Month: December 2020

December 8, 2020

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

December 8, 2020

 

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; 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 November 24, 2020. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried. 

 

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

 

POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

There have been some queries about where people can legally target shoot. The Garfield Gun Club is a safe and legal place for target practice. 

 

CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:

No significant updates to report. Working on various year-end items. 

 

With the demise of the old red pickup, we will repurpose the 3rd PD patrol vehicle for use as WWTP Operator Fealy’s vehicle and also as a vehicle for parts runs. We will credit the fair market value of the vehicle to the PD Vehicle and Equipment Fund. 

 

CA Dixon is meeting with representatives from Ziply Fiber tomorrow. No revised timeline yet for fiber service to homes. Will have an update at our next council meeting.

 

NEW BUSINESS

New owners of 305 E. Main (old gymnasium) to present plans for the building: Connie Newman introduced the new co-owners David Birge and David Grizwald of Spokane and then gave a brief history of the building along with a slide show of the building as it currently exists. The building was originally built in 1928 as a gymnasium. There was even a roller-skating rink in the building in mid-1900’s. The building is 10,000 sf, 5,000 on each level. The new owners want to have commercial on the ground floor and luxury but affordable 1- and 2-bedroom apartments upstairs. They are working with an architect on the plans, and a structural engineer to address any structural issues to make sure the building is structurally safe and legal before moving on to the renovation. They hope to accentuate the architectural appeal and preserve the historical integrity of the building. 

 

Ord. No. 1002 – setting new rates for Sewer, Sewer Reserve, and sewer connection fee, effective Jan. 1, 2021

We have been talking about these increases for over a year now. This ordinance raises the fee from $250 to $1,825 to connect to the city’s sewer system. The fee has been the same for over 40 years. The committee did a lot of research on neighboring cities and towns as well as those of similar size across the state to come up with this rough market average. Additionally, the base sewer rate and the sewer reserve rate will both increase $2 per month, per unit. This increase is a necessity because it is a good faith effort to show ECY that the city is a partner for these upgrades and it is incumbent upon us to share the cost of these upgrades. We are taking appropriate steps to tackle these improvements. This ordinance also allows for sewer rate and fee increases to be done via council resolution instead of ordinance. Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to adopt Ordinance No. 1002. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Ord. No. 1003 – setting new water overage rate and water connection fee, effective Jan. 1, 2021

This ordinance raises the fee to connect to the city’s water supply system from $200 to $1,825. The fee at other entities is $3,000 and up. The fee has been the same since its inception over 40 years ago. The committee did a lot of research on neighboring cities and towns as well as those of similar size across the state to come up with this figure. Additionally, this ordinance increases the water overage rate from $1.25 to $1.50 per each additional 100 cubic feet of water metered over the base 600 cubic feet. This shows that the city is taking steps to encourage water conversation. Base water rates are not increasing at this time. This ordinance also allows for water rate and fee increases to be done via council resolution instead of ordinance. Councilmember Sievers MOVED to adopt Ordinance No. 1003. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Ord. No. 1004 – 2020 Budget amendments for Current Expense, Cemetery, and Sewer funds

This is standard end-of-year housekeeping to address budget issues we weren’t anticipating. We had to spend some more money than anticipated for labor on cemetery upkeep. We also hired two public works assistants instead of one so there are additional labor hours. Sewer had a lift pump purchase and a lift pump repair and other outside labor issues we weren’t anticipating in 2020. But we are still in the black. Councilmember Cooper MOVED to adopt Ordinance No. 1004. Councilmember Sievers seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Ord. No. 1005 – 2021 Annual Budget

We have some solid rollover dollars. Looking at about 1.2 million in our reserves due to good stewardship of previous years administration. We are holding tough. CA Dixon sees current expense ending where it started. Councilmember Welcome MOVED to adopt Ordinance No. 1005. Councilmember Cooper seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Whitman County Public Works Interlocal Agreement:

This agreement is just an updated agreement of the old agreement. It allows for Whitman County to provide labor, equipment, and materials as requested by the city, at a discounted price. Whitman County is a great partner. Overwhelmingly it is streets and materials that Palouse uses them for most. The contract is indefinite. Councilmember Sievers MOVED to adopt the interlocal agreement between WC and Palouse. Councilmember Snyder seconded. Motion carried. 

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS:  

Streets, Properties, & Facilities, Chair Sievers- 

Requesting to use the RV Park for a drive-in movie night on December 19th to bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to the community. The storage building will be the screen. Palouse Federated Church is loaning their local radio transmitter for the audio. This will provide a COVID-safe way for some entertainment. Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to allow the event. Councilmember Welcome seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Joint Fire Board, Chair Fielder-

There were 7 fire calls and 10 EMS calls in October.

As of today, EMS has had 121 calls and fire has had 54 calls. It has been a busy year.  

 

MAYOR’S REPORT:    

The Heritage Park public restrooms were temporarily closed again due to COVID concerns. They are open again. Moving forward, the bathrooms will be open seven days a week, from 8 am to 7 pm. Public Works will unlock them every morning and the PD will lock them every evening at 7 pm. The city will look into a product such as Google Lock for the doors which could then be operated remotely by the PD and PW via their smart phones.   

 

Emily Akin has submitted a letter of interest for the vacant spot on the Planning Commission. Mayor appointed her to the PC.

 

Councilmember Cooper MOVED to cancel the second meeting in December. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried.

 

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

 

The following checks are approved for payment:

Payroll Paid 11/30/2020 Ck. #11259-11268, 11291-11308 & EFT $54,293.11

Claims Paid 12/08/2020 Ck. #11290, 11309-11338 & EFT $98,538.92

VOID Ck. 11269

 

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Fielder MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Slinkard seconded the motion and the motion carried.  The council meeting adjourned at 8:14 PM.

 

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

November 24, 2020

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

November 24, 2020

 

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; Katie Cooper. Staff present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; City Administrator Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. 

Councilmember Alred submitted his letter of resignation today. He is thanked for his service and wished well. The city will seek his replacement after the holidays.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Welcome MOVED to approve the minutes of the Public Hearing and Regular Council Meeting of November 10, 2020. Councilmember Snyder seconded.  Motion carried. 

 

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

PW ordered a spare drive for the booster pump so there will always be a spare on hand.

 

POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

-Thanks to the generous donation of a community member who wishes to be anonymous, Palouse PD was honored to be involved with the giving of gift cards to deserving Palouse families. 

-Chief would like council to consider his request for a tiered city staff vacation policy to reward career longevity and loyalty.

 

CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:

ECY sent us notification on Nov 18th that our Wastewater Facility Plan has been approved to construct seasonal storage lagoons to eliminate river discharge during periods of low river flow between April and October. While this should be a considered a milestone, it is important to understand that it took roughly 6 years and $300,000 in planning dollars to get this approved document. ECY rejected this identical proposal back in 2017 and we subsequently vetted several other alternatives that all eventually proved unfeasible or were again rejected by ECY. Perhaps as important, we lost those 3.5 years of design and funding prep to move this project forward. We are now faced with an aggressive timeline to fund and construct our proposed improvements. We are still planning to meet with ECY and various funding agencies via video teleconference before the end of the year to chart our course leading up to construction. We applied for design phase funding back in October and approvals will be announced in January. CA Dixon will continue to lobby for legislative funds in Olympia. Water and Sewer Committee Chair Slinkard will discuss the committee’s recommendation for 2021 utility rate increases in his report.

 

The city’s statutory general and EMS levy increase is 1% per year and must be passed annually by Ordinance. The rate of inflation has averaged roughly 2% over the last 5 years and climbed as high as 4% in a preceding year. As such, the current trajectory of only accepting the statutory 1% increase each year will see our tax rate per $1000 of assessed value continue to fall. When the tax rate is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of city operations, a levy lid lift may be necessary to increase the tax rate to an appropriate level. This will be discussed further during our next budget cycle in 2021 once next year’s valuations are finalized. 

 

2021 budget adoption, 2020 budget amendments, and 2021 water/sewer utility rate proposals will be on the agenda for council vote at our next meeting.

 

NEW BUSINESS

Pullman EMS Interlocal Agreement Renewal for 2021-2023: This contract is up for renewal every three years.

Every time there is an EMS call, an ambulance from Pullman is dispatched to Palouse. It’s a big benefit to the community. New negotiated contract is as follows:  

  • 2021, 1.0% increase, to $18,995
  • 2022, 1.5% increase, to $19,280
  • 2023, 2.0% increase, to $19,666

 

Councilmember Cooper MOVED to accept the agreement as written. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried.

 

Ord. No. 999  – adopting property tax increase for collection in 2021: The dollar amount of the increase over the actual levy amount for the previous year shall be $1,940.70 which is an increase of 1%. Councilmember Welcome MOVED to adopt Ord. 999. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Ord. No. 1000 –adopting the property tax increase for EMS services for collection in 2021: Excess levy specifically for EMS services. The dollar amount of the increase over the actual levy amount for the previous year shall be $305.24, which is an increase of 1%. Councilmember Snyder MOVED to adopt Ord. 1000. Councilmember Welcome seconded. Motion carried. 

 

Ord. No. 1001 – setting the regular and special levy amounts for the Budget Year 2021: the regular and special levy amounts as follows:

  • Voted Regular EMS Levy – $31,233.35
  • General Levy – $198,574.92

 

Councilmember Sievers MOVED to adopt Ord. No. 1001. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried. 

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS:  

Streets, Properties, & Facilities, Chair Sievers– Thanked city staff for getting the Sgt. Jacob Demand street signs ordered and put up. 

 

Water & Sewer, Chair Slinkard– Committee met with Kyle to discuss some potential changes to sewer and water rates effective in January. With the upcoming major wastewater improvements, we couldn’t let a year go by without increasing the rate. Being proposed will be a $2 increase to the base sewer rate, and a $2 increase to sewer reserve fund. Also being proposed will be a .25 cent increase to the water overage rate. 

 

Policy & Administration, Chair Cooper– Committee met to discuss a possible ordinance addressing the feral cat problem in Palouse. They have been looking at various ordinances from other cities. Committee is looking for something that would limit the number of outdoor cats that are allowed. 

 

Joint Fire Board, Chair Fielder– On behalf of the Joint Fire Board, he thanked the council for approving the Pullman EMS Interlocal Agreement. 

 

MAYOR’S REPORT:    

Mayor has had some ongoing conversations with Garfield about the possibility of a contract to split 50/50 our 4th public works employee Evan Weagraff. This would allow him to stay full time between both cities and possibly get benefits. 

 

The City of Palouse is giving $5,000 from its emergency COVID funds to the Palouse School for the purchase of touchless faucets to mitigate potential virus spread on high touch areas.

 

The Congress is up for liquor license renewal. No police concerns. No council objections. 

 

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

 

The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid 11/24/2020 Ck. #11258, 11270-11289, & EFT $38,464.97

 

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Fielder MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Welcome seconded. The motion carried.  The council meeting adjourned at 7:43 PM.

 

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________