BY FREDA MIKLIN
On October 17, Greenwood Village City Council passed its 2023 budget, including an expected $6.4 million surplus in its general fund. That budget also included data that showed that, as of September 2022, GV anticipated collecting $4 million more in sales tax in 2022 than the amount contained in its most recent amended budget.
Residents of the Landmark Towers, who had hoped to be included in the city’s trash and recycling program beginning last January, again came to the city council meeting to try to find out why they continue to be excluded. One spoke. Kara Plender addressed the council, “I am a taxpayer, here tonight with other taxpayers who live at the Landmark Towers, to ask you to right a wrong. Currently, the Landmark Towers taxpayers are being unjustly denied the same trash and recycling benefits of other taxpayers in GV. We all pay the same mill levy. We’ve been told that multifamily communities are excluded from the trash and recycling benefits but that is false.”
She continued, “GV has served Roundtree (Townhomes) and Hermitage (Condominiums) for years, and has wrongfully discriminated against The Landmark in excluding us…In 2022, the city also began servicing Georgetown Townhomes and Caley Ponds, also multifamily units. We ask that this discriminatory practice stop and you begin (providing) recycling and trash services for the Landmark Towers.”
Plender pointed out that, “The 2023 general fund budget has a surplus in the millions,” then said that, since GV has refused to provide the same services to Landmark that it does to other multifamily communities, Landmark had asked Waste Connections, the city’s contractor for trash and recycling, for a proposal for the property. It was around $50,000 for a year. Noting that amount, Plender pointed out, “It’s not a money issue, when you have a surplus like that. We are purely being discriminated against. There is no reason or justification for excluding us. On behalf of the taxpayers in The Landmark, I am asking that the councilmembers from district two (Dave Kerber and Anne Ingebretsen) reconsider and make a motion to amend the (2023) budget to include trash and recycling services for The Landmark Towers.”
Plender continued, “It’s just wrong. We have about 271 units at The Landmark and 1.7 voters per unit. If this isn’t going to work, then we would like to have a refund of about $50,000 paid back to The Landmark so we can pay for trash and recycling.
Neither Kerber, Ingebretsen, nor anyone else on the council responded to Ms. Plender, nor made any mention about the issue she raised before they voted unanimously to pass the budget as originally drafted a short time later.
We previously reported on this issue last January, when over 150 residents of the Landmark Towers presented a petition to the city council asking to be included in the city’s trash and recycling program. At a study session on January 3, 2022, city staff told the council it would cost $30,000 to do so.
Council Member Anne Ingebretsen, supported the residents, telling fellow council members, “I’ve never been comfortable with the notion of different levels of services for different citizens,” noting that it creates “a feeling of inequity.” Council Members Donna Johnston, Judy Hilton and Libby Barnacle all questioned whether the city “could afford” to provide the service to the Landmark residents. Council Members Dave Bullock and Paul Wiesner did not agree that there was a question of whether it was affordable, but that, according to Wiesner, “Using equity as a criterion is a dangerous, bad path to go down.” The discussion ended abruptly when Mayor George Lantz asked the council whether they wished to proceed considering the question and Council Member Dave Kerber, along with Barnacle, Johnston, Hilton and Wiesner, who together comprise a majority of the eight-member city council, said no.