Month: March 2021

March 23, 2021

DRAFT ONLY.  Without council review or approval.

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

March 23, 2021

 

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

 

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

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Snyder MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 9, 2021. Councilmember Cooper seconded. Motion carried.

 

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:  Supt. Wolf submitted a written report. Repaired the West Church Street water line and a 6” main at the cemetery last week.

 

POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

Chief Neumann has contacted numerous residences around town regarding out-of-state plates. People who reside in Washington (including renting), have 15 days upon residence to get their license transferred to Washington. These people are long past that 15 days. Chief hasn’t cited anyone yet or been aggressive because the first ticket is $500, the second ticket is $1500 and the third ticket is a felony tax evasion. Chief is trying to encourage people to do that on their own such as the law states. Chief will next submit letters and copies of the law and give them a compliance cutoff date.

 

CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:

The Dept of Ecology updated CA Dixon on their timeline for a response regarding a path forward for wastewater facility upgrades. An official response will be sent in the coming days for mayor and council to review and discuss at our next council meeting.

 

We received clarification from the Dept of Health regarding requirements for water main upgrades on Culton and Church St. Originally, our engineers TDH indicated, with concurrence from DOH, a transition to a new water system management plan was going to be required. After further discussion with additional staff at DOH, CA Dixon was informed that in lieu of this updated management plan, construction documents and a project report added to our existing water system plan will be sufficient. This clears the way for us to proceed with our proposed main upgrades. TDH Engineering will be at our next council meeting with an update. We do not need a new water system plan.

 

The Whitman County Humane Society is currently in the process of crafting our upcoming 3-year renewal for animal control. Among the areas of consideration is the possibility for them to allow for the intake of cats. The Policy Committee has been discussing different strategies for controlling the feral cat population in Palouse, and this may provide an avenue for addressing that. We will know more details next month. The city has budgeted for the purchase of humane feline traps this year.

 

CA Dixon is working with an applicant that is requesting the city vacate the northern most 250 ft’ of K St. Once the application has been finalized and fees paid, CA Dixon will collect department reports and schedule a hearing via resolution. City Council will then consider the application at an upcoming council meeting and vote to approve or deny.

 

CA Dixon and Munir Daud and Associates are ready to proceed with the legal notice to solicit bids for the Palouse Cove Sidewalk project. We will present these bids to council for approval at the council meeting following the closing date.

 

Public Works Assistant Taylor Redman’s last day with the city will be next Tuesday, March 30th. She has accepted another opportunity and we wish her all the best. She was a great addition to the PW team and will be missed. We are going to proceed with three employees. We feel good with where we’re at and three people can handle the workload. Four people were too many for our needs. If temporary seasonal help is needed that can be tackled at the time.

 

Upon entering Phase 3, we will continue to monitor for transitioning back to in-person meetings.

Andres Sena update on 2021 swim team: The league coaches have begun to reengage and discuss swim league. They are wanting to have swim team this year (assuming Covid allows it). Andres is open to organizing things in non-traditional ways to abide by whatever guidelines. He offered to volunteer his time in the process.  

 

OLD BUSINESS:

Ongoing discussion on Civil Service Commission: This came about for a couple reasons: 1) the size of our department doesn’t legally require a CSC. Three FT officers is the threshold that requires a CSC. Less than three FT, the CSC becomes optional; 2) because the CSC was never enacted legally. Mayor Cook reiterated that this is not an attempt to “defund the police” or dissolve our police dept.

 

Councilmember Snyder – When talking employment law, once you engage in a certain level of due process rights it becomes extremely difficult to back out of those due process rights and I don’t know if its appropriate. We still have a process even if it wasn’t properly enacted; it’s still there. If we dispose of it, we could be making a small problem bigger than it needs to be.

 

Councilmember Sievers: I reviewed the history of this. Only very few references to the CSC creation in the minutes and no enacting legislation from council as the resolution addresses. The city operates through our city code and sets up a manner of how we do business. We have commissions which are outlined in our city code and that does not exist for this commission. Having a commission out there with some authority they’ve created themselves and hasn’t’ been approved by any council since, muddies the waters of who does what and who has what responsibility. Essentially, we’ve operated in an unlawful manner for 14 years. We did not establish this in our city code. We give authority but have no accountability or structure. Councilmember Sievers is uncomfortable operating under the current situation. It’s not good to go forward without an enacting legislation and with members whose terms expired long ago.

 

Councilmember Welcome’s concerns are similar to Councilmember Sievers’. My red flags are around compliance. Our CSC isn’t in compliance with these rules (term limits, procedures, minutes). Would like to discuss where we can go forward from this.

 

Councilmember Cooper: Has concerns about transparency and openness of the meetings. If we have a city-based commission then there should be some kind of public notice of when the meetings are and where, similar to Council meetings. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the CSC.

 

Councilmember Fielder: when on the Planning Commission, we dug through the rules and we worked hard to be in compliance and to fix anything that wasn’t. We have something well-intended but not built properly.

 

Chief Neumann echoed maybe it is broken but he would like to move forward and do what we need to do to become compliant. The CSC provides a service to the PD.

 

Mayor Cook: Palouse already has code in place to address fairness. We have a personnel committee to have checks and balances. If the chief or an officer has a grievance, they take it to the Personnel Committee.

 

Much discussion ensued. Council is very appreciative of the time and energy put in by the volunteer CSC members. Council will continue deliberation on this and will make a determination on how to proceed at a subsequent council meeting.

 

NEW BUSINESS:

Amended Solicitor’s Permit policy: The new policy now requires solicitors to 1) pay a $15 application fee per person (not per company); and 2) upon clearance by the PD, each solicitor pays a $25 daily fee to solicit. We are hoping this new policy will discourage any unscrupulous solicitors. Other entities have taken these exact measures. Councilmember Welcome MOVED to amend our solicitor’s policy by adding these fees as written. Councilmember Fielder seconded. Motion carried.

 

Resolution No. 2021-03 – amended fee schedule: This adds the two solicitor permit fees and the contractor rate at the RV Park as voted on at last council meeting. Councilmember Sievers MOVED to adopt Reso. No 2021-03. Councilmember Cooper seconded. Motion carried.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS: 

Streets, Properties, & Facilities, Chair Sievers- Have a meeting coming up with WSDOT to discuss the railroad crossing on W Main, the retaining wall near the RV Park and also the Bridge St bridge.

 

Joint Fire Board, Chair Fielder-

Councilwoman Akin is filling the vacancy on the JFB. The JFB consists of the Palouse FD, three council representatives and three rural commissioners.

 

FD is looking at purchasing a used fire truck for the fleet. They’re putting together a list of necessary requirements.

 

MAYOR’S REPORT:

Creation of Youth Advisory Council: Mayor Cook continues to work on the creation of this. Councilmember Akin offered to assist. This will be open to any teenager who resides in the Palouse School District.

 

Pullman Regional Hospital taxing district update: The PRH Board of Commissioners is going to reconsider their position on redistricting. It’s a positive sign. They are going to advance the conversation at their May meeting.

 

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

 

The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid 3/23/2021               Ck# 11509-11524 & EFT            $12,469.96

 

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Akin MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. The motion carried. The council meeting adjourned at 8:29 PM.

 

 

 

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

March 9, 2021

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

March 9, 2021

 

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

 

OATH OF OFFICE: Mayor Cook swore in new councilmember Libby Akin.

 

ROLL CALL: Council members present: Mary Welcome; Bill Slinkard; Tim Sievers; John Snyder; Jim Fielder; Libby Akin; Katie Cooper. Staff present: City Administrator Kyle Dixon; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Public Works Supt. Mike Wolf.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of February 23, 2021. Councilmember Sievers Seconded.  Motion carried.

 

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:  Supt. Wolf submitted a written report. Water line replacement on Fir and W Church should be done this week. Beeson lift station has been repaired. Boards on the foot bridge have been replaced. Supt Wolf passed his water certification test today. Public Works will be grading roads this week.

 

POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

 

CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:  No major updates to report.

CA Dixon is waiting on information to proceed with various projects including:

-Response from ECY regarding comments submitted last month to review wastewater alternatives by a 3rd party engineer.

-Official statement from the Dept of Health indicating what the city needs to provide to proceed with water distribution improvements on Church and Culton Street.

-Bid documents from Munir Daud and Associates to proceed with Palouse Cove sidewalk project

-Whitman County Landfill is looking to acquire additional community recycling bins at the new biennium (July 1st). CA Dixon has Palouse on their list if they are ultimately funded.

-Community-wide cleanup this spring. Whitman County Landfill has not announced their spring cleanup dates yet, and there is a chance they do not offer this service in 2021.

 

NEW BUSINESS:

Citizens Climate Lobby advocating for Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act:

Linda Jovanovich from the Citizens Climate Lobby was on the call to give an update to council on what they are working on and to answer any questions. She updated council on specific bills and where they sit in the legislative session. The Citizens Climate Lobby updated their request to advocate for climate change in general as opposed to any specific proposal. Council will consider the material presented and proceed with a statement if they choose to do so.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS: 

Policy & Administration, Chair Cooper- 

Councilmember Cooper and the Policy Committee recommend the following changes to the Palouse RV Park policies as a mutually beneficial option for both the city and those who are improving and expanding our community:

A contractor rate of $700/month will be offered at the RV park subject to the following conditions:

-Must have active building permit within city limits of Palouse

-Maximum of 5 spaces for the contractor rate at any given time, subject to availability

-Refunds approved with 2-week notice

-Must adhere to RV park rules at all times or stay will be terminated

Councilmember Cooper MOVED to approve the proposed changes. Councilmember Fielder seconded. The motion carried.

 

Joint Fire Board, Chair Fielder-

There were 6 fire calls for January: 1 mutual aid to Garfield, 2 down power lines, 1 traffic accident and 1 false alarm at the Community Center. 3 meetings and 2 trainings in January.

There were 9 EMS calls in January: 6 city residents including 1 fire standby; 1 rural; and 2 non-resident.

 

MAYOR’S REPORT:

Mayor Cook provided an update on his proposal to create a youth advisory board and will have a document to run by council when finalized.

Proposal for pool house upgrades were discussed. Will be finalized soon.

Palouse Family Foods liquor license up for renewal. No concerns.

 

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

 

The following checks are approved for payment:

Payroll Paid 2/28/2021               Ck# 11469-11484 & EFT            $41,756.54

Claims Paid 3/9/2021                 Ck# 11485-11507 & EFT            $12,359.22

 

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Akin MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember Fielder seconded. The motion carried. The council meeting adjourned at 7:37 PM.

 

 

 

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________

February 23, 2021

Palouse City Council

Regular Council Meeting via ZOOM teleconferencing

February 23, 2021

 

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: City Administrator Kyle Dixon; Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Officer Joel Anderson; Public Works Supt. Mike Wolf.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Sievers MOVED to approve the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of February 9, 2021. Councilmember Slinkard seconded. Motion carried.

 

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:  Supt. Wolf submitted a written report. Additionally, the following M&R issues were reported:

-Had a water leak on 8th Street service line which has been repaired.

-Have a water leak on a service line at intersection of Church and Fir Streets. We hit the galvanized line with the backhoe yesterday so Roach Construction is coming tomorrow to replace with a poly line.

-The high flow alarm at the Beeson lift station has been going off about twice a day lately. PW washed the lift station this morning but are still experiencing some issues with the alarm. KME is coming tomorrow to replace a portion of the pump that continues to trip the alarm.

-One of the pumps/motors on the snowplow blade is going out.

-The sander has been repaired with a few minor tweaks to work out.

-The 1-ton has a flat tire, getting fixed.

 

POLICE REPORT:  Chief Neumann submitted the police log.

 

CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:

Comments on the results of our wastewater funding application with ECY as discussed at our last meeting were submitted on February 11th and we are now awaiting their response.

 

WSDOT will be scheduling a site visit to replace railroad crossing equipment on West Main Street/Spokane Street this spring. We will also have them look at the retaining wall just north of the RV park as well and discuss some options to restore and enhance that area.

 

The Citizens Climate Lobby of Palouse will be at our next council meeting to discuss steps that they would like city leaders to take regarding climate change initiatives.

 

The Dept of Health is reviewing our path to finalize Church and Culton Street water main upgrades. We should be in a position to give TDH direction on next steps in March.

 

NEW BUSINESS:

Resolution No. 2021-03 – repealing the act of appointing commissioners to serve on a purported Civil Service Commission (CSC): To summarize, traditionally Palouse has been a two-person department based on our size and budget; however, in 2008 Palouse entered into an agreement with Garfield for a joint department with three full-time officers which then required a CSC.  However, we have discovered that our CSC was never established through an enactment of council legislation which thereby means the commissioners had no authority to act on civil service matters. Fast-forward to March 2020 when we discontinued our contract with Garfield and returned back to a two-man department, which means the requirement for a CSC ceased. Thus, there is no longer a need for a CSC and this resolution clarifies both points.

 

While there was intent, the management and operation of the CSC hasn’t really operated in conjunction with or had good dialogue with the council to any degree. At this point in time, the resolution is really about addressing an issue of how it came to be. Mayor Cook stated “this is 100% not a means to defund or dissolve our police department”. This was technically an issue that wasn’t done right in the first place and now we need to address it. He looks at this as an opportunity to reset and move forward. We have an opportunity here to pause and see what makes the best sense for Palouse, garner community-wide input and increase transparency. Council can then make a decision on what’s best for Palouse. There are some management pieces that need some addressing.

 

Chief Neumann and Officer Anderson both want to retain the CSC as some form of protection for the officers. It makes Neumann and Anderson concerned for their future with the city of Palouse PD. Chief wants to recognize what we already have in place and take the steps to enact it properly. Dave Tharp of the CSC pointed out that they (the CSC) have the best interests of the city and that the policies in place should remain because the CSC is still beneficial, even if the requirement no longer exists. He would offer to resign from CSC if others expressed interest in serving.

 

Much discussion ensued. Atty Hanson reiterated that since no legislation was enacted by council, the CSC was never properly established and never had any authority to act as such. Councilmember Snyder indicated that if we gave the CSC adjudicatory powers, properly or not, with regard to complaints within the PD, we may have an issue if we’re taking a benefit away from our police unless we have something set up to take its place.

 

No action was taken on the resolution and council will investigate further on how to proceed.

 

COMMITTEE REPORTS/REQUESTS: 

Policy & Administration, Chair Cooper-

Policy committee is still looking into how we can best update the solicitor’s policy. We’re considering having a fee associated with the permitting process.

 

Policy committee is considering the idea of offering a contractor rate at the RV Park to contractors with an active building permit within the city limits. They would be subject to all the existing rules. City would limit the amount of contractor spaces and the window of availability.

 

MAYOR’S REPORT:

Liquor license renewal for Palouse Caboose. No issues or concerns.

 

Interview for Council Position # 6:  The city had two Palouse residents apply for council position #6: Libby Akin and Ron Weller. Both applicants attested to being registered voters within Whitman County. Both applicants were asked the same set of questions, separately. Council went into executive session at 8:20 pm to review the interviewees. Council reconvened at 8:30 pm. Mayor thanked both applicants. Both did an excellent job. Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to appoint Libby Akin to council position #6. Councilmember Cooper seconded. Motion carried.

 

ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:  Councilmember Slinkard inquired about the Jones Truck and Implement bill for DOT Fire Vehicle inspections. Half of this cost is covered by Rural Fire District #4. Councilmember Sievers MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Snyder seconded. The motion carried.

 

The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid      2/23/2021          Ck. #11451-#11468        $19,107.47

 

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Fielder MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Welcome seconded. The motion carried. The council meeting adjourned at 8:36 PM.

 

 

 

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________