December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010

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

ROLL CALL:   Council members present:  Cecil Floyd; Mike Milano; Connie Newman; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; Rick Wekenman.  Absent: Randy Zehm.  Also present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Brian Dentler; Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.  Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to excuse Councilmember Zehm’s absence due to work. Councilman Milano seconded and the motion carried unanimously.  Public present:  Jon Fleischman; Dave Mayhan; Lynn Youngblood; Kay Youngblood; Sharon Tharp; Mike Allen; Doug Willcox; Darrell Goertzen.

Public Hearing :  Final Public Hearing for 2011 Budget.  Mayor opened the public hearing at 7:02 pm.
Public had no comments.  Closed the Public Hearing at 7:03 pm.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:   Councilmember Newman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Special Council Meeting of November 9, 2010.  Councilmember Milano seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:     Supt. Griffin reported Don and Marc did a great job with all the snow in November.  Byron Hodges helped with the plowing due to Dwayne’s absence.  Snow removal is hard on equipment:  broken hydraulic lines, flat tires on back hoe, etc., but we’re ready to go.  Supt. Griffin is hoping to come back on light-duty in a couple weeks. 

Chief Neumann submitted the November Activity Log.  Public service reminders:  Dogs must be leashed at all times if outside a secure fence; if within your yard, they still need to be secured.  2011 dog tags are now available at City Hall.

Chief Neumann discussed the department’s vehicles.  Right now their equipment is above standard.  The 2004 Intrepid is not ideal for small-town patrolling; would be nice to have a higher visibility vehicle.  Currently it’s valued at between $2,000-$4,000.  In January he would like to surplus that vehicle while it still has value and see what we can replace that with; not a new vehicle just upgrade and keep the fleet in good working order.  Chief Neumann will bring reports on all the vehicles’ conditions in January.  He will check for available funding like the $20,000 he was able to procure last time.

Rick reported Fire and EMS have both come in under budget.  Utilities were way under budget due to the great condition of the facility.  The original furnace had to be repaired.  The new ambulance contract is still up in the air; the old contract will stay in effect until it is decided.  26 fire calls YTD.  Bid openings for the new turnouts are next month.  7 EMS calls this month, 72 YTD.  Jeff Snook is new JFB chairman, Ben Barstow is new Vice-Chair, & Rick Wekenman is new Secretary.

Water & Sewer Committee 2011 Water rate recommendations:   Councilmember Newman and her committee have been consulting with Andy O’Neill of RCAC on a rate study.  She clarified that there are two separate budgets and two separate reserve funds.  It’s a WA State law that we balance our water and sewer budgets; we can’t spend more than we have.

SEWER:  Sewer rates have been raised three times since 2003 for a total of $5.00.  We are currently operating sewer at a loss.  The average monthly rate across the state of WA is $41.93, ours is $21.00.  W/S committee is proposing a base sewer rate of $24.00.  If we don’t increase sewer, our reserve balance will be gone.  A $3.00 increase will likely not increase the ending balance by much; it simply allows us to meet anticipated expenses and to break even.  Councilmember Floyd asked if we need to increase it more to build reserves?  Yes, we do but it was the opinion of the w/s committee not to try to do it all in one year.  The w/s committee recommends smaller, more frequent incremental increases in the future.

WATER:  We’re very proud as a council that we’ve been able to keep water rates so low for so long.  However, we are operating the water program at a loss.  The base water rates have only been raised twice in the last 16 years for a total of $4.00.  1994 – $13.50, 2003 – $16.50, 2009 – $17.50.  The water overage rate has only been raised one time in the last 16 years:  1994 – $.80 per 100 cf, 2003 – $1.00 per 100 cf.  Expenses consist of things such as numerous government regulations, requirements, and testing which also increases the amount of required man hours; supplies; and overhead.  Our carryover into 2011 will be approx $47,000, decreasing from $90,000 in 2010.  We’ve operated water services at a loss 5 of the last 10 years.  If rates are not increased, we’ll deplete our carryover.  The state average water rate is $31.50 for 1000 cubic feet compared to $21.50 in Palouse for 1000 cubic feet.

The committee has two options to propose:  Option 1 – raise the base rate by $5.50 and not adjust the overage rate.  A $5.50 increase per month, from $17.50 to $23.00, would most likely make us break even.  Option 2 – raise base rate the same amount and increase the overage from $1.00 per 100 cf to $1.25 per 100 cf.  The advantage to this plan is it would allow us to add to reserves for things like putting in a new water tower on the south hill; and developing a water system plan.  Option 1 solves balancing the budget.  Option 2 solves the budget and increases the reserve balance by approx. $9,000.  If we want the DOH to consider funding our WSP we have to promote conservation, which Option 2 does because heavy water users will carry more of a burden with overages.

Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to raise sewer by $3.00, raise water by $5.50 and raise overage by $.25 per 100 cf, effective Feb. 1, 2011.  Councilmember Snook seconded.  Councilmember Newman publicly thanked Andy O’Neill of RCAC for his hours he put into this incredibly complicated study.  The committee put a great deal of thought into what was fair and to solve our immediate problems.  Clerk Beeson clarified that bills will still include the usual $1.00 SCI for infrastructure and the $5.00 for sewer reserve for debt payments.  Motion carried unanimously.

Ordinance No. 882 – Procedures for the adoption of rules to govern conduct in Palouse City Parks
Mayor and Councilmember Wekenman read aloud the ordinance in its entirety.  Chief Neumann said the park needs to be a safe place where people and families can be without being subjected to others cursing, being offensive, etc.  With this ordinance, we have an avenue to follow for offenders.  We’re looking to maintain safe parks and a way to back that up.  Violators are only trespassed [PMC 9.90.030] when they violate an earlier exclusion [PMC 9.90.020].  It’s progressive discipline.  Chief Neumann hopes they don’t ever have to use it.  Councilmember Milano MOVED to approve Ord. 882.  Councilmember Snook seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Resolution No. 2010-18 – Rules of Conduct to be enforced within the Palouse City Parks
Councilmember Newman read aloud the resolution in its entirety.  Councilmember Newman MOVED to adopt Resolution No. 2010-18 with a correction to #13 to include the words “and except as approved by city staff”.  Councilmember Milano seconded.  Motion carried unanimously.

Ordinance No. 883 – Cemetery Rates:   Councilmember Milano read the ordinance aloud in its entirety.  The ordinance would increase open and close across the board by $100, effective 1/1/2011.  At the Oct. 26, 2010 council meeting Councilmember Zehm explained the rate increase.  Rates haven’t been raised since 2001.  Councilmember Milano MOVED to approve Ordinance No. 883 as written.  Councilmember Snook seconded and motion carried unanimously.

Resolution No. 2010-19 – 2011 Salary Schedule:   Mayor read aloud the resolution in its entirety.  Councilmember Snook MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Schorzman to adopt Resolution No. 2010-19.  The motion carried unanimously.


Streets & Sidewalks-Cecil Floyd, Chair :  Planning Commission wanted to touch base with council on nuisance laws as they pertain to odor, noise and light pollution.  The Commission thinks the definitions in the city code are vague and would like council to review.

Councilmember Floyd met with a representative from WSDOT concerning safety on Church Street/Hwy 272 bridge access.  WSDOT said in his experience it doesn’t pay to try and close off access; people will just cut the fence, go around, etc.  His recommendation was to post no trespassing signs (which state will provide).  That allows law enforcement to enforce no trespassing laws.

Personnel & Pool-Jeff Snook, Chair :  Next month we’ll begin process of hiring 2011 pool manager.

Water & Sewer-Connie Newman, Chair:   Councilmember Newman spoke of the State Auditor’s Office response to Jim Farr’s numerous complaints against the city.  The SAO determined them to be unfounded.

The committee will be moving forward in 2011 with the asset inventory for both water and sewer.  Also in January they will be scheduling meetings and interviews with selected engineers who are possible partners on our Water System Plan.

Police, Fire, & Safety-Rick Wekenman, Chair:   Has a liquor license renewal request from WA Liquor Control Board for The Green Frog Cafe.  No objections voiced.

Finance, Property, & Equipment-Mike Milano, Chair :  We have a balanced budget thanks to city staff for holding salaries and keeping expenses down.  We will continue to look at cost reductions, energy consumption, and ways to make facilities more energy efficient.  Mayor explained that for the next three years our insurance costs will include a state assessment for past premiums because the state determined that CIAW did not have a high enough reserve for potential claims.  Many cities across the state are affected by this assessment.  It is estimated that this adds about $1,500 to the annual fees.  Insurance costs are estimated higher than what they will most likely be.  The Mayor asked Councilmember Milano to speak with Frontier Telecommunications to discuss the possibility of better phone rates.

Had exit conference with state auditor regarding the 2007-2009 audit.  She had great things to say about city staff and the work being done.  There were no findings.  There was a recommendation that we work on developing a policy/methodology for tracking actual hours being charged to each department in payroll.  And also a methodology for breaking out M&R costs to the appropriate departments.  The full audit report is available at city hall for public review.

OPEN FORUM :  Dave Mayhan requested that the city hire an independent party to investigate the Palouse PD’s handling of his son’s case.  Mayor Echanove told Dave with all due respect that the city council has spent countless hours discussing this issue.  The Police, Fire, and Safety Committee already looked into the PD’s handling of the case and found no negligence.  This issue is now closed.

MAYOR’S REPORT :  The Mayor explained to council that we are required to update the Solid waste management plan and the Whitman Co. Department of Public Works is in the process of doing just that.  They are offering an Interlocal Agreement that would allow the city to adopt the plan that they develop like we did last time.  This plan must be updated every 5 years and if we don’t sign on with the county, we have to develop our own plan.  This agreement will be on the next agenda.

A reminder came from the Planning Commission that Robin Rilette and Mark Bailey need to be reappointed to the commission.  Councilmember Schorzman MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Newman confirming Mayor’s appointment of Mark Bailey and Robin Rilette to the PC.  Motion carried unanimously.    

In January, Mayor is going to set up free trainings for council and city staff with Canfield and Associates.

Brownfields update:  Mayor had a conference call with MFA to discuss the four clean-up strategies which will be presented to Ecology.  After tonight’s bills, there is approx. $21,000 left on the grant.

At the last scheduled council meeting we had no quorum due to four councilmembers being gone:  Schorzman, Snook, Floyd, & Zehm.  Councilmember Newman MOVED to excuse 3 of the 4:  Snook for illness, Floyd for vacation with advance notification, and Zehm for working.  Councilmember Wekenman seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

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

Clerk Beeson requested City Hall be closed on Dec. 23rd as well as the state holiday on the 24th.  Councilmember Snook MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Floyd to allow City Hall be closed on Dec. 23.

ADJOURN:   Councilmember Schorzman MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember Snook seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 9:47 PM.

The following checks are approved for payment:
Claims Paid:  11/28/10:  Ck. No. 2731 – 2772                  $69,237.76
Payroll Paid:  11/30/10:  Ck. No. 2773 – 2798 & EFT        $44,026.84
Claims Paid:  12/15/10:  Ck. No. 2799 – 2829 & EFT        $18,794.35


APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________