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Ignacio town branding effort starts

Must reflect the community, town trustees say

Ignacio's town branding and marketing effort has started.

Consultant Kristin Cypher has been meeting with community stakeholders, Interim Town Manager Mark Garcia told the town board on March 15. The town web site (www.townofignacio.com) will have a link to a community survey, and paper copies will be available at town hall for those who don't do computers.

A community workshop is scheduled for April 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the school district administration building, Garcia said.

Trustees stressed that the branding must come from the community, not an outside consultant.

Mayor Stella Cox suggested having the consultant create a town flag that could fly with the U.S. and state flags, "to say 'This is who we are.'"

Trustee Tom Atencio responded, "Open it up to the high school art classes. That would be more personal than someone from out of town."

Garcia said, "That's a specific part of the project, to come up with a logo."

Trustee Lawrence Bartley asked, "Will they look at our past, our heritage?"

Yes, Garcia said. "That's what the interviews are about. If it comes back and it's something you don't like, start over."

Trustee Edward Box III added, "We stressed from the beginning that it should come from the residents and businesses. That's what I stressed when she interviewed me."

Atencio worried that sometimes a facilitator can skew community input with their own ideas. "If she doesn't get involved in the community, what good is it to us?"

Garcia said the project has an October completion deadline. The schedule includes another community workshop on July 18 at the ELHI to review preliminary branding and signage designs; and an open house from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the Ignacio Library to review the final design plan and next steps.

Bayfield went through a similar branding process a year ago with a different consultant. Both follow from previous downtown revitalization studies and are partly grant funded.

Also on March 15, Garcia touched on town interest in becoming a Home Rule city, and trustees continued their ongoing concerns about the sewer rates the town pays to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Garcia said Colorado Municipal League (CML) Director Sam Mamet is supposed to be in Bayfield on April 18 to talk to their town board about home rule, and Garcia wants to be there. CML is a lobbying and legislative monitoring group for towns in Colorado. Garcia said CML has a handbook for towns or counties interested in home rule, with sample charters for each.

The process involves electing a 15-member charter commission to draft a charter within 120 days for a town vote. With home rule, the town could collect its own sales tax from businesses instead of vendors sending it to the state and waiting for it to come back through the county, Garcia said.

"Every community that does it collects way more than when the state was doing it. I think the state loses millions of dollars," he said.

Mayor Cox said she'd like Mamet to come to Ignacio and hear the concerns about utility rates, tap fees, and taxation issues.

Trustee Alison deKay cited a Regional Housing Authority report that lists Ignacio's tap fees as $4,000 above Durango and almost $14,000 above Bayfield. "If I was investing, I would look at that and say it's not worth it to invest here," she said.

Garcia said that needs to be part of a rate analysis. "We're the highest in the region. ... We want to look at our costs and the development fees. We might change to water use (as the basis for monthly sewer bills) instead of ERTs." Customers are now billed $72.99 a month per Equivalent Residential Tap, with $11.82 going to the town and the rest to the tribe. It was the tribe's share of the bill that increased last fall, not the town's.

Atencio said he wants to look at the contracts with the tribe when they come up for renewal. "I'm talking about possibly re-writing that contract. They control everything. I don't understand why (tap) fees are sent to the tribe when they are town lines. We do the maintenance... If we don't look at it, that contract will continue on... Look at getting out of it or re-writing it. Something needs to be done. Now that I'm retired, I can't afford 4 percent (the tribal increase) every year. When you're on a set income, it's hard. It's up to us as a board to look at that contract."

Cox said, "We need to be able to justify to the community why they are paying what they are paying."