Month: August 2020

August 25, 2020

DRAFT ONLY.  Without council review or approval.

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

August 25, 2020


CALL TO ORDER:  Mayor Cook called the Council Meeting to order at 7:04 PM.


ROLL CALL: Council members present: Mary Welcome; Bill Slinkard; John Snyder; Jim Fielder; Steve Alred; Katie Cooper. Councilmember Cooper MOVED to excuse Councilmember’s Sievers absence. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried. Staff present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Public Works Supt. Mike Wolf; City Administrator Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 11, 2020. Councilmember Welcome seconded. Motion carried.


PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:  Supt. Wolf submitted a written report. Public restrooms are still closed.

Another irrigation line broke at the cemetery. We will see more of this as time goes on because the pipes there are thin-walled PVC and 40 years old. PW will replace this broken line and will continue to fix and replace with better pipe as we go.


POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.



We have hired two new employees to join our Public Works team: Taylor Redman has accepted our offer for the Public Works Assistant position. Her first day will be next Monday, August 31st. Evan Weagraff has accepted the newly created Entry Level Public Works Assistant position and his first day was August 17th. We are excited to have both aboard and to get the crew settled into their new roles.


We are finalizing agreement with WSDOT to relocate one of their speed signs on northbound HWY 27 at south end of city limits to accommodate the radar feedback sign currently installed at the railroad crossing.


The Palouse Native Plant Park was trimmed up last week with the help of Chief Neumann and resident Monty Nearing. A big thanks to both for their work improving the appearance of the park.


The Port of Whitman has officially partnered with Ziply Fiber (formerly Frontier) to build fiber to the home in Palouse. The agreement maintains an open-access network, where other providers will still be able to lease the fiber infrastructure and give customers more service options. According to the press release, buildout will begin this year and continue into 2021. They will pass along a more definitive timeline once those details are finalized.

Jim Kuznir of NW Fiber, LLC has submitted a proposed franchise agreement similar to the agreement we have with First Step internet to build out fiber infrastructure in Palouse as well. It is with Atty Hanson for review.


Every year we pass resolutions authorizing the county to place on the November ballot excess property tax levies for the swimming pool and arterial (project-based) street levies. Due to an oversight by CA Dixon, those resolutions were never prepared for council consideration, and the deadline to file for the November ballot has since passed (August 4th). Last year, Palouse voters approved the pool levy for $34,000, and the arterial streets levy for $44,000 for collection in 2020. 2021 Levy amounts would have been reduced significantly for both. We likely would not have had enough information by our 2nd meeting in July to provide an accurate forecast of needs for the pool in 2021 due to the pool closure this year. Similarly, TIB denied our funding request this year to turn the remainder of West Whitman street to Fir street from gravel to a hard surface street. We also did not proceed to construction on the Palouse Cove Sidewalk, so a large portion of the levy collected this year for Arterial Streets would be held over for next year. The next opportunity to place these levies on a ballot will be in April of 2021. This affords us time to put together a much more accurate assessment of need for each of these levies. Another option would be to roll these smaller amounts into our yearly levy forecast for the ballot next November. In either scenario, current reserves and 2020 levy collection will be able to cover normal operations in 2021. Our proposed General Levy for 2021 is $196,011 and proposed EMS Levy is $32,381. Both include the 1% increase from the prior year. Levy information is available upon request. CA Dixon has started working on the 2021 budget and will provide regular updates leading up to budget adoption in November.





Wastewater Facility Plan update: John Patrouch of Varela, the city’s principal engineer on the project, submitted a summary update. Since the last meeting on July 27, they have reviewed the latest ECY comments and discussed strategy to revise the WWFP. Approach is to construct seasonal storage lagoons on city-owned property to meet both temperature and nitrogen effluent limits. ECY requested a resubmittal by Sept. 1, 2020 but Varela isn’t going to have it ready until around Sept. 11.  ECY funding apps are due by October 13, 2020.  Mayor Cook met with Art Jenkins of ECY to get his take on city’s direction and to confirm ECY would support the timeline for improvements should 3rd parties seek to exploit compliance issues. Art Jenkins acknowledges Palouse has a documented history of trying to solve this problem and he is very supportive of Palouse’s efforts. The city would like to perhaps try to deliver our revised facility plan combined with our funding application at the same time.



Budget, Finance, & Major Acquisitions, Chair Welcome- Councilwoman Cooper inquired about the executive order regarding payroll tax. CA Dixon discussed his concern with implementing this until something more formal was put in place. At this time, it would be considered a deferral, which indicates any payroll tax payments suspended now would become due in a lump sum when employees file 2020 income taxes. CA Dixon will consult with employees and provide updates when more information becomes available.


Joint Fire Board, Chair Fielder-

3 fire calls in July:  1 assist on car wreck, 1 garage fire in city, 1 smoke detector alarm in city.

3 fire meetings in July – Wildland training, pump operations, on-scene structure fire scenario, and station night.

Fire department will be adding some reserve firefighters to the roster for summer wildland fire responses, three of whom are former Palouse firefighters with experience.


15 EMS calls in July: 9 Pullman ambulance transports to PRH, 2 Pullman Ambulance transfers to Colfax, 1 Private transport, 1 no transport, 1 fire standby, and 1 non-resident Pullman Ambulance transfer to LifeFlight to Sacred Heart. Rural fire had 0 calls. 85 calls total for year so far.

2 EMS trainings in July.



As a gesture of good will, the city paid our lifeguards for the entire month of July even though the pool closed on July 6th.  Today, the city received an email from resident Andres Sena. He wants the city lifeguards to be paid for the entire season, through August 15. The city tried to strike a balance between doing right by lifeguards but also right by the taxpayers. Lifeguards were well-informed of the potential of pool not opening/staying open prior to the start of the season. Council is satisfied with the city’s actions already taken on this matter.


Planning Commission vacancy. Letters of interest can be submitted to City Hall.


The Palouse chamber of Commerce emailed council requesting the city’s help to ensure and communicate public safety measures in regards to the state’s COVID-19 response and requirements (enforcing masks & social distancing). Chief pointed out that businesses have the right of refusal of service; if someone refuses to leave, call police and he will support the businesses wishes. Chief will meet with businesses if they want, but businesses need to self-regulate and enforce. Chief said the pop-up music performances around town need to stop; those are strictly prohibited under the governor’s guidelines. Councilmember Cooper asked that a message about mask requirements be put on the readerboard. Mayor Cook brought up that a lot of this is compliance issues; people are aware but just don’t want to comply. At the heart of the matter is there are folks who have their views. Councilmember Cooper asked Chief to meet with chamber to see how they can work together to make people comply. Perhaps showing solidarity between the city and the businesses will go a long way in aiding.


ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:  Councilmember Cooper MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Fielder seconded. The motion carried.


The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid      8/25/2020          Ck. #11064-11074 & EFT           $5,622.70


ADJOURN:  Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember Welcome seconded. The motion carried.  The council meeting adjourned at 8:02 PM.




APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

August 11, 2020

Palouse City Council via Zoom Teleconferencing

Regular Council Meeting

August 11, 2020


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


ROLL CALL:  Councilmembers present: Mary Welcome; Bill Slinkard; Tim Sievers; John Snyder; Jim Fielder; Steve Alred; Katie Cooper. Staff present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Public Works Supt. Mike Wolf; City Administrator Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES:   Councilmember Welcome MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of July 28, 2020. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried.


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

The Heritage Park restrooms have been the victim of some disgusting vandalism involving excrement. The cleanup and sanitizing require an extra hour each time, not to mention the associated health risks to public and staff.  PW Supt Wolf Would like to temporarily close the public bathrooms for a couple weeks until the third PW position is filled. At that time, we can open on a trial basis during business hours and see how it goes. Chief Neumann offered to lock the bathrooms every evening when the time comes.


POLICE REPORT: Chief Neumann submitted a police log.

-Radar sign is ready to be installed, just waiting for WSDOT authorization. The sign will be for northbound traffic (coming into Palouse from Pullman).

-Chief requested a meeting with the personnel and budget committees to go over some issues.



City is still working with WSDOT regarding placement of radar speed sign on HWY 27 at the south entrance to town. They have very specific restrictions, so it is not as simple as putting a post in the ground wherever we choose in their right-of-way.


There should be an update from our wastewater engineers at our next meeting regarding the timeline for a response to ECY comments on the facility plan.


CA Dixon will have a proposed update to the city’s 6-year street improvement plan (STIP) for the street committee’s consideration by the end of the month. It cannot be formally adopted until a public hearing is held. As we get into budget season, if in-person meetings are unlikely to resume, we will solicit written comment and proceed with adoption. He will also have 2021 revenue sources available soon. This is an estimation of taxes to be collected next year. The finance committee will meet in September and October to discuss the 2021 budget, with emphasis on pool levy numbers and potential impacts the pandemic will have on our revenues in 2021 and beyond.



Streets, Properties, & Facilities, Chair Sievers- Met last week to discuss increase to fees for cemetery plots and opening/closing gravesites. Committee is close to a recommendation.


Policy & Administration, Chair Cooper- Met to discuss whether we want to pursue a policy for street naming/dedicating. After researching, committee is recommending we address these rare requests on an ad-hoc basis.



Twenty people applied for the position of Public Works Assistant. Interviews are being held this week.

We are also potentially looking at an additional part-time hourly helper.


ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:  Councilmember Fielder MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Cooper seconded. The motion carried.


The following checks are approved for payment:

Payroll Paid      7/31/2020          Ck. #11018-11040 & EFT           $51,808.08

Claims Paid      8/11/2020          Ck. #11041-11063 & EFT           $19,352.10


ADJOURN:  Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried. The council meeting adjourned at 7:27 PM.




APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

July 28, 2020

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting

July 28, 2020

Via Zoom Videoconferencing


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


ROLL CALL:  Council members present: Mary Welcome; Bill Slinkard; Tim Sievers; John Snyder; Jim Fielder; Steve Alred; Katie Cooper. Staff present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; City Administrator Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.


APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Sievers MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of July 14, 2020. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried.


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

Repaired and replaced pump at sewer plant


POLICE REPORT: Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

PD is still having an ongoing issue with a habitually loose dog who acts aggressively in the neighborhood. We are going to hold the owner accountable through the legal system.


Chief wants to remind residents to not mess with people’s private property; leave yard signs alone even if you disagree with the message. Chief stated that video evidence is wonderful and admissible.


Council addressed concerns with people not following the mask mandate and wanted to know how this could be better enforced. Chief indicated that responsibility falls on the health department to hold people accountable. Chief isn’t going to be the mask police but will try and encourage people to wear them.



Effective July 20th, the state implemented additional limitations to slow the spread of COVID-19. The number of individuals allowed in social gatherings during Phase 3 has been reduced from 50 to 10. As such, city council meetings will be held via Zoom until this order has been lifted and in-person meetings have been deemed safe to resume.


This is Supt. Griffin’s final week with the city after 14 years of service. He has been integral to the operation and appearance of the City of Palouse and we are sad to see him go.  Mike Wolf was offered and has accepted the PW Supt. position on a one-year interim basis. He has been training with Supt. Griffin. The city is now advertising for Mike’s replacement, which is a Public Works Assistant in charge of the cemetery and parks. We hope to have this role filled by mid-August. Garfield has assured us that they will assist us indefinitely if needed for emergency infrastructure repairs with the understanding that we will do the same if called upon.


Mary Estes expressed need for some plant work at Heritage Park that is outside the Rose Ladies’ capabilities. CA Dixon will hand over to PW to address and if they are unable, they will hand it over to an outside party.


We continue to receive complaints about the Native Plant Park. They are supposed to be down there working on July 30. One of their goals is to clean up and identify the various plant species.



Palouse Cove Sidewalk Bids:

Bids closed July 16th. We only got two bids, but one bid was in the ballpark. Looks like we will have an extra $30k over what we had originally planned. Cost of construction materials increased significantly. We were still confident that we could see bids in our price range but it didn’t happen. TIB (Transportation Improvement Board) normally would cover these overages, but the majority of their funding has been cut for this year. CA Dixon needs direction from council on how to proceed. This project was originally supposed to be funded by 100% grant, but now it’s upwards of $30k needed from city to proceed. We have until March of 2022 to expend grant funds.  Easy solution is to reject all bids and regroup while CA Dixon seeks additional funding.  CA Dixon will also continue outreach to property owner adjacent from proposed sidewalk to assist the city in cutting a major cost of the project.  Councilmember Sievers MOVED to reject all bids.  Councilmember Alred seconded. Motion carried.




Budget, Finance, Major Acquisitions – Chair Welcome:  Had a great meeting last week with CA Dixon. Sidewalk project would take unexpected chunk out of Arterial Streets fund if we proceed. Garfield police contract line item will show major shortfall, but city is saving money from the elimination in March of the 3rd police officer position.


Streets, Properties, & Facilities – Chair Sievers: Committee revisited the pool closure issue. Took into consideration the governor’s July 16 order decreasing public gatherings from 50 to 10, increase in county COVID cases, and other pools around the state choosing to remain closed. We looked at online scheduling to use the pool and other options but none of them were feasible. It is the committee’s recommendation that the pool remain closed.


Received a request from Paula Echanove to rename H Street in honor of Sgt Jacob Demand, a Palouse native who was killed in Iraq in 2004. They chose H Street because it doesn’t change anyone’s address. Committee likes the proposal but isn’t ready to take action yet. The intent is a great thing however there is potential for unintended consequences. There are a host of deserving people in our community and does this create a scenario where the city sees an increase in these requests. Does this set a precedent? The city might need to set up procedures and criteria for these kinds of requests going forward. Streets Committee and Policy Committee will meet to discuss.


The city received another letter from the Bofenkamps regarding issues by their house on the highway: speeding and noise from compression brakes. The city is awaiting WSDOT approval to install the recently purchased flashing speed sign. Councilmember Sievers wants to continue to seek out grants to purchase more of the flashing speed signs for all entrances to town. Chief will look into cost of repairing the radar trailer.


Councilmember Sievers would like to see the city take on the responsibility for care of the Native Plant Walk because it’s not working with volunteers. Public Works is already stretched thin. It is going to require additional funding for staffing if Public Works is forced to take on the upkeep of city-owned areas previously maintained by volunteers. Mayor Cook thinks perhaps a blended model with volunteers and some level of city involvement is a possibility.


Had a citizen complaint about the upkeep at the cemetery: gravestone that had been moved off its base and weeds around the gravestones. It is not what we’ve come to expect from our cemetery. Committee would like to see this rectified moving forward. If Public Works can’t give it the attention needed, we will need to address it from outside hire.


Spoke with CA Dixon about the Palouse Arms building. We will reach out to state fire marshall again to discuss a meeting to note safety issues and notify owner.


Water & Sewer – Chair Slinkard.

Chair Slinkard provided some background on facility planning timeline. Went to Spokane and met with ECY regarding our Facility Plan earlier this year. During that discussion it seemed that two things are set in stone: timeframe to address effluent temperature TMDL by summer of 2024 and elimination of river discharge during low river flow periods by 2030. Alternatives to address temperature TMDL were industrial chillers or effluent blending with aquifer water.  Both options are very wasteful and temporary.  Water/Sewer Committee believes at this point the most appropriate course of action is to try to fast track installation of lagoons (eliminating river discharge during low flow periods) because that will be required eventually. There is funding available through ECY and USDA Rural Development and CA Dixon has met with state legislatures for the past 3 years in the hope to get additional funding in the state budget as well. We need to move fast because the first benchmark is 2024.  John Patrouch from Varela was present via zoom.  If we miss deadlines, we open ourselves up to litigation from 3rd parties. Lagoon alternative was first proposed three years ago and ECY rejected it. And now three years later, investigation of several other alternatives and associated costs, we are back to the same alternative. CA Dixon would like to see ECY take some ownership over this because they are culpable for the time and funding issues before us.  With current available funding for upgrades we would have to charge between $80-$120 for sewer alone for each residential unit which has the potential to be devastating to our community.  Varela will be replying to comments issued by ECY on our facility plan with an emphasis on lagoon construction by 2024.  City will be very aggressive in our pursuit of any additional funding possibilities.  Meeting with ECY will be scheduled for sometime this fall to further discuss our direction.


Policy & Administration – Chair Cooper: Appealed to fellow councilmembers to respond to emails.




Joint Fire Board – Chair Fielder:

-On the financial side, JFB is over budget due to COVID expenditures but is being reimbursed from CARES Act.

-There were two fire calls in June. One station night.

-There were 11 EMS calls in June (7 city, 1 rural, 3 non-residents).  60 EMS calls total through June.  Had two EMS hands-on training nights.  The ambulance contract with Pullman is up for renewal.

-There will be an increase to budget next year due to official DOT truck inspections. Total initial cost is $10,000 ($5k from city, $5k from rural) because we haven’t been doing the inspections. But after initial large expense, ongoing costs would only be about $300 per truck and not necessarily annually. CA Dixon said this won’t be a budget problem.


MAYOR’S REPORT: Covered in other areas of meeting


ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:  Councilmember Snyder MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried.


The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid      7/28/2020          Ck. #11006-11017 & EFT           $6,992.42


ADJOURN:  Councilmember Fielder MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Welcome seconded the motion and the motion carried.  The council meeting adjourned at 8:32 PM.




APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________