PUEBLO – In front of an audience of zero civilians for most of the meeting’s duration, City Council Monday night received word that a permanent solution to the city’s homeless shelter crisis may be within reach.
Councilman Mark Aliff, representing the Pueblo Commission on Homelessness, announced that the Pueblo Rescue Mission has offered to utilize the former Wayside Cross Mission building on 4th Street as a permanent, full-time homeless shelter, and also to operate it, with a targeted opening date of November 1. The building was the original long-time homeless shelter and the only property in the city zoned for such usage. The building is currently gutted and extensive renovations will be required. The city will have to determine a way to come up with $229,000 in matching funds to receive a state grant to pay for construction.
In a separate discussion, Mayor Nick Gradisar presented his findings and potential alternatives or solutions to an issue recently covered on News 5, alleged disproportionate billing structure for Pueblo’s voter-approved street repair enterprise fee. Owners and landlords of commercial buildings with multiple tenants complain they are getting billed even more than large retail properties, in some cases, because the fee is generated based on water taps for homes, small businesses, and large retail and industrial properties. Gradisar said one possible solution would be a sales tax to help fund road maintenance, an idea met with a mix of support and opposition from council members. Tinkering with the fee structure was also suggested, including raising the fee for residences and lowering it for small businesses, but ultimately no agreement was met on the issue.
No civilians were in the audience for the discussions on those topics, however a group of seven late-arriving citizens were present for discussion on the Pueblo animal shelter controversy, which was not discussed as it was not on the meeting’s agenda.