Month: November 2012

November 27, 2012

Final Public Hearing for 2013 Budget
Followed by Regular Council Meeting
November 27, 2012

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

ROLL CALL: Council members present: Cecil Floyd, Tim Jones; Connie Newman, Bo Ossinger; Norm Schorzman; Alison Webb; Rick Wekenman. Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Jerry Standar; Darlene Brantner; Garth Meyer; Herb Greenwalt.

PUBLIC HEARING: Opened hearing at 7:01.
Palouse resident Darlene Brantner is still concerned about cutting the cemetery budget. To her the cemetery is about respect and she’s seen what can happen when cemeteries are neglected. The city keeps adding additional things for maintenance. She suggested maybe having the police officers help with shoveling snow, putting up flags, etc. Palouse resident Jerry Standar reinforced Mrs. Brantner’s thoughts. The cemetery is important. Councilmember Floyd agreed that thinking outside the box with how we use our personnel would be a good idea.

Councilmember Jones wondered why the city is cutting 25% off the lowest paid police officer instead of 10% off each officer, grossing more savings, and having less of a negative effect on one man.

Councilmember Newman stated we’re projecting an average annual budget deficit of $19,000 between the years 2009 through 2013. If we continue that trend, that puts us at bankruptcy in the next 2.5 years. She had a meeting with Public Works Supt. Griffin to discuss infrastructure. Even if we increase our ending balance for 2013 we won’t be putting into reserves any money from the general fund for equipment improvements. In addition, streets and sidewalks will be left with $400. We have significant infrastructure that need repair and replacement. In order to meet these requirements, not only must we operate with a balanced budget, we need to be saving money to reserves. Our large city dump truck is a 1973, needs to be replaced in 1 to 5 years; old Dodge 1990 truck for snow plowing, etc. needs to be replaced in 1 to 5 years; the backhoe needs to be rebuilt, spending several hours each month keeping it running, needs replacement in 1 to 5 years; plow attachment needs to be replaced in the next 1 to 3 years; the PW shop- storage and shop space is at a minimum and needed. It’s estimated we need $70,000 to $90,000 in reserves to do that and every year we put it off, the more it costs in the long run.

Councilmember Jones thinks the city should use the reserves instead of making drastic cuts; that’s what the reserves are for, to bail us out of tough times. There was much discussion regarding the purpose of reserves.

CLOSE PUBLIC HEARING at 7:22 pm

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Newman amended the minutes to include some budget numbers she presented as part of her report as follows: Total General Fund Budget Deficit for 2009-2012 is $81,785; Total Projected General Fund Budget Deficit for 2009-2013 is $97,010; Average Projected Annual Budget Deficit for 2009-2013 is $19,406. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of November 13, 2012 as amended. Councilmember Floyd seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Superintendent Griffin submitted a written report. The city had a compliance inspection from L & I. The biggest fix is a catwalk to be built at the shop. Nothing is expensive, just a few little things. The main focus was on updating our accident prevention program and safety manual and meeting compliance of the OSHA 300 rules for record keeping.

The city was awarded a $46,000 TIB grant to chip seal F Street, Union Street, and H Street next summer. This is 100% funded. No matching funds required from city.

POLICE REPORT: Along with routine patrols in Palouse and Garfield, last week PD had a death investigation. It was ruled an accidental death. Over Thanksgiving weekend they responded to a domestic assault. Apple Cup was Friday, creating extra traffic but all went well. Doing some Concealed Pistol Licenses.

It was pointed out that when traffic violations are written in Palouse, not a penny comes to Palouse. That revenue goes directly to the county to fund the court and judicial system because they handle our cases through an Interlocal agreement. Connie requested occasional lists of traffic tickets, routine stops and code enforcement by the Palouse PD. Chief Neumann will work on that.

JFB REPORT: Fire Chief reported 31 calls YTD, 6 in October. The FD is working on a Dept. of Natural Resources grant application in the amount of $13,313 for wildland gear. If it comes through, the match would be 50% split with rural fire. Approximately $4,300 will be expended for training and travel for fire department this year. Pat Wilkins, a retired Pullman Fire Chief recently passed away; he will be missed.

EMS had 6 calls in October, three were transport, three non-transports. EMS personnel have been involved in epi-training (allergic reaction). There are new state rules allowing them to do intra-muscle injections which will be very beneficial if responding to allergic reaction calls. Their main piece of equipment for purchase in the next few years is a 12-lead heart monitor which is becoming standard equipment for most departments. They cost in the range of $30,000 new. They will have fundraisers over the next five or so years to raise money for that. Annie Pillers is now qualified as a senior EMT instructor.

OLD BUSINESS:
2013 budget discussions: recap: We’ve made approximately $29,000 in budget cuts: cutting an officer to 75%, changing health insurance provider; two employees switched to spouses’ insurance plan; cell phone policy change; limiting PW overtime to emergencies and essential services; increased our property and liability insurance deductible to $1,000. For 2013, we’re going to reduce the energy usage at Heritage Park by closing for winter months; going to send notice to CIAW that we’re going to shop around for other insurance providers. Also, remember that the required state audits are once every three years so the $6,000 budgeted in 2013 for the state audit won’t be necessary in 2014 and 2015. On the revenue side, we will surplus the Harley and those funds will go into the PD vehicle and equipment fund. 100% of the Garfield police contract will go into the CE fund. Based on the newest numbers, we should end 2013 with approximately $7,000 more than what we start the year with.

Much discussion continued. In the last three council meetings we’ve taken a budget deficit of $37,000 in the general fund to a budget deficit of $11,000 which will likely end 2013 with $7,000 more than it started with. Some of the Councilmembers were still concerned that we are budgeting to spend $11,000 of our reserve balance and that budget reductions still need to be made. C-T Beeson pointed out examples of line items that must be budgeted the full amount even though the actual expenditure will come in lower than budget.

Councilmembers want more discussion before deciding to close the Heritage Park restrooms for the winter. There were mixed thoughts on the idea; some think the local businesses will take the brunt of it; however some believe that forcing people to go into businesses is potential revenue for those businesses. Councilmember Newman sees this cut as tangible evidence of our budget plight. Perhaps the city could rent a porta-potty service for Heritage Park, thus still providing restrooms but not expending money on heating, supplies, and man hours.

Much discussion ensued regarding the budget. Council was divided as to the budget interpretations. Mayor Echanove advised council to wait for the actual numbers, come Jan. 16th then go from there. Budget amendments can be made if necessary.

Councilmember Jones MOVED to instruct Joyce to prepare the budget as written. Councilmember Ossinger seconded. Discussion continued. C-T Beeson pointed out to council that each week that passes, the 2012 numbers become more actual (as opposed to projections). You’re not voting on the exact numbers in front of you tonight, but rather instructing her to prepare the budget in the form of an ordinance that will be voted on at the next meeting. The numbers may change as information continues to come in. Councilmember Newman voted nay. Motion carried.

Revised employee cell phone policy: Mayor read aloud the policy in its entirety. Councilmember Floyd MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Newman, to adopt the cell phone policy as outlined. Councilmember Webb voted nay. Motion carried.

NEW BUSINESS:
Resolution 2012-09: Health/Dental Insurance Benefits Policy: Mayor read aloud the resolution in its entirety. This was adopted by Resolution 2012-08 at last council meeting but had to be amended to reflect contribution of this benefit to the employees HRA VEBA account . Councilmember Jones MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Wekenman, to adopt Resolution 2012-09, which supersedes Resolution 2012-08. Motion carried unanimously.

Resolution 2012-10: setting the hours of third Police Officer position at 75% Mayor read aloud the resolution in its entirety. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt resolution 2012-10. Councilmember Ossinger seconded. Councilmember Jones voted nay. Motion carried.

Resolution 2012-11: 2013 Salary Schedule: Mayor read aloud the amended portions of the salary schedule: minimum wage, cell phone reimbursement, and third police officer’s salary. Councilmember Newman MOVED to adopt Resolution 2012-11. Councilmember Wekenman seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS:

Streets & Sidewalks-Cecil Floyd, Chair: TIB awarded Palouse with the opportunity to be a pilot city for a grant to convert all our street lights to the LED technology. Once complete, the energy cost savings should be about 70%. Councilmember Floyd and Mayor Echanove are meeting with Avista and TIB tomorrow and will know more for next meeting. Commissioner Partch was credited for his work in helping to make this happen for Palouse. Palouse is the only city on the east side of the state that was chosen as one of seven pilot cities.

Personnel & Pool-Tim Jones, Chair:
Water & Sewer-Connie Newman, Chair:
Parks, Cemetery, & Buildings-Alison Webb. Chair:
Policy & Administration-Bo Ossinger, Chair:
Police, Fire, & Safety-Rick Wekenman, Chair:
Finance, Property, & Equipment-Norm Schorzman, Chair:

OPEN FORUM:

MAYOR’S REPORT: Mayor read aloud a letter from Sharon Tharp thanking the Public Works Department for their hard work.

Councilmember Floyd MOVED to put the budget process, education, and potential solutions on the February 2013 council agenda. Seconded by Councilmember Webb. Motion carried unanimously.

Councilmember Floyd MOVED to cancel the second council meeting in December which falls on the 25th. Seconded by Councilmember Newman. Motion carried unanimously.

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

ADJOURN: Councilmember Jones MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 9:35 PM.

The following checks are approved for payment:
Claims Paid, November 27, 2012. Ck. #4469-4498 $5,666.82

APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________

November 13, 2012

Palouse City Council
Public Hearing for Preliminary 2013 budget
Followed by REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
November 13, 2012

CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:01 PM.

ROLL CALL: Council members present: Cecil Floyd, Tim Jones; Connie Newman, Bo Ossinger; Alison Webb; Rick Wekenman. Absent: Norm Schorzman. Norm is sick. Councilmember Newman MOVED to excuse Norm’s absence, seconded by Councilmember Ossinger. Motion carried unanimously. Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Public Works Assistant Marc Arrasmith; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officers Joe Merry and Brian Dentler; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Jarrod Pfaff, Tim Southern, Cheryl Dentler, Camden Dentler, Kathy Merry, Jeff Snook, Linda Snook, Heather McGehee, Chris Ricketts, Teresa Baker, Lesa Neumann, Quentin Neumann, Gerry Eickhoff, Erik Newman, Richard Styer, Darlene Brantner, Marc VanHarn, Jon Fleischman, Garth Meyer, Jay Iverson, Lynne Nelson.

PUBLIC HEARING: Mayor Echanove opened the public hearing at 7:02 pm. No comments.
Close Public Hearing: Mayor Echanove closed the public hearing at 7:03 pm

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Newman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 23, 2012. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin submitted a written report.

POLICE REPORT: Chief Neumann reported there was an accident in town last week with no injuries but both vehicles were totaled. We’ve had several dog complaints in the last three weeks and had another chicken complaint last week. There is an ongoing investigation with some high school students.

Proposed cuts to P.D. budget and personnel: Chief Neumann discussed his history with the Palouse PD. Through the Garfield contract we were able to hire Officer Dentler. With the current budget woes, we’re being faced with possible reduction of staff. Chief Neumann presented his ideas to help with the budget cuts: Officer Dentler would go to ¾ time saving $9,000, Chief will go on his wife’s insurance, saving $3,600, the three officers will switch to personal cell phones with a stipend from city for city’s right to conduct city business on their personal phones. With these cuts, we would like to retain the Garfield contract. Since 2009, 8% of the Garfield contract is the only city contribution to the PD Vehicle & Equipment fund. The PD is taking the brunt of the budget shortfalls. Chief suggested also looking at switching the city’s property and liability insurance carrier for 2014; Garfield saved $13,000 a year switching their carrier. Another option is to surplus the Harley and we will look into the possibility of receipting the proceeds to the General Fund rather than the PD Vehicle fund. The next PD vehicle (2005 Durango) is scheduled to be replaced in two years.

OLD BUSINESS:
2013 Budget Discussions: Councilmember Floyd explained how he came to the decision to possibly cut the PD. There are no apparent cuts to make in the Public Works Department and Clerk’s office, so he looked at the PD. With the PD, Councilmember Floyd offered options: 1. Eliminate the Palouse PD and contract with the County Sheriff’s Dept. 2. Eliminate the Palouse PD and don’t contract with the County Sheriff’s Dept. 3. Retain one Police Officer for code enforcement. After researching with the Sheriff’s Dept. and the towns of Tekoa and Rosalia, Councilmember Floyd felt like the best solution for Palouse would be to retain the PD with a reduction in staff and end the policing contract with Garfield. The thought would be to return to a full staff in better economic times. The intent isn’t to have the officer work 24/7 since by law the Sheriffs dept is required to respond to felonies. If we were to reduce, we’re still looking at a $15,000 budget deficit. Councilmember Floyd MOVED to reduce the police staff to one officer, and drop the Garfield contract. Councilmember Webb seconded the motion. Much discussion continued. Mayor outlined his work with the finance committee and diagrammed police department service hours and how the Garfield contract offsets a percentage of expenses.

Councilmember Wekenman said there are other cuts to consider besides just in the PD. Such as eliminating non-essential overtime by public works staff. However overtime is so hard to determine because of catastrophic weather events, equipment breakdowns, and utility emergencies, but some can be nailed down. He recommended changing the current code of overtime based on an 8 hour day to being based on a 40 hour week. Other options are to reduce the cemetery budget from $15,000 to $10,000 a year; Heritage Park restrooms could be shut down for the three coldest months of the year. It’s a building that was not built to be energy efficient. That could save approximately $1,500; we’ve already shut off some city lights downtown; we could do more after doing a lighting inventory such as reducing the lights at the park during the winter. Between the law enforcement cuts proposed and these others, Councilmember Wekenman believes we’ll be able to get our budget in hand.

Councilmember Newman is in favor of approaching our property and liability insurance carrier; it does appear we could save upward of $14,000. But that change wouldn’t take effect until 2014. She asked what cutting $5,000 from the cemetery look like? Marc Arrasmith explained the two older sections could dry up and the three newer sections won’t look like they have for the last 60 or 70 years with this hit. Many residents appreciate our well kept cemetery.

Palouse residents Theresa Baker, Chris Ricketts, Jeff Snook, Linda Snook, and Lesa Neumann all spoke in favor of keeping the police department. They felt like there should have been more community discussion and input before a motion is made to eliminate or greatly reduce the PD. Several present stated that before council considers eliminating the PD they’d like to have the opportunity to vote on it, such as levy for law enforcement. Councilmember Wekenman explained that there have been council discussions in the past to float another levy. They’re risky. You try to find a balance. If you send voters over the edge with levies and they don’t pass, you would lose all of it. The street levy only passed by about 6 votes in 2011.

Palouse resident Darlene Brantner spoke in favor of reducing the police force to one since we are a small community and while it’s nice having the coverage of a three-man department, we can’t afford it. Potlatch has no police force and they’re fine. Erik Newman thinks Palouse needs 1.75 officers. He asked for clarification on some of the budget numbers.

Councilmember Newman said we can’t solve the problem if we don’t define it directly. The problem is we’re spending more than we’re making. The departments are doing everything they can to cut expenditures. If we continue this trend, our general fund is bankrupt in 2.5 years. The total general fund budget deficit for 2009-2013 is $81,785; the total projected general fund budget deficit for 2009-2013 is $97,030; and the average projected annual budget deficit for 2009-2013 is $19,406. Council has been diligently working to cut, but we need to find $15,000 more. The Finance Committee (Norm Schorzman, Chair) needs to start this process much earlier in the year and report back to council. Some of the other committees have been scrambling to pick up the finance committee’s slack. Councilmember Newman wants two more weeks to consider how to fill the $15,000 budget gap in 2013.

Councilmember Jones asked why we are assuming that the beginning balances, or carryovers, are going to keep cycling down? Councilmember Wekenman pointed out that the state used to contribute $80,000 to $100,000 a year to a city our size and now we get $12,000 a year from that source.

Palouse resident Marc VanHarn said that based on the Mayor’s charts, it costs about $10 a month per person to maintain the Police Dept. and that he is well aware of the cuts in state funding to the cities. We’re not wasting money here; that’s not an issue. He spoke in support of offering a levy and thinks the people would support it.

Mayor read aloud a letter from Garfield residents Greg and Sherry Partch in support of keeping the PD and Garfield contract as is.

Motion was re-read. Councilmember Floyd MOVED to reduce the police staff to one officer, and drop the Garfield contract. Councilmember Webb seconded the motion. Motion failed.

PLANNING COMMISSION REPORT:
Planning Commission member Lynne Nelson explained the PC is writing a new comprehensive plan for the city. They have put together a survey for Palouse households and would like to have input from council before mailing it. Perhaps there are questions some would like to add, edit, or remove. The last survey was done in 1995. Council will get their suggestions to Lynne Nelson in the next 2 days. The PC is hoping to send out the survey by Thanksgiving.

NEW BUSINESS:
Changes to cell phone policy. For cost savings, the PD, Public Works and building inspector will maintain a personal cell phone and be reimbursed $30 a month by the city to off-set their costs. Councilmember Wekenman MOVEDthat the city offers the reimbursement of $30/month to police officers, public works superintendent, and building inspector for the city’s right to conduct city business on personal cell phones. Councilmember Ossinger seconded. Public Works Supt. Griffin stated he will not ask for reimbursement and will not be available by cell phone except in emergency. Motion carried unanimously.

Resolution No. 2012-07 to adopt proposed Health/Dental insurance benefits policy
Mayor read aloud the resolution and the policy in their entirety.
Two employees will have the freedom to opt out of the health and dental/otho plan administered by the city. The city would reimburse them for 50% of the maximum premium that the city is paying at the time as a benefit. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt Resolution No. 2012-07. Councilmember Newman seconded. Discussion: Both employees who would opt-out said they support this policy and they both would like this benefit to go into their VEBA account. Motion carried unanimously.

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS:

Councilmember Newman MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Floyd to continue our council meeting past 10:00 pm. Motion carried unanimously.

Police, Fire, & Safety-Rick Wekenman, Chair: Met several times in the last month. As a result, Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to put together a resolution to set the hours for the Police Officer position at 75% with full medical coverage and compensable hours at 75%. Councilmember Floyd seconded. Discussion: Chief Neumann is hopeful that in the future we are able to bring this officer’s position back to full time. Motion carried unanimously.

Councilmember Jones MOVED that 100% of the 2013 money receipted from Garfield contract go into the general fund. Councilmember Wekenman seconded. Motion carried unanimously.

Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to declare the PD’s Harley Davidson as surplus and direct Chief Neumann to first offer it to other police agencies. Councilmember Newman seconded. Discussion: Councilmember Wekenman understands that monies garnered from this sale need to go back into a PD Vehicle fund. If it is determined otherwise, the proceeds could go into the general fund. C-T Beeson will research this. Motion carried unanimously.

Parks, Cemetery, & Buildings-Alison Webb. Chair: No report

Policy & Administration-Bo Ossinger, Chair: The committee met to discuss chickens. They’ve drafted an ordinance. Councilmember Floyd asked that it go back to committee before it’s written up in ordinance form. He also recommends council read the comprehensive plan.

Streets & Sidewalks-Cecil Floyd, Chair: His report was under Old Business. Additionally, he spoke with Mayor of Garfield who recommended holding a council meeting with the state auditors to get their insight into where to cut and save. The town of Garfield did that and it was very helpful.

Water & Sewer-Connie Newman, Chair: Nothing new with WSP as it is still under review by DOH. The committee is considering a 1% increase in sewer rates which is $.24 cents which would round up to $.25 per service. This will be addressed at a meeting in the future.

Personnel & Pool-Tim Jones, Chair: It was mentioned looking at perhaps cutting somewhere in the pool budget. Councilmember Newman said the pool has already taken deep cuts. Councilmember Wekenman felt all areas of operations should be looked at again including the pool.

Councilmember Newman recommend adding one more month of closure to the Heritage Park restrooms and that they will be meeting again to look at finding more places to cut.

MAYOR’S REPORT:
C-T Beeson needs to put together the resolution adopting the 2013 salary schedule for the next council meeting. After some discussion, Councilmember Newman MOVED that the 3% salary reduction not be restored, seconded by Councilmember Floyd. Discussion: As clarification, this would not increase salaries from 2012 except for maintaining the minimum wage and reflecting the 75% reduction to the Police Officer position. Council hates to do this, but it will help balance our budget. Tie vote. Mayor Echanove had to vote to break the tie. He voted yes, no increase in 2013.

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

ADJOURN: Councilmember Jones MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Webb seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 10:30 PM.

The following checks are approved for payment:
Payroll Paid, October 31, 2012. Ck. #4404-4422 & EFT $37,679.91
Claims Paid, November 14, 2012 Ck. #4423-4468 & EFT $123,509.86

APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________