During its Wednesday meeting, the Mancos Town Board discussed whether members of the Planning and Zoning Commission should be paid for meetings they do not attend.
Right now commission members receive $50 for monthly meetings. But the commission canceled two meetings in 2017 because it lacked a quorum, so the Town Board appointed alternates to step in for absent members. Administrator Heather Alvarez asked the board to consider docking the pay of commission members who don’t attend meetings and paying the alternates who filled in for them.
Alvarez said the potential change in compensation would be in line with some past Town Board policies. Before 2012, trustees were paid only for meetings they attended. Before 2015, planning and zoning members were not paid at all. Alternates are still not paid for meetings they attend.
The commission has five regular members and needs three for a quorum.
Most board members spoke up in favor of paying the commission’s two alternates for serving on the board.
“If an alternate has taken the time to read the packet and shows up at every meeting, they ought to get paid to sit up here,” Mayor Queenie Barz said.
Not everyone agreed on what to do about absent commission members. Some, including Craig Benally, said they would support automatically removing compensation for the month for those who missed a meeting. Cindy Simpson said she would like to find a “middle ground” to avoid penalizing commission members who miss meetings because of emergencies. But she echoed the concerns of other board members who said something needs to change on the commission.
“Citizens that are coming through with requests are relying on them to show up,” she said. “I think that expectation needs to be clear that this is not a clubhouse. It’s not fun and games. It’s people’s livelihoods on the line.”
Several board members also suggested hostile attitudes and personality problems could be affecting the commission. Planning and zoning meetings regularly stretch past 10 p.m. and often involve heated arguments between members. Barz said she believed the meeting protocols adopted by the commission at its November meeting, would help with those problems. But Simpson and Mayor Pro Tem Fred Brooks suggested the town could do more to encourage better attitudes. Alvarez suggested the board consider holding joint workshops with the planning and zoning commission to exchange feedback.
Lorraine Becker said she thought the town should consider going back to the pre-2012 rules for trustees, so that they would only be paid for meetings they attend. Barz said the town board has not struggled to find a quorum the way the commission has, but Brooks said that could be an important topic for future discussion.
Alvarez said she would conduct more research on the town’s options for dealing with absent commission members, and present the issue for further discussion at a later meeting.
During the meeting, the Town Board also:
Held the swearing-in of Mark Adkins, former Cortez police officer, as a new deputy marshal.Approved a name change for The Beacon marijuana dispensary to LivWell.Discussed a request to change the terms of an agreement for the development of the Riverwood RV Park, with the majority of members speaking against the proposed changes.Passed a resolution authorizing the April 3 mail-in ballot election.Discussed a potential 3.1 percent increase in 2018 utility tap fees. The board will vote on the issue at its Dec. 27 meeting.