Palouse City Council
Regular Council Meeting
April 23, 2019
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Chris Cook (7:15); Bill Slinkard; Tim Sievers; John Snyder; Rick Wekenman; Mark Wilcomb; Katie Cooper. Staff present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Joel Anderson; City Administrator Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Council Meeting of April 9, 2019. Councilmember Slinkard seconded the motion and the motion carried.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: PW Supt. submitted a written report. CTI Construction is requesting permission to work in the public right-of-way on Harrison Street to install a water line. He’s a licensed and bonded contractor. He’ll do the digging and public works will help install the pipe. CTI has completed the water service extension application. Councilmember Wilcomb MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Sievers to authorize CTI Construction to work in the public right-of-way on Harrison Street. Motion carried.
Tyler Furchtenicht is on his second day of work with the city. He was hired to be Don Myott’s replacement. He will train to become a certified WW1 operator as required. Certification and training will take a couple years.
POLICE REPORT: Officer Cox has completed his Field Training. He is Level 2 access certified now for report writing and accessing state computers. Officer Snead’s last day was Sunday; we will continue to use him for special events.
Mayor commended Chief Neumann’s diligence with watching monitoring the river during flood risk.
BUILDING INSPECTOR REPORT: First quarter permits valuation at $350,000 which includes a new house. We are anticipating a couple new residential permits and one large commercial build within the next month.
No Palouse Arms update.
JOINT FIRE BOARD REPORT: Mark Wilcomb reported. Financials look good. There were two fire calls in March. Ongoing trainings including training on pumps & water hoses. Avista provided some in-depth natural gas safety training. Finished hose testing: 4 need new collars and one needs an o-ring replaced. This testing is critical to ensure fire fighter safety. Truck 416 is finally repaired. Chief Beeson is retrieving it from Seattle area Thursday. Vehicle acquisition from Pullman is still in progress. There were six EMS calls in March. The unit completed EMS Connect training this past month.
CITY ADMINISTRATOR REPORT:
CA Dixon is attending state auditor workshop in Pullman tomorrow. He will be submitting the annual report to the state auditors soon. It’s due end of May. Everything is looking good. No red flags to report.
City interviewed three candidates for WWTP Operator (Don Myott’s replacement). One candidate was Wastewater 2 certified but not willing to relocate to Palouse. City hired Tyler Furchtenicht. Tyler will have two years of ongoing training and service time to certify as Wastewater 2 operator. Until Tyler is certified, the city will work with DOE to start process of contracting with a Wastewater 2 operator to keep us in compliance which should cost the between $500-$700 a month.
Mayor and CA Dixon had a conference call with Varela to discuss a contract amendment. Expenditures will exceed current contract amount by a significant margin. Several alternatives that were vetted and ultimately not deemed not viable have accounted for these overages. Council has some concerns with a contract amendment in light of these overages so are requesting an advance copy of the amendment.
The city received two proposals for the Brownsfield site. Committee will meet for Q&A with both parties and then make their recommendation.
We are holding off on charging station project until the Brownsfield situation is decided.
TD&H Engineering update on water system improvements: Michelle Bly & Luke Antinoch gave a very in-depth report on the water system update. Based on past input from Mayor, council, and city staff, there were three priorities for the water service plan, project report, and design of system improvements: 1) provide redundant storage capacity on the south side of the Palouse River with a reservoir capable of maintaining system pressures throughout the city if the northern reservoir had to be taken off-line; 2) boost system pressure on the south side of the Palouse river; 3) provide additional fire suppression storage and improve fire flow. Ultimately, we ended up with five alternatives which TD&H discussed in depth. Some of the options don’t meet all three priorities. At this point a decision is critical; TD&H can’t start design of actual plans, geo tech, etc until site is chosen. They also need to know scope of work and what they’re constructing so they can apply for funding. They can’t provide more accurate estimates short of knowing where the tank is going to go. Council wants to first complete testing on our pressure reducing valves (PRVs) because those results may provide information to help determine which way to go: booster pump or water tower. Maybe the city won’t need all three of those priorities. Once the PRVs are tested the information will go to TD&H.
New water main line on Church & Culton Streets has to be contracted out. It’s on a state highway, has traffic, etc., and the scope of work is too big for our public works staff.
Personnel & Pool, Chair Cook-
Councilmember Cook was approached for an out-of-cycle salary increase for PW Supt Griffin due to increased duties with evolving public works staff. 5% raise was requested, roughly $3,000 a year plus benefits. This is in addition to the existing salary increase plan. Councilmember Cook looked at the salary comparisons across other similar sized cities and Supt. Griffin’s pay is at the bottom of the bell curve for salaries. Don Myott has been his right-hand man and with his departure, Dwayne’s workload is increasing. Don has forever been the weekend sewer plant guy and now it falls on Dwayne until other PW staff is trained, at which time they will rotate weekend sewer work. The sewer plant gets checked 365 days/year. Based on these facts the personnel committee thought it was a good idea to bring this salary increase forward. Councilmember Cook MOVED to award Supt. Griffin an out-of-cycle salary increase of 5% effective May 1. Councilmember Wilcomb seconded. CA Dixon is in full support. Motion carried.
Going through this process has brought up some issues from an HR evaluation standpoint. We don’t have a standardized staff evaluation for merit-based salary compensations as well as a market place equity piece to implement. The city needs to stay relevant on salaries. Councilmember Cook would like Personnel Committee to come up with a policy that promotes consistent raises, and also wants job descriptions updated for all staff.
Also, Councilmember Cook would like Policy & Admin Committee to develop a strategy to compensate staff who fill in for vacated positions. City needs to have a plan to financially compensate those taking on the extra work while vacancies are present. Its no additional cost to the city because the position is vacant.
Cliff Knauff is ready to go regarding the painting job at the pool house. He is going to start with power washing.
Logan Estes, working towards his Eagle Scout project, is building benches around fire pit at RV Park site 1. He is removing sod and requesting approximately 3 CY of gravel from city to put around the 18’ diameter area. He has been working with PW Supt. Griffin. Councilmember Slinkard MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Cooper, to allocate 3 CY of gravel to RV bench project. Motion carried.
Resident Jamie Gaber wants to renovate the native plant garden by the car wash. The area was initially established by Palouse Conservation District. PCD is willing to donate plants and Jamie has other resources to acquire most supplies but is looking at perhaps financial assistance in acquiring river rock. She wants to plant in May. She plans to enlist help from high school students as well as Americorps volunteers. For the long-term care she is hoping for a type of community involvement project, similar to the ladies who care for the Palouse rose gardens. Council wants to see her vision on paper before deciding. Jamie will bring to next meeting.
NW Collegiate cycling championships are this Saturday. There was a snafu in their notice to Palouse; UI just contacted us last week. There is some disagreement among council and staff as to whether this race should be continued; does it benefit Palouse? It costs money in staff labor and equipment. Chief Neumann and PW Supt Griffin will do what is required to prep for the race as well as traffic control at intersections the day of the race.
The Planning Commission has completed the preparation of the community survey. The survey will be distributed via a link and code printed on April’s water/sewer bill. An email will also be sent out on city list serve.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Sievers MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Cook seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
The following checks are approved for payment:
Claims Paid 4/23/19 Ck. #9983-10000 & EFT $16,535.91
ADJOURN: Councilmember Cook MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Sievers seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 9:08 PM.
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________