Gene Wieneke

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Criminal Actions

Running for elective office is usually a tiresome and challenging venture.  This campaign has been frustrating.  All of my yard signs were stolen recently.  In several instances my sign and that of my opponent, Carol Dodge, have been in the same block.  Hers still remain.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Northglenn's November Election

This month candidates for the City Council and Mayor will be gathering signatures for the November election.  I will be on the ballot for the Mayor's position.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Northglenn City Council To Create Nuisances

 Bee hives and backyard chickens are coming to your neighborhood.  The City Attorney has been instructed to prepare ordinances legalizing both.  Early next year your neighbors will be allowed to put both in their backyard.

The Council is spending 500K on consultants in order to make the community more sustainable for the future while improving it image.  The Council doesn’t see a conflict.

For the time being we’ll have to wait for the City Attorney’s proposed ordinances to see how he handles such things as free rooming bees, chicken droppings and the disposal of old chickens.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Back to Work

I'm finishing up eight years on the Northglenn, CO City Council November 2015.  The first four years were positive for the residents' well being.  The last four has seen just the opposite.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Light Rail Delayed 30 Years

The RTD Board of Directors has sent all of the North Metro's light rail lines south; literately and figurative. To make the matter worst, revenues from the existing tax are being diverted from the original build-out, which includes ours, to projects designated as “future extensions”.

Why has the RTD Board, including our local Directors sold us down the river? Hundreds of millions of Private Money. An international construction company, Kiewit Infrastructure, offered to participate in the construction and operation of a rail extension along I-225. The Board is now going through the bidding formalities. Additionally, a private developer offered to split the cost of an extension to the light rail line along south I-25.

The first pitch made to the north metro area was that the extensions would come out of the additional sales tax that RTD was going to seek in an election plus our existing tax. The Board backed off on seeking the tax increase but not on the requested extensions.

In 2009, three counties and twelve cities in the north metro area created a transportation alliance to monitor and advocate on our behalf. The group is referred to as NATA. They have been in the forefront seeking light rail service for the north and northwest areas but the big money is down south.

There is only one group that can save our light rail service and you know who that is; us! Telling the Board not to use our revenues for the extensions is easy: 303-299-2303 or

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Marijuana Ordinance An Emergency?

State law and local charters give cities the right to adopt emergency ordinances when circumstances demand that an issue or problem is addressed as soon as possible. An emergency, as defined by the charter, must be “for the preservation of public property, health, peace or safety.”

In considering a regular ordinance the charter requires that it be approved at two regular meetings. The public has the right to speak at a public hearing prior to the vote at the second meeting. By declaring an emergency the Council eliminates the residents’ right to speak at a hearing and the need for a second meeting is eliminated.

The Council has scheduled an emergency ordinance for the regular meeting this Thursday the 10th. The emergency? To regulate Marijuana Medical Dispensaries.

The City Attorney has been directed, and he will justify the emergency action. As you’ve seen the categories in the charter are broad and the final determination of what is an emergency is a legislative decision.

The owner of the Cricket store in the Garland Center is operating a dispensary out of a space connected to his store. For allegedly violating the city’s nuisance ordinance he has a court appearance on the 16th of this month. If a regular ordinance is considered, the second approval could not occur until the 24th.

Marijuana is legal in the State for medical purposes. Whether or not it should be dispensed in the city is the issue and it should be addressed as a non-emergency ordinance. The Council received the draft Tuesday evening and is expected to make the final decision in two days and one meeting without public input. For reference:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Now to Spend more than you Receive in Northglenn

In 2009 the City’s General Fund annual revenues were expected to be 9.8% higher than the amount received in 2000. The Fund’s annual operating expenditures were budgeted to be 48.7% higher than in 2000. In my research I found a consistent pattern for the intervening years.

During the tenure of Manager Landeck the General fund’s capital outlays were paid out of the annual revenues. A typical amount was $2-3 million per year. When the new City Manager, Phil Nelson, settled in, he changed the method in which capital outlays were funded.

Starting with him and continuing today, capital outlays are taken from the original $20.8 million in savings built up by Manager Landeck. By switching the capital expenses to the fund balance, it freed up millions each year for new operating programs and additional employees.

Now that we are minus $15 million and at our minimum fund balance, what does it mean for today? Capital outlays must once again come from annual revenues or the residents must approve the continuation of an expiring property tax this November. Cancelling capital outlays is not acceptable.

As a small positive, when the current Council adopted the 2009 budget, we reduced the General fund’s operating expenditures by $1.3 million compared to 08. This year the economy convinced the Manager and all Council members to make substantial, additional reductions.

In my opinion you should not be satisfied until the Council reverses Nelson’s policy and pays operating and capital expenses out of current revenues.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009 Budget Update

On February 8th I summarized the need for budget reductions as follows:

“We will be addressing the third error of $646,800 in the immediate future. A truly balanced general fund is only $1,523,449 away assuming the recession does not deepen and revenue projections hold. The Council and City Manager Simmons are poised and determined to make 2009 a successful year.”

On March 6th the Council met in a retreat setting at the Recreation Center to discuss budget reductions. The numbers above were revised by the new Finance Director prior to the meeting to $181,226 in place of $646,800 and $926,649 in place of $1,523,449. Utilizing newer information he was able to correct some omissions and over statements in the projected expenditures and revenues.

On the revenue side, the accrual figures for Jan/Feb’s Franchise Fees were included and the Investment earnings were reduced. Net gain of $29,000. The net Sales Tax receipts were increased by $9,500 and smaller increases in revenues were added.

On the expenditure side, accrued expenses were added to the Finance, Parks/Recreation and Public Works accounts amounting to $94,000. Other accruals listed on 1/29/09 were reduced. The anticipated 08 carryover funds to the Capital Improvement fund were added for an additional cost of $1,032,000. All of these expenses were offset by grant funds that were not included on 1/29/09. They will be received in 2009 but credited back to 2008 projects. The grant reimbursements amount to $1,442,816.

The discussion on the 6th gave the City Manager some ideas as to where reductions might be located. He is to report back to Council in the near future. Finding the money to make up the $181,226 could be easy considering we have a general fund contingency of $200,000 that is tentatively marked for other activities but not committed. Hopefully he will find other expenses that can be reduced as a result of some increased efficiencies.

After these reductions are made we will be back to where we thought we were when the 2009 budget was adopted on December 13th. The big hit we’ve already experienced in Sales Taxes during January is yet to be addressed; as is whatever lies ahead.

My solutions? The City is over staffed. Additionally, even during these times, it is still taking a Cadillac or Lexus approach to most projects and services. Call it downsizing or rightsizing; but it must be done.

In the previous seven years the general fund was balanced only once and that was the year the entire street program was cancelled, the voters turned down the first recreation building project and the Mayor was up for re-election; 2005. I want a balanced budget now and every year!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2008 in Review-The Disappointments

This week I would like to summarize some actions and policies that were not taken or instituted by the Council during 2008. Keep in mind that I have a much different perspective than the other members of the Council. At the same time, several share some of the disappointments.

The most recognized failure lies with the lack of development and return from the major investment in the vacant land between 120th and the recreation building. Two years ago, as a resident, I said that the firms the City engaged for the development were incompetent and did not have the horsepower. The City Manager and Attorney did not insert an end date in the contract.

What about the recreation building? Council hired the same company to analyse the building’s conditions for the third time. We’re still looking at over ten million dollars with no funding source available except voter approval of long term debt. The North Metro’s Fire Chief reviewed our report and issued a compliance order that will divert over $1.5 million from the general fund. More debt. An additional disappointment is that we haven’t even discussed what the long term plan is for the building.

Code enforcement still remains inconsistent and ineffective. We have a staff larger than either Westminster or Thornton and still, the big issue for years, remains. Staff works with residents in an effort to alleviate violations. Extension after extension has only led to frustration and anger from the neighbors. Council does not want to interfere with staff but when staff is ineffective, who can the residents turn to?

The Federal Community Development Block Grants are to be used for low-moderate income areas and individuals. The City receives $200,000 per year. During the last two years and this year we spent $100K in housing rehab with Brothers Redevelopment, a similar amount was used to pay salaries for code officers by the former city manager and $191K was given to NNDC for rehab work but returned.

The returned funds and balance of this year’s funds will be used to make elaborate improvements ($262K) to the Malley Street crosswalk and Highline Dr even though the traffic count does not even justify the passed over, $50K solution similar to what you see at the crosswalk on Huron, south of 112th. The last $150K will be used to hire a business to purchase and rehab one “empty” home for resale with the theory being that the process will be repeated from the profit. I offered several suggestions for the CDBG funds that directly benefitted low income individuals and neighborhoods to no avail.

All city charters, just like state constitutions, are adopted at a time that a particular body of thought exists with regards to its provisions. As the years pass, amendments are to be expected in order to address new issues and influences. Per State law the charter is created by an elected body of twenty-one residents. Last year we created a small review committee of half that number to evaluate provisions that might need revision and then sent them afloat without a compass or paddle.

Moving forward with a street side recycling program has been doomed thus far because it has been tied in with the quest for a one-man, polycart only refuse collection program. I tried to separate the issues by suggesting that the best way to evaluate resident usage and to get the program moving was to retain a private hauler to operate a city sponsored test program. With no real consensus I did not force the issue by scheduling it for a formal meeting and should have.

If I send you to Washington, what are you going to do for me and the country? Well, I’ll listen to all sides, interest groups, lobbyist, and federal employees and make the best decision on your behalf. The only real difference between that and city government is that we generally only hear from the employees, friends and a few motivated residents. The Council was forced to make some cuts last year to meet our minimum fund balance. As I stated in my last posting, we have many more to cut now. All of the cuts we made were suggested by the employees. Council did not have any ideas of its own advanced. It appears that the employees’ interests and yours are the same.

Other Disappointments: Staff is still determining what issues will be considered by the Council and when with rare exceptions. Rough service and program priorities have been established but the budget has not been changed to reflect them. Council’s operational oversight of operations has only increased from non-existent to minuscule. The only answer to our capital and maintenance needs is new debt and lots of it instead of limited debt repaid out of current revenues.

Know that your Council members are working together to address municipal issues and problems even though we have different values and perceptions of what YOU want. Remember what and who we listen to and don’t be afraid to let all of us know your priorities. Neither the employees nor you have a trump card but each has part of the deck.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

2008 in Review-The Positive

After one year as a member of the Northglenn City Council, I would like to summarize a few actions taken by Council that I feel are a positive change from the culture that has existed since 2001. With the addition of Ervin Baker and me, the three existing members who frequently called for change now had a majority on some key issues.

In January we reduced the City Manager’s unilateral spending authority in half and prohibited the hiring of a new Deputy Manager. The latter decision saved the city $138,000 per year and the first required the Manager to obtain Council approval for expenditures over $25,000.

A couple months later the Council shook up the staff when some members read and questioned the staff’s recommendation to rehabilitate the shoreline of Webster Lake. Staff had received a sealed bid in the amount of $47,558 in early December but recommended awarding the low bidder a contract for $183,943 for a greatly enlarged project.

When I and others questioned the staff’s recommendation on new financial software purchase, a very public debate incurred in the press and blogs. We were successful in obtaining new bids. Staff got their vendor and Council’s actions saved over $300,000.

As the two examples demonstrate, staff is now aware that some members of the Council are reading and evaluating their recommendations or as otherwise stated; fulfilling their responsibility to the residents. Some members of staff have embraced the new scrutiny and some have voluntarily left. The quality of the recommendations and the thoroughness of review have made for better governance.

In the second quarter of the year the Council conducted a two day retreat that resulted in the subsequent adoption of a Code of Conduct and Protocols for our relationship with each other and with the staff. I think the two most important and successful norms have been to not question each other’s motives and to debate, decide and move on.

On August 28th we unanimously finalized an ordinance that took back a delegation of authority that should never have been approved years earlier. The Council is once again in control of employee wages and all benefits. The question for tomorrow is whether we will use it or defer to staff’s recommendations. Salary surveys and wage increases have occurred each and every year while the City’s ability to pay without adversely impacting projects and services has yet to be considered.

We were also dealt a few lemons that the Council and staff addressed in a positive manner.

The 2007 Council adopted a budget for 08 that intentionally over spent the general fund in the amount of $5.9 million. In addition, (1) The finance staff forgot to account for the sales tax incentive payments previously committed that enticed three major retailers to the city. (2) The finance staff over estimated 08 sales tax revenues. (3) The finance staff did not adjust the starting balance in the 2008 general fund to match the audited yearend balance from 2007. The three errors by the former Finance Director and Manager amounted to an additional deficit of $2.0 million.

On the positive side, when Acting Manager Allen learned of the shortage he took immediate action with the concurrence of Council to cut 08 expenses successfully. With his and then Acting Manager Hayes’s help Council was then able to draft and approve a 2009 temporary budget that only over spends the general fund in the amount of $876,649. Even with this deficit we will remain above our self-imposed minimum of a 25% fund balance. The third error was not known January 29th and will be addressed, along with the recession during February and early March.

On October 23rd Mayor Novak and I sponsored a resolution recognizing the uncertainty of the economy and its potential impact on the City. With the recession at hand, the majority of Council members knew the budget we would be approving would require substantial modification in early 2009. In the resolution the employee pay plan and individual pay steps were frozen. Additionally, all hiring was frozen pending Council exceptions for budgeted positions and Council agreed to revisit the soon to be adopted budget during the first quarter of 2009.

We will be addressing the third error of $646,800 in the immediate future. A truly balanced general fund is only $1,523,449 away assuming the recession does not deepen and revenue projections hold. The Council and City Manager Simmons are poised and determined to make 2009 a successful year. Meanwhile, next week I’ll look back on the negative side of 2008.