REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING – DRAFT ONLY
January 12, 2010
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Darcie Bagott; Roger Marcus; Mike Milano; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; Rick Wekenman; & Randy Zehm. Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; City Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Mike Bagott; Pete Hertz; Bev Pearce; Greg Pearce; Linda Snook; Doug Willcox; Tracy Milano; Sue Wilcomb; Joseph Wilcomb; Tim Jones.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Schorzman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of December 8, 2009. Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
Tracy Milano requested a line item be in the budget for the costs of PRR processing. She knows there is no way to recoup that money but she thinks the public deserves to know how much of their tax dollars are being spent processing them. Clerk Beeson said we can’t put in a line item but we are trying to track our hours and, based on staff salaries, we can try and put a dollar amount on the cost of fulfilling the PRR’s.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin submitted a written report. In addition they finished repairing the water main on W. Main Street which turned into a 4 day problem to repair.
POLICE REPORT: Chief Neumann submitted a written report. In addition he is still working on the signage for Union Street to reduce the speed limit when children are present. He will follow up with samples at a future meeting. Also, he is looking into providing a local hunter safety class. Chief and both officers have completed their 24 hours of required trainings for 2009.
Thanks to a grant through Garfield, they have three new laptops for the police officers and each police car now has patrol rifles. Both grants have been completed and all the equipment has been purchased.
Former Palouse officer Terry Snead is going to be doing 16-24 hours a month of volunteer reserve time for us. No need to purchase any uniforms or equipment for him.
Brownfields Report : Doug Willcox reported progress is being made. Phase II is proceeding in two areas: 1) the technical/professional work associated with the site investigation and cleanup analysis. They intend to use existing information on the site along with the information they will be gathering. 2) The site reuse and community economic planning. Tuesday Jan. 19th, at City Hall at 7:00 they have a focus group meeting with the Brownfields Committee and about 15 community/business members. The public is welcome.
One other aspect is the opportunity to include the school and the students. This involvement would benefit the students and their contribution would contribute to the outcome of this project. Mr. Dennis Griner is acting as a liaison between the school and the Brownfields Committee. The students could research the history of the property, collect and analyze data on the height and flow of the river, develop a business plan toward redevelopment, and put together multi-media presentations. To make this happen, the school will need new software at a total cost of about $3,200. The committee is recommending that this be submitted for payment through Maul Foster. The Mayor explained we have $20,000 residual from the original $200,000 grant. Mayor asked council for authorization to submit the bill for this $3,200 for the purchase of the software. Mayor is awaiting confirmation from DOE that this is within the scope of the grant. Councilmember Snook stated, in doing this, we generate a younger perspective on the project while the students gain a sense of stewardship. Councilmember Milano MOVED to authorize a request for up to $3,500 for hardware/software for the school pending DOE approval. Councilmember Snook seconded and the motion carried unanimously. Since the end date for this IPG grant is February 2010, the Mayor will submit a request to DOE to extend it through Dec. 2010.
Whitman County Chipper Program Update: The Mayor reported the County no longer has funding for the chipper program. The Solid Waste division will be charging $50-55/hour, coming to approximately $4,000 based on 2009 usage. While it’s a great service for our residents, do we have the money to maintain it? Revenue forecasts are still down. Council discussion included charging an annual permit fee, with enforcement being an issue. It’s a service people can choose since they can still take debris to the landfill at no charge. Supt. Griffin believes we’ll have three times the amount to chip this year, which could bring the costs up to over $10,000.
In terms of costs, Fire Chief Mike Bagott said for every call to in-town nuisance burns, it costs the department from $40-$100. We had 9 calls in 2007 (before the burn ban) vs. 5 calls in 2008 & 2009. The bigger cost is the burden on the volunteers having to go to those false calls. If the council decides to not continue the chipper program, he recommends not reinstating residential burning.
Bev Pearce stated that initially the number of permits would decrease but once people spend $ on the gas to drive to the landfill, they’ll buy a permit. Pete Hertz said he hasn’t met one person who is negative about paying $20 for a year long permit to keep the chipper. Councilmember Milano voiced his support for the permit fee and installing a gate and issue keys to only permit holders. Again, enforcement is an issue. If citizens have any ideas for solutions, please contact a councilmember or staff.
Chief Bagott reported they applied for a grant last May for new turnout gear. He’s confident they’ll receive the grant funding in the range of $38,000 with 5% match (2.5% city share comes to less than $1,000).
NEW BUSINESS :
New Council Committee Assignments:
Mayor read aloud his proposed assignments. All council members were in agreement of the new assignments as follows:
Parks, Cemetery, & Buildings: Chair Randy Zehm, with Mike & Norm
Personnel & Pool: Chair Jeff Snook with Darcie & Rick
Finance, Property, & Equipment: Chair Mike Milano with Jeff & Rick
Police, Fire, & Safety: Chair Rick Wekenman with Jeff & Roger
Policy & Administration: Chair Norm Schorzman with Randy & Darcie
Streets & Sidewalks: Chair Darcie Bagott with Randy & Roger
Water & Sewer: Chair Roger Marcus with Norm & Mike.
Joint Fire Board: Rick, Jeff, & Roger
Since Mark Bailey is off council and Rick Wekenman has stepped down, the city needs two new non-voting representatives to be on the PC. Mike Milano volunteered for one spot and we need one more. Also, Kevin Imel stepped down from the PC Board so the mayor asked Chairman Corey Laughary for a list of interested residents wishing to serve. From that list, Corey recommended Mark Bailey (now as a citizen not a council member). Mayor Echanove appointed Mark Bailey for the PC and asked for council confirmation. The Mayor read aloud a letter delivered to city hall earlier in the day from Steve McGehee requesting to be on the PC. Councilmember Bagott MOVED and Councilmember Milano seconded confirming the Mayor’s appointment of Mark Bailey to the Planning Commission. Motion passed unanimously.
Parks, Cemetery, & Buildings: Councilmember Milano reported that Mark Kramer would like to have a burial service available for cremains of people who donated their bodies to universities for science. Mark Kramer is going to look into the rates.
The Little People’s Park Project has been considering options for the playground equipment to be purchased through the RCO grant. They have found only one vendor that has been able to match their specifications. They are investigating the possibility of this being a sole source purchase.
Streets & Sidewalks: Councilmember Bagott and Supt. Griffin have finalized the first edition of the snow removal guidelines. This isn’t official policy, just guidelines. It lets the citizens know what to expect and what their own responsibilities are. Darcie got input from the cities of Pullman and Colfax. It will be emailed to the city list-serve and available at city hall. Citizen and council input is welcome.
MAYOR’S REPORT :
City staff will schedule Canfield & Associates (our insurance carrier) to come for an in-house training for our new Councilmembers.
The AWB note for Breeding’s is coming due in February. The mayor asked council for authorization for Joyce to negotiate the extension of this loan. Councilmember Snook MOVED , second by Bagott authorizing the mayor to direct Joyce to negotiate the extension of the Breeding’s Addition sewer extension loan. Motion carried unanimously. Joyce will have a resolution for council at the next meeting.
Mayor explained to council that when there are changes to council membership, the position of mayor protem must be appointed by the council. Councilmember Schorzman MOVED , second by Councilmember Bagott to appoint Councilmember Wekenman as mayor pro-tem for the city. Motion carried unanimously.
The Mayor read aloud portions of a PRR the city received Dec. 21 from Jim Farr. He had 10 requests on the one form. It took city staff 7 hours to complete (See Attachment A).
The city received via email today a letter from Jim Farr (Attachment B). In it he made an “official citizen complaint” against Mayor Echanove and Councilman Mark Bailey regarding the CTED grant for the Critical Areas Ordinance handbook. Clerk Beeson forwarded the email to all council members, city attorney, etc. The mayor then read aloud a written response to Jim Farr’s accusations from Mark Bailey (Attachment C).
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Snook 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 Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 8:52 PM.
The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid 2009 #1955 – #1997, #2007 $ 38,846.16
2010 #1998 – #2006 & #2008 – #2014 $ 23,663,39
Payroll Paid 2009 #1933 – #1954 & EFT $ 41,631.55
I no longer choose to use the City’s information request form. RCW 42.56 states I may request information by email, fax, letter, or phone. My information requests will be made email and numbered as to the priority in which I would like to have them fulfilled. Questions will be submitted separately, and if answered promptly, will save us both a lot of time and paperwork.
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: RCW 42.56 also states that if the City has no index, the city is still required to supply source codes and other index material so that it makes for searching documents easier. I would like all vendor numbers and all source code numbers.
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: Resolution 2005-5
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: Resolution 2005-1
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: Palouse Parks Trails and Open Space Plan and Planning Guide, adopted 5/27/08
- Request documentation12/21/2009: History Enquiry Reports for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 for the Boomerang Newspaper
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: History Enquiry Reports for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 for the Daily News
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: History Enquiry Reports for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 for Studio Cascade
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: Minutes for the Department of Health meeting on 12/11/2009
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: Any changes or additions to the existing Service Extension Ordinance and Water Policy
- Request documentation 12/21/2009: All correspondence between the City of Palouse and the Department of Health – letters, faxes, emails from September 1, 2009–to present.
Request that files be in electronic format if possible. Email to the address supplied or supply download link from web site.
This serves as written notice informing each member of the Palouse City Council that I suspect violations of state law have occurred regarding the formation and function of the Palouse Planning Commission (RCW 35.63, .030, .040, .050, .060, .080, .090, .100).
This is combined with many ethical improprieties of Councilman Bailey regarding prohibited votes on the Breedings Addition Sewer Project (RCW 42.23 and 42.20.100).
Council would be well advised to reevaluate the structure and duties of the Planning Commission in accordance with the law.
I also suspect Mayor Echanove and Councilman Bailey used the Planning Commission to fraudulently obtain state funds [grant # CTED (UO8-63200-044)], and that the fraud continues today through various Commission activities.
This notice should be considered an official citizen complaint against Mayor Michael Echanove and Councilman Mark Bailey.
Filed January 12, 2010 by Jim Farr.
I request this document become public record. It will be used at a later date to show notice was given to each member of City Council regarding suspected fraud in city government.
To the Honorable Mayor and Council of Palouse, Washington:
I would like to respond to accusations made on January 12th, 2010 by Mr. Jim Farr.
Firstly, Mr. Farr accuses me of ethics improprieties because of my votes on the Breeding’s Addition Sewer project. I have addressed these allegations publicly on two separate occasions; at the August 11, 2009 council meeting, and on Nicole Wood’s Whodue.org website. Since my detailed response has been removed from the Whodue site, I will respond again here.
My affirmative votes for the Breeding’s project were in response to numerous requests to council by my neighbors in the addition over the prior decade. My property in the addition is not subject to the frequent percolation issues as the ones lower on the hill, and I had no desire to develop at a density that would require sewer service. Furthermore, the cost to hook to the public sewer system is roughly equivalent to renovating my existing septic system when it inevitably required so at some point in the future. Additionally, Council had recently received reports from the Department of Ecology that indicated septic failure in the Fisher’s and Breeding’s additions were at least partly responsible for elevated coliform levels in the Palouse River.
Those were my primary reasons for voting for the Breeding’s project. In addition to those I would offer that I was never the deciding vote for any aspect of this project, and RCW 42.23, that Mr. Farr references, states that “The furnishing of electrical, water or other utility services by a municipality engaged in the business of furnishing such services, at the same rates and on the same terms as are available to the public generally;” are exempted from the law.
The only potential violation of RCW 42.20.100 (Failure of Duty of a Public officer), of which I am aware, is my failure to report Mr. Farr for suspected Coercion (RCW 9A.36.070) and Intimidation of a Public Servant (RCW 9A.76.180) when it first became evident to me. I have since rectified that oversight, and I believe that his renewed accusations are an attempt to punish me for performing that duty.
Since I am not currently a member of either the Planning Commission, or City Council, I will not address Mr. Farr’s additional complaints other than to say he has made no specific allegations. What exactly has he given notice of? He has only specified the RCW’s that govern the planning commission. Is he actually trying to rectify his perceived problems with the commission, or intimidate you into supporting his own goals?