $119,536. The council approved renewal on a 7-0 vote.

• It was also time for CEBT health insurance renewal for 2019, with an increase of $33,451.20. The renewal was approved on a 7-0 vote.

• Payment of $94,928.03 to McCormick Excavation & Paving for the Third Ave. Project this past summer was approved.

• A total expenditure of $8,800 to Ritchey’s Redi Mix for work at the Pocket Park located by the water tower on S. Main and Sixth Ave., was approved.

• The council also approved with going forward spending $153,000 to refurbish the inside of the Main St. water tower and paing the outside.

• An executive session was held at the end of the meeting to discuss negotiations in regards to the purchase and sale of property. The meeting was adjourned without any further action after the council reconvened in public.