Month: September 2009

September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009

CALL TO ORDER:   Mayor Michael Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

ROLL CALL:   Council members present:  Darcie Bagott; Mark Bailey; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; & Rick Wekenman.  Absent: Mike Milano and Andy O’Neill.  Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann and City Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson.  Public present: Pete Hertz, Steve McGehee, Dixie Reber and Bruce Reim.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:   Councilmember Snook MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of September 8, 2009.  Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:     Supt. Griffin reported they completed the sewer connection for Habitat for Humanity and will work on the water next.  Griffin said there are still a few problems with the sprinklers at the RV Park which they will work on.

POLICE REPORT : Chief Neumann submitted a written report, also reporting that through a meeting for Haunted Palouse (HP), issues of concern were raised about the Shady Lane venue.  They are still in the early stages of resolving these safety concerns.  No incidents to report over the Palouse Day weekend.

JFB REPORT :  No quorum, meeting re-scheduled for Monday the 28th.

Whitman County Library director Kristi Kirkpatrick gave handouts and outlined the accomplishments at the Palouse branch and Whitman County libraries.  Several new programs are coming in and grants are pending for the latest improvements in technology.  The Whitman County Library district will have on the Nov. 3rd ballot, a request for a levy lid lift.  Kirkpatrick explained that this would be an average increase of about .03 cents an acre on farmland and an increase of $5.20 on a $100,000 home per year.  Councilmember Bailey further explained that the technology grant is to get fiber optics cable through the rural communities.  This would be a great opportunity for economic development to rural communities.  The Gates Foundation has stepped up to help supplement the 20% match that is required.

Grant of Restrictive Covenant – Mayor Echanove read the document and explained that this is a requirement to close the grant with Ecology for the mobile home park project.  This is a covenant that restricts the development of the now Riverpark, formerly mobile home park.  It limits the use to open space and accessory uses to enhance the open space.   Councilmember Snook MOVED to allow the mayor to sign the Grant of Restrictive Covenant.  Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion.  After discussion on possible enhancements, the motion carried unanimously.

Resolution adopting City Purchasing Card Policy and Agreement – Councilmember Bailey explained that no changes were made since presented at the last meeting.  No concerns addressed by council.  Councilmember Bailey MOVED to adopt Resolution No. 2009-11 – City purchasing card policy and agreement as attached.  Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

Resolution adopting Council Rules of Procedures – Councilmember Bailey outlined changes made to the rules of procedure.  While minor language changes were made, the only substantive changes were:  Identify non-agenda items as open forum; and the section concerning a consent agenda was removed.  Councilmember Bailey MOVED to adopt Resolution No. 2009-10 – Adopting Council Rules of Procedures as attached.  Councilmember Snook seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

USGS Contract for maintenance of the rivergauge near Potlatch, ID – Mayor Echanove explained the joint funding agreement between U.S.G.S. and the City of Palouse.  The city share went up 4.1% from last year.  In past years the Ecology FCAAP program has offered funding for a portion of the city share, however, this funding is no longer available.  Councilmember Snook MOVED to allow the mayor to sign the rivergauge maintenance contract.  Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

POLICY & ADMINISTRATION:  Councilmember Bailey reported he is working on adapting an Identity Theft Prevention Program for the City of Palouse.  This program is mandated by the state and will be required.  The key points of the program will be to protect personal information and learn to recognize and respond to Red Flags of identity theft for any new and existing covered accounts.

FINANCE, PROPERTY & EQUIPMENT:  Councilmember Schorzman stated that cuts to the General Fund budget must be made, as well as increases to revenue.  Continuing discussion from the last meeting, council should consider implementing the utility tax for water and sewer.  There is code already adopted allowing this, but was never implemented.   The code would be amended to allow a 6% tax to water and sewer operating rate payers.  Based on current rates, this would add $1.05 to the basic water ($17.50), and $1.26 to sewer ($21.00).  Another cost saving measure recommended is to open the pool two weeks later than usual.  This would cut down on payroll as well as heating the pool for the earlier days in June when the weather is usually cool.  After discussion, Councilmember Bagott MOVED to direct the attorney to amend the code allowing the utility tax on water and sewer service.  Councilmember Snook seconded the motion and motion carried unanimously.

STREETS & SIDEWALKS:  Councilmember Bagott reported that through the Safe Routes to School program, signage and enhancements would likely be approved for the route students are taking over the bank on North hill and across SR 272 to 8th Street in Breeding’s Addition.  She will follow up on this.

MAYOR’S REPORT :  Reminder to council and the community of the Brownsfield project update and presentation by MF&A. This is being done through the Integrated Planning grant from Ecology.  Everyone is encouraged to attend – September 30th at the Palouse school gymnasium.  Open house begins at 6:30 PM, with the meeting following at 7:00.  MF&A will follow up with a wrap-up meeting at City Hall on Oct. 1st before they leave town.

Mayor Echanove asked Pete Hertz if there is any update on the county chipper program.  No, they have not met yet.

Due to the Mayor’s absence, the next meeting will be chaired by Mayor Pro-tem Wekenman.

ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:   Councilmember Schorzman MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURN:   Councilmember Schorzman MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 7:56 PM.

The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid     Checks # 1677 – 1694    $35,827.52
Payroll Paid

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

September 8, 2009

September 8, 2009

CALL TO ORDER:   Mayor Michael Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

ROLL CALL:   Council members present:  Mark Bailey; Mike Milano; Andy O’Neill; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook.  Absent:  Darcie Bagott, Rick Wekenman, & Chief Neumann.  Also present:  Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Officer Brian Dentler; City Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.  Public present:  Jeslyn Lemke, Whitman Co. Gazette; Pete Hertz; Dixie Reber; Steve McGehee.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:   Councilmember Milano MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 25, 2009.  Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:   Supt. Griffin reported they completed Alder Street.  The chipper was here again last week.  They will be painting crosswalks, etc.  The roof leak at the Heritage Park restroom has been patched.

Open Sealed Bids for surplus.  Mayor Echanove read aloud the two bids received.  Jerry Thompson bid $7.55 on the paper shredder.  Dave Willmore bid $47.75 for the chain link fencing.  Councilmember Schorzman didn’t think the fencing should be sold for so little money.  Councilmember O’Neill MOVED to accept the bids for the paper shredder and the fencing as presented.  Councilmember Milano seconded.  Supt. Griffin said the city has no use for the fencing.   Motion carried with one no vote from Councilmember Schorzman.

Accepting Credit Cards for w/s payments correction .  Mark Bailey explained that at the last council meeting he stated that convenience fees are against the law.  He since learned that VISA does not allow such fees.  Since VISA won’t allow it, it makes accepting payments for w/s a tougher decision.

Brownfields Update – We’re coming to the end of the first phase with Maul Foster & Alongi.  They will be presenting what they have gathered at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the school gymnasium.  The objective is to orient the community on the process, share preliminary findings and get feedback from the community.  The more people there the more effective the meeting will be.

Chipper Program update – Mayor Echanove turned the discussion over to Pete Hertz.  The county grant to operate the chipper ends at the end of the year.  Pete Hertz reported that to keep the program going, the county will have to charge the city $250 to $300 each 8 hour day the chipper comes to town.  Dwayne estimated the chipper has come 20 times since the first of the year and pointed out that they were there for only half days.  Councilmember Bailey said the city will probably have to start charging for the use of the chipper, suggesting that perhaps the city charge a yearly fee of $20 for a key to a locked gate.  Councilmember O’Neill said that the $20 x 200 permit holders wouldn’t cover our costs.  It was asked if there be the ability for people to still use the compost site w/o paying for a chipper key.  Not sure how that would work out logistically.  Councilmember Bailey would like to strongly encourage the county to fund that program through solid waste because the chipper is reducing the amount of material going to the landfills, thus reducing their costs.   Pete said he would take the idea back to the board.

RV Park Policy – Councilmember Milano read aloud the RV Park Policies.  We need to add the two week limit and fee amounts to the policies.  Councilmember Milano MOVED to accept our amended RV Park policies.  Councilmember Snook seconded.  Motion carried unanimously.

City Purchasing Card Policy and Agreement – Councilmember Bailey read aloud the purchasing card policy and cardholder agreement.  Mark will have a resolution for next meeting.

Review Council Rules of Procedures – Councilmember Bailey read aloud a draft of the Council Rules of Procedures, which draws from a compilation of many cities’ rules of procedures.  Council discussed changes.  Mark will have a resolution for next meeting.  Mayor said the training session with Canfield & Associates to discuss council procedures is scheduled for September 22nd at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.  Current council members, city staff and those running for council are invited to attend.


PARKS, CEMETERY, & BUILDINGS:   Councilmember Milano presented a request from Chamber of Commerce to use the PD and PW garage/basement for Haunted Palouse.  Chamber will perhaps donate back to the city to cover heat costs for those HP nights.

Committee Chair Jeff Snook met with Dwayne, Joyce, and pool manager Annie Manning for an exit interview.  They discussed ways to save the city money, maintenance concerns, and improvements.

WATER & SEWER :  Councilmembers O’Neill and Bailey, along with Clerk Beeson met with the Department of Health (DOH) as a result of a developer who wants to extend water to several building sites.  A single service line off the main may go in at the expense of the property owner without an issue as long as the connection does not put the city over the maximum number allowed.  However, whenever a water main is extended, the DOH requires engineered plans.  If the property is previously platted, the city does not require engineered plans.  Based on the request, a rough estimate for the engineered plans is between $5,000-$7,000, and roughly $70.00/sf for construction costs.  If public works had time, they may be able to do the work to install 200’ of water main.   Andy’s recommendation is to look into the cost of extending the city’s main 200’ and fulfilling the DOH requirement for engineered plans and reports.  This could then go to a developer to continue the distribution system.  Then latecomer agreement options will be open to the developers as long as they meet the requirements of DOH.  Our goal is to have a full distribution system, up to code.  Potentially, a short-term investment by the city could turn into up to 13 sewer and water hook-ups.

Andy said the city is not required to have a small-system water plan but it is strongly recommended to make the process of extending water simpler.

Dixie Reber said the city shouldn’t pay to extend water.  Andy stated that it is the city’s duty to serve its public and Mark reminded council that this is platted property and the property owners have been paying taxes for many years.  The sewer hookups that come in would go towards the debt for the Breeding’s Add’n sewer project.  COP needs to understand our rules, our liabilities, and the costs and provide a quality infrastructure.  Andy asked for council permission to pursue conversations with DOH and engineering services.  Council agreed.

Finance committee chair Norm Schorzman reported that cutbacks are necessary to balance the budget.  He turned the discussion over to Councilman Bailey.  Bailey explained that the reserve balance in the general fund is low.  The concern is not so much with the enterprise funds of water and sewer.  The general fund covers all the costs of operating government.  We will have to get to the point where expenditure balances with revenue.  Currently there is a $36,000 shortfall.  One of the main reasons for the shortfall is the drop in interest rates over the past four years.  In 2006 the city’s interest income was $56,000, 2007 $56,000, and 2008 $21,000.  So far in 2009, our interest income is only $4,500.  The current interest rate is .45% compared to between 5%-6% in 2006-07.  Another reason for the reduced reserve is the drop in state revenue for the loss of sales tax equalization.  City Assistance income in 2006 was $31,500; 2007 it was $36,000; 2008 it was $26,000; and projected for 2009,  $21,000.
Some ideas fro increasing revenue and cutting costs are:

  • Opening the pool two weeks later and not extending the season like we did this year, potential savings of $10,700 for labor and heating the pool
  • Foregoing council salaries for the whole year, potential savings of $8,400
  • Imposing the city’s utility tax of 7% which is in our city code that we’ve never used, potential savings of  $18,000 which would go directly to the general fund for administration of government
  • Evaluating cemetery rates, swim lesson fees, and dog license fees.

Councilman Bailey voiced concern about the possible effects of I-1033 if it is voted in.  While the full effect is still unknown, any percentage increase to the general fund revenue above the combination of the national implicit price deflator, which is usually lower than inflation, and the percentage of population growth, will have to be rebated to property taxes.  This is for any general fund revenue increases including sales tax, state shared revenues, grants, and fees.

There was discussion that perhaps the RV Park should be an enterprise fund.  However, that brings up its own issues since the revenue will be limited to use only at the RV Park.

Most communities collect the utility tax; we haven’t run across one that doesn’t.  If we choose to impose the tax, we need to have Atty. Bishop update the code.  Council approved Joyce looking into it.  As far as the council salaries, we could make it an ordinance or just voluntarily endorsing their checks back.  It’s always possible interest rates will turn around but action must be taken now since the reserve balance is dwindling.

The City received building permits today for two new residences.  Committee chairpersons need to submit their budget numbers to Clerk Beeson by Sept. 15th.

ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:   Councilmember O’Neill MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Snook seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURN:   Councilmember Milano MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember O’Neill seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 9:07 PM.

The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid                 1650-1676       $67,661.13
Payroll Paid                 1599               $    500.00
Payroll Paid                 1621-1649       $37,372.82
Payroll Paid                 EFT to IRS      $  8,366.54


APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________