top of page

Fort Collins City Council 5/16/2023

Meeting Summary

  • Council voted 4-3 to not increase the minimum wage in Fort Collins (Arndt, Canonico, Peel, Gutowsky No Ohlson, Francis, Pignataro Yes). Hear and read all of public comment below.

  • Council voted final passage 6-1 (Peel No) to Amending the Land Use Code to Include Guidelines and 1041 Regulations for the Administration of Designated Areas and Activities of State Interest. The 1041 powers give local governments the ability to regulate particular development projects occurring within their jurisdiction, even when the project has broader impacts. The 1041 regulations would allow for reviewing and permitting of two designated areas and activities of statewide interest: (1) major domestic water, sewage treatment; and (2) highway projects.

  • Council voted 6-1 (Ohlson No) to postpone indefinitely Amending the Land Use Code to Include Water Adequacy Determinations

The Issue: Minimum Wage

Public Comment Audio and Transcript

Meeting Notes

Fort Collins City Council Regular Meeting

Date & Meeting time: 5/16/23 @6:00 PM

Members Present: Mayor, Jeni Arndt. Mayor Pro Tem/Councilmember District 6, Emily Francis. Councilmember, District 1, Susan Gutowsky. Councilmember, District 2, Julie Pignataro. Councilmember, District 3, Tricia Canonico. Councilmember, District 4, Shirley Peel. Councilmember, District 5, Kelly Ohlson

Others present to note (media, public, other agencies):

Fort Collins Connexion (Broadband) Executive Director Chad Crager

Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein

Senior Policy and Project Manager Ginny Sawyer

Senior Planner Jenny Axmacher

Public Comment Summary

For Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

  • “Workforce Development Centers talk to us about how hard it is to get people in elder care, health care construction, because of wages. And I think we have a lot of workers working with an enormous amount of integrity and dignity. But the wage that they're being paid does not honor their hard work and their dignity. We all know what $13.60 buys us right now, in terms of rent, childcare, groceries, gas, just not very much.”

  • Raising employee wages…. “And more importantly, I'm proud to say that the decision has not jeopardized the financial viability of our organization. Rather it has had the opposite effect. It has improved employee satisfaction, reduced turnover and the costs associated with that turnover and enhanced productivity.”

  • It’s increasingly expensive to live in Fort Collins and raising the minimum wage would help with basic living expenses

  • Studies show raising the minimum wage has a higher rate of those additional wage dollars being spent in the local economy vs wage increases higher up the wage scale

  • Support Individuals and Families

  • Studies show there is no negative downside to employment from raising the minimum wage

  • Raising the minimum wage would help fill positions at the lower end of the wage scale which have been increasingly hard to fill

  • The majority of minimum wage workers are above 25 and 30% are above 30

  • Home Care workers get paid low wages and raising the minimum wage would help this group of individuals make ends meet and attract better employees

  • Many minimum wage jobs were essential during the pandemic period and proves how important these jobs are to society

  • Workers paid a higher wage are more productive and more stable employees

Against Minimum Wage Increase Proposal

  • “it would be over $150,000 for one in wage increases and almost $250,000 in the other. Just on an increase in minimum wage, we don't pay our full minimum wage employees anywhere close to that, because the market doesn't dictate that anymore. We have to pay we are paying 2021 $22 an hour for our line cooks, we're paying 1819 and 20. For our dish machine operators, they're valuable employees that we want to keep the people that will have a wage increase from this are the tip credit employees that are our bussers, our servers and our bartenders. I don't know if we can figure out how to offset the $100,000 of wage increases in our businesses. Aside from making menu prices increases, which in turn, affect inflation, and then the whole cycle continues”

  • Pause minimum wage to avoid a greater shit to automation and AI impacts

  • Minimum wage workers may be moved to part time and may also lose benefits if a wage increase occurs

  • Raising the minimum wage puts business in a competitive disadvantage to surrounding areas because cost increases will be passed on in higher prices

  • Minimum wage discussions should occur at a regional level

  • Wage increases will be passed on to consumers via higher prices

  • Raising the minimum wage will reduce other benefits and perks for employees

  • Raising the minimum wage would especially hurt restaurants

  • Some restaurants could close reducing jobs, and prices would increase for customers

  • Minimum wage adjustments are for businesses to dictate not local government

Other Issues Public Comment

  • Consider a sales tax for affordable housing

  • In favor of 1041 regulations

Item 7 Connexion Broadband Arrangement Discussion with Larimer County Chad Crager

  • 1000 premises near JJs corner at Harmony and Taft Hill

  • Larimer County will pay for design construction and drops including oversight of construction from a management company

  • Fort Collins will share 25% of revenue from locations until payment is complete back to the county estimated at taking 25 years

  • Any damage incurred during installation (happens very rarely) is paid to fix the damage issue

Discussion Item 9 Second Reading of Ordinance No. 071, 2023, Amending the Land Use Code to Include Guidelines and Regulations for the Administration of Designated Areas and Activities of State Interest.

Staff Presentation Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein

  • 1041 Regulations Permitting Process

  • Impacts Domestic Water, Waste Water, Highway, Interchanges

  • 3 Stage Review Process

    • Applicability of Standards (FONSI Finding of No Significant Impact)

    • Full Permit Review (Completeness Check & Neighborhood meeting)

    • Permit Decision Making (Planning and Zoning, City Council)

  • Removed Pipe Size Diameter

  • Excludes Projects within the existing right of way

  • Added a definition to redefine Applicability of Standards determination FONAI to a FONSI, Impact, Cumulative Impacts, Significance

  • Added a conceptual submittal document that summarizes the potential for a significant impact

  • Moved neighborhood meeting requirements to after review of the applicability of standards

  • Extend comment period during the pre-application activity review

  • Second Reading Amendment 1 Delete reference to Council Pre-Application Hearing Regarding Areas and Activities of State Interest

  • Mitigation guarantee if FONSI issued

Public Comment

Joe R District 5

  • 1041 agreements will be run by consultants

  • Intergovernmental Agreements would be have clearer outcomes and run by the city

  • Recommends pausing on approval

  • A project of an acre is considered statewide interest

Mayor Arndt Question about using consultants

Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein Consultant support would be needed to administer the 1041 permitting process working with existing staff. Intergovernmental Agreement support staffing requirements have not been studied

Councilmember Peele Question about financial guarantees

Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein Financial guarantees are required for plans to address restoration of habitat buffers

Mayor Arndt Question about cost to get a 1041 permit

Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein

  • Basic Development Review 15k

  • Full Permit Application 24k

  • 3rd Party costs 20-30k

  • Total cost ~64k which is under 100k

Mayor Arndt Question about timelines

Senior Environmental Planner Kirk Longstein

  • Step 1 30 days to determine if the process is required

  • Step 2 60 days to collect application materials

  • Steps 3 Neighborhood Meeting and then Council Review within 90 days

  • Total timeline 6-9 months

Amendment 1 Remove Pre-Application Council Meeting Option Passes 7-0

Amendment 2 Discussion guarantee that proposed mitigation that considered by the Director in issuing a FONSI is completed

Councilmember Peel Question Clarification about potential double mitigation financial planning


  • Applies to FONSI Finding of No Significant Impact Mitigations only not full permit which is a separate code section

  • FONSI is end of permitting process with the city

Amendment Passes 7-0

Councilmember Ohlson-Regulations are not as restrictive as other areas and covers less items. It’s a cautious approach. Thanks Staff

Mayor Pro Tem Francis- City code does not allow for many additional items. Thanks Staff.

1041 Regulations Pass 6-1 Peel voting no

Mayor Arndt asks for staff report in a year on how the process is going

Discussion Item 10 Minimum Wage Adjustment for Fort Collins

Ginny Sawyer Senior Policy and Project Manager

  • Other Larimer County areas have not signaled interest in regional approach

  • If adopted implemented January 1, 2014

  • Minors can be paid 15% less

  • Tipped Wage would be $3.02 cheaper then minimum wage

  • Minimum wage ramp up by 2027 Minimum Wage Option A $17.15 Option B $17.81 both options adjust to Consumer Price Index after that date

Councilmember Canonico any studies around impacts to areas with population around Fort Collins

Ginny Sawyer No, For Denver many levers for Cause and Effect

Mayor Arndt

  • Supports minimum wage increase at the state level

  • Agreed with all comments

  • Complicated issue

  • Child Care workers should make more

  • Small Businesses would leave Fort Collins and/or price increases, more chains and corporatization

  • Hurts small businesses can’t exempt employers with less than 20 people

  • Unemployment insurance fund has additional costs to businesses

  • Will vote no

Mayor Pro Tem/Councilmember Francis

  • Cost of living varies in the state and has dramatically increased in Fort Collins over the past 5 years

  • Many employees make below $17-$18 an hour

  • This is an affordability issue workers can’t meet basic necessities

  • Impacts women and people of color more, equity issue

  • Workers come to fort collins because they can’t afford to live here

  • Consumer Price Index guardrail adjustments happen after 2017

  • Will vote yes

Councilmember Pignataro

  • Will help people save for housing

  • Money obtained will be spent in the community

  • Support option B higher wage option

Councilmember Canonico

  • Supports all commenters

  • Tough Decision

  • Colorado and by extension Fort Collins have increased and continue to increase the minimum wage

  • Businesses are dealing with a lot of issues pandemic recovery leave,

  • Early Childhood Workers are a concern and Larimer County will have a ballot initiative to potentially increase pay for that sector

  • Suggests increasing 2.5% over CPI every year instead of higher increases from 2014-2017

  • No on current proposals

Councilmember Gutowsky

  • Appreciates public comment

  • Many employers are paying above minimum wage market is driving wages

  • Many businesses are doing ok

  • 85% of businesses in Fort Collins have less than 50 employees

  • Businesses are a way for owners to make money and some would have issues with survivability

  • Layoffs may occur

  • Prices would increase so wage increases would have less of an effect

  • Not supporting

Councilmember Ohlson

  • Very Disappointed

  • Documentation did not address positive impacts in his view

  • Lowest paid workers should be paid more

  • Stories are not better than data

  • Most studies show there are minimal negative impacts

  • People have more to spend and spend in the economy

  • Supports highest minimum wage option that could pass

  • Asked if 20 workers or less or tipped workers could be exempt can’t from state

Councilmember Peel

  • Research and data depend on variables hard to find data reflecting this area

  • Government regulation is increasing costs

  • Local businesses talked to and gave hard numbers that show negative impacts, higher costs passed on, lower hours, choosing to stop operating overall

  • Some non profits said this would hurt them

Mayor Pro Tem/Councilmember Francis

  • Community is very split

  • Some businesses ok with changes

  • People having more autonomy with higher wages on how to spend is good

Mayor Arndt

  • Government is telling businesses to pay workers more

  • Another option government to make direct payments to low income individuals so government shoulders cost not businesses

  • Income supplemental discussions with Denver

Councilmember Ohlson

  • Interesting concept but another tax payer subsidy to corporations

Councilmember Canonico

  • Reach out to state legislators about changing law to exempt small businesses and tipped workers from minimum wage increasese

Minimum Wage Option B increase fails 4-3 Arndt, Canonico, Peel, Gutowsky No Ohlson, Francis, Pignataro Yes

Councilmember Canonico

  • Explore Regional and/or Boulder Consortium Approach

  • Boulder Consortium timeline rate this year and implementation next year

Discussion Item 11 Amending the Land Use Code to Include Water Adequacy Determinations

Staff Presentation Senior Planner Jenny Axmacher

Policy needs to be updated for more complicated development and dealing with multiple water providers

Proposed policy 3 categories (Established Potable Water, New Potable water entities, Non-Potable water like irrigation)

Review happens once by CDNS director with consultant support and is not appealable

New Potable water provider evaluation criteria includes water quality and quantity, dependability of supply and supplier, availability of supply, and financial sustainability of supplier

Proposed code changes were shared with stakeholders for feedback and all existing water providers within city limits participated

Council Decision Points

  • When would permit determination occur (Suggest Final Development Plan/Basic Development Review with an option to defer until building permit process)

  • Established Provider Review providers would need to provide a letter or water supply plan to council outlining water resources prior to submitting will serve letters

  • New(other) providers to exclude from established providers service area or get their consent to operate

Planning and Zoning recommend additional time to study policy impacts

Staff recommending approval of changes

Public Comment

Tim G East Larimer County Water District Counsel

  • ELCO has a detailed analysis process for an applicant wishing to remove from a supplier

  • Fort Collins will regulate business models of existing suppliers

  • Additional proposed changes have been made after Planning and Zoning review

  • Recommends postpones changes and gather more input

Max M

  • ELCO doesn’t have it’s own water supply

  • To add water supply ELCO must consent or exclude the property and there is no interest in either option

  • Suggest follow Colorado law to simplify process

Executive Session 6-1 Ohlson votes No

  • Water court litigation questions from proposed changes around water adequacy

  • Water adequacy change impacts to existing federal state or local law

Councilmember Peel-Did not have time to fully review documentation prior to the meeting will vote no

Mayor Pro Tem Francis- Suggests postponing vote and having discussions during a council work session

Councilmember Pignataro- Supports Francis approach and also is interested in Planning and Zoning feedback

Vote to postpone indefinitely 6-1 Ohlson No vote

Other Business

  • Councilmember Canonico- Discuss Minimum Wage with Boulder Consortium of cities and other regional areas

  • Councilmember Pignataro- Explore a city led regional approach

  • Staff- Will give updates via memos on progress to either of these approaches

  • Councilmember Canonico- Add Minimum Wage Increase to the legislative agenda

  • Staff- Will add to legislative review committee agenda

  • Council vote to extend the time for the hearing of the appeals filed regarding the Planning and Zoning Commission’s March 23, 2023, decision approving the Ziegler/Corbett Overall Development Plan Major Amendment, MJA220004, to September 5, 2023. Passes 7-0

  • Council will discuss temporary council member appointment (since 2 existing members will be absent) to the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for voting items as the first item during the 5/23 council work session timeslot

Observer Follow-Up Questions

  • Will the minimum wage be addressed again with a proposed increase of Consumer Price Index plus 2.5%

  • Will there be additional discussion or research around government payments to lower income workers directly?

  • When will staff bring Water Adequacy discussions back to Council?

  • What is the timeline for next steps on Minimum Wage engagements with Boulder consortium, regional engagement and/or leading a regional consortium?

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page