Special Council Meeting:
Public Hearing for 2010 Revenue Sources
REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
July 14, 2009
CALL TO ORDER : Mayor Michael Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL : Council members present: Darcie Bagott; Mike Milano; Andy O’Neill; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; Rick Wekenman. Absent: Mark Bailey. Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; City Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Dixie Reber; Heather Faught, TDH; Pete Hertz; Duane Wakan, US Census Bureau; Rick Gage; Jon Fleischman; Seth Harris; Jeslyn Lemke, Gazette; Steve McGehee.
PUBLIC HEARING For 2010 Revenue Sources: 7:01 PM
Pete Hertz stated that his assessed valuation went up by 23% and asked why then that the increase to the city levy is only 1%. Mayor explained that the city is limited to a 1% increase from the year before. So even if your house increases by 300%, the city only gets 1%. The city valuation increases, changing the dollar amount per thousand that you are levied. This 1% does not include new construction, and other factors that will be stated in the ordinance.
Mayor explained that there were three primary levies for COP in 2009: 1. Pool levy at $26,000; Street levy at $40,000; & General Levy tax at $106,000.
Jon Fleischman asked about non-residents of Palouse using the pool and whether or not a fee should be charged to them. The Mayor stated that it is the wish of the council that all are encouraged to use the pool. Councilmember Wekenman explained that it’s like a city park. We’ve never charged for using the city park. We encourage people to come to town, to experience what Palouse is about, to spend their money downtown. Out of town patrons are encouraged to make a donation and public works will be providing a donation box for the counter. Councilmember Milano said it’s part of the formula of having that family-friendly environment in Palouse.
With no further comments, the pubic hearing was closed at 7:10PM.
Open Regular Meeting: 7:10 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Snook MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of June 23, 2009. Councilmember Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
OPEN FORUM :
Duane Wakan from the U.S. Census Bureau explained the bureau’s roles and goals. The census began in 1790. If we want to have a democracy, everyone needs to be counted. It’s a constitutional mandate that this is done every 10 years. The census determines the distribution of more than $300 billion annually of government funding for critical community services. It generates thousands of jobs across the country, and impacts your voice in Congress. We’re asking COP to help promote the census and help us locate the least, the last, and the lost. In exchange for working with the US census in getting the word out, the census will fund up to $3,000 per event to a vendor (like a band for Palouse Days, trophies for the car show, etc.). The COP agreed to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau. Mike Milano will discuss it with the chamber as a joint venture. Palouse Days and Haunted Palouse are two of the main events to use the funding for.
Heather Faught, representative from TD&H Engineers introduced herself, TD&H, and their services. She dropped off a statement of qualification earlier this month.
Seth Harris, a resident at 405 E. Houghton in Palouse . In 2006 he built a garage with a loft apartment with the intention of having it as quarters for his father-in-law. He now wants to have the option of renting out that space. The issue is that code states that there cannot be two separate living quarters on one lot. The garage is detached from the house so it cannot be defined as a duplex. Even if he was allowed to rent the space as an apt., code clearly states that for it to be a legal rental, it has to be a minimum of 750 square feet. The first question is the original intent of the garage apartment. The COP needs to look at the original permit, and talk with the building inspector and attorney. Joyce will help make this meeting happen. It will have to be determined this would be a legal application to the Board of Adjustment for a conditional use permit.
Dixie Reber asked who is on the Board of Adjustment (BOA). Mark Kramer, Steve Witthuhn, Rick Wekenman, Heidi Kite, and Becky Manning. For the Planning Commission she asked about the site review committee. The site review committee is to review proposed developments to make sure they’re compatible. Councilmember Wekenman explained that there’s never been a need for one (site review committee) thus far; with no large developments. Dixie then asked if the aerial maps are available to the public. The best thing would be to bring a CD or flash drive to City Hall for a copy. It takes a graphic compression program to view. Councilmember Snook said Google Earth is an excellent resource for maps. City Hall could try and make photocopies but they might be poor quality.
Steve McGehee . [Editor’s Note: I had a hard time capturing the exact phrasing of Mr. McGehee’s questions and the ensuing conversation]. Steve McGehee arrived at council with pre-written questions regarding Breeding’s Addition. He asked the Mayor if the DOE approved the Breeding’s Addition plan that was submitted April 7, 2009? The mayor asked Mr. McGehee why he is trying to put a bad light on the Breeding’s project. Mayor Echanove stated for the audience that the $65,000 cost overruns that Steve always writes about are untrue. When COP went to contract with Breeding’s, the city at that time could either pay to find out how much solid rock was there, or make an estimate of hard rock and leave the quantity open. We went with the open quantity. Also, we added service wyes. We asked people who wanted them and they would pay when they hooked up. Mayor asked Steve if he understood that. Steve said he disagreed but that yes he understood.
Steve asked if engineer Munir Daud disregarded the mayor’s directive of August 28, 2007, to send out request for bids on the project after the DOE approves the project engineer plans and the amendment to our Sewer Facility Plan? The Mayor said if Munir was here he could talk but Munir’s not here. Mayor asked Steve his point. “My point is I want to find out if he violated the directive you gave him.” Mayor stated that Munir Daud is an excellent engineer. Steve said “That’s not the question I asked.” Mayor again asked Steve his point and that we all know that he sends all these nasty things to the DOE and they contact us and find no fault with project, so why is he doing all this?” Steve said “I think it’s evidently clear, to me, and not just to me but to other people that there were a good many things done outside the law.” Mayor told Steve that he constantly says things in the paper that are fairy tales. Steve told the Mayor that this is his opportunity to ask him, the elected representative, questions. Steve further stated that he refuses to answer questions because as a private citizen he doesn’t have to. He then stated that his word as written speaks for itself and that the Mayor’s supporters have ways of making those who disagree sound like fairytale tellers when all we write are facts and documentation. Steve asked who prepared the SEPA checklist for the Breeding’s Addition project? Joyce stated that she did. Mayor Echanove stated that the DOE knows our sewer plant and the Breeding’s extension is helping our community thrive. If Mr. McGehee doesn’t like our project, he doesn’t like our project. Steve stated that “It has nothing to do with the project; I’m in favor of the project.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin reported they’ve been concentrating on the Alder St. project; things are going as planned. The new skid steer is working great. They completed the annual road oiling. In regards to asphalt and debris being removed from Alder Street, it is being stockpiled in the school parking lot to be removed and recycled by the paving contractor. The H Street debris is being removed by Motley & Motley as part of their contract.
POLICE DEPARTMENT REPORT: Chief Neumann presented the monthly police activity log.
CTED Grant – Harley Purchase: We received notification that we were awarded the CTED grant money of $9,999. The book on that bike is close to $17,000, but Columbia Harley is offering a reduced price of $14,500. Jon Fleischman asked if we have the $4,500 plus tax in the police budget. The budget is $15,000 in Police Vehicle Reserve. Chief Neumann and Officer Dentler are both qualified to use the Harley. Councilmember Bagott thinks that makes it easier to justify. Chief Neumann stated that it’s a limited use vehicle that will bring something special to Palouse. Councilmember Milano stated that the bike will hold its value. Councilmember Bagott asked when another police vehicle is scheduled to be purchased. Within two years, as we’re able to recoup money into the police car reserve fund. USDA rural development has matching funds available for a vehicle. Dixie Reber thought it odd that the USDA has any involvement in police and fire department grants. Councilmember Milano MOVED , and second by Councilmember O’Neill authorizing Chief Neumann to proceed with the purchase of the Harley Davidson. Motion carried unanimously. Councilmember Wekenman thinks it is a valuable tool if used properly.
There was discussion on local kids neglecting to wear bike helmets. The PD did all kinds of education in the schools about that and gave out helmets. They talk to kids when they see them not wearing helmets.
Councilmember Wekenman stated that the bench on Shady Lane looks like it has been pulled out of its concrete footings. Dwayne will take a look at it.
NEW BUSINESS :
Ordinance 857 . An ordinance of the COP amending ordinance No. 854, amending certain funds within the 2009 Annual Budget. Mayor read ordinance in its entirety. Though the Integrated Planning Grant for the Brownfields is 100% funding for the city, we incur the expense and then get reimbursed by Ecology. The full amount of the expenditure must be budgeted. Councilmember Wekenman asked if there is any other fund that might come close to being appropriate besides the CDBG Fund. Yes, it could be accounted for in the General Fund – Current Expense. Councilmember Wekenman asked if we are in any kind of auditor violation using the CDBG fund? No (the program income for the CDBG program in Palouse was released at around 1989). By keeping it in CDBG instead of the general fund, will be easier to track. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt ordinance 857. Councilmember Snook seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
2010 Levy. Our current pool levy is $26,000. We have $59,000 allocated for the pool which we aren’t going to spend all of. The pool levy covers about half of what it costs to actually maintain and operate. Councilmember Snook said given the economy to leave the levy at 26K. Councilmember Milano reluctantly suggested a small incremental increase. Our reserves are dwindling down. Clerk Beeson said they’re doing a good job of holding down the pool payroll and costs. Councilmember Bagott asked if residents outside the city limits pay to use the pool. Several residents make donations. Supt. Griffin is going to put in a secured donation box. Trying to charge for pool use doesn’t pay, even when we were charging for passes we were only getting around $5,000 and it took many audit hours by the city staff and the state. An O&M levy has been much more effective in filling the gap. Councilmember Milano amended his comment if the city strives to incur more donations. Councilmember Snook MOVED that we instruct the clerk to go ahead with the 2010 Pool Levy at $26,000. Second by Councilmember Bagott. Motion carried unanimously.
Street Levy . Councilmember Bagott stated that she thinks the Street Levy should remain at its current rate ($40,000) this year and consider a slight raise in the future given the cost of oil, material, and the condition of many of our streets. Councilmember Bagott MOVED that we instruct the clerk to go ahead with the 2010 Street Levy at $40,000. Councilmember Wekenman seconded and the motion carried unanimously. Dixie Reber stated that if the levy is just for street oiling then it’s just for dirt roads, and why would she want to vote for that. The levy states that it is for street improvements and street oiling.
General Levy . Mayor Echanove explained that the 2009 levy collection was for $2.23 per $1000. This levy does not go before the voters, as it is councilmatic. In 2009 city raised $106,018 through the general levy (update-the actual amount levied was $103,584 which does not include new construction). By law we’re allowed to have an increase of 1%, which would be an increase of $1,060 ($1,036), bringing the total to $107,078 (104,620). This amount does not yet include new construction, improvement to property and other factors that are not yet known at this time.
The Mayor explained the meaning of banked capacity. It is an amount of money that is included in the Ordinance/Resolution that goes to the county but is not levied at that time for whatever reason. The most common reason is that the amount for new construction is not known until after the levy amounts are adopted by council. The city currently has a banked capacity of $9,194. This bank capacity has been approved to be levied but has not yet actually levied. Council can vote to take any portion of the banked capacity from zero to all. If all of the banked capacity is taken, it would be an increase of approximately 8.89 percent. Rick Gage suggested not collecting all the bank capacity at once. It will be more palatable for the residents if it’s incremental. The question was asked as to over what amount of time this banked capacity has accrued. That is unknown but Clerk Beeson stated that she cannot remember ever having used a banked capacity since 1994, when she started working for the city. Councilmember Snook MOVED to instruct the clerk to go ahead with the 1% increase + $2,300 (25%) of banked capacity for our 2010 general levy. Second by Councilmember Bagott. Councilmember Wekenman said we’ve typically gone with this 1% as long as he can remember. It’s the maximum allowed currently by state law. Prior to this it was a maximum of 6%. Motion carried unanimously.
OLD BUSINESS :
Brownfields Update : Committee met June 30th, with Maul Foster Alongi. They talked about how they are going to proceed. They’re gathering data right now and there will be a late summer community meeting for input. They will strive to make this project feasible and realistic. The citizen committee met on July 6th with DOE. Statistical data and logistics for value of site was discussed. Last week they began putting together the acquisition strategy.
H Street Update : Construction has begun. Munir wanted the public to know that the position of the sidewalk is to fit the future reconstruction of H Street, not what’s there right now. It’s going to be higher by an inch or two. The street isn’t exactly straight but the sidewalks will be straight.
Dixie Reber asked if she’ll be able to access her neighborhood if Alder and H Street are closed. Supt. Griffin explained that she can use J, K, Bridge or the state highway.
PARKS, CEMETERY, & BUILDINGS:
RV Park opens this Friday.
Recreation Conservation Office had their board meeting and approved the grant for the Little People’s Park Project play equipment. Mike will review it and talk with Joyce and Stephen to see what we need to do next.
Park electrical was completed. Pete Hertz has heard a lot of positive comments about the gazebo. Lions club is going to add benches to gazebo.
STREETS & SIDEWALKS:
Councilmember Bagott met with Supt. Griffin to discuss the Six Year Street Plan. There will be changes to the priorities of the existing projects and a new project will be added, West Whitman from Bridge St to Mill St. West Whitman from Mill to Illinois is still on the list. If anyone has any other suggestions, let Darcie Bagott know. She’ll have pictures and explanation at the next meeting which will include a public hearing.
WATER & SEWER:
Andy O’Neill and Dwayne met with property owners to discuss w/s hook-ups for the new house they’re putting in Breeding’s Addition in August.
POLICE, FIRE & SAFETY;
Councilmember Wekenman said the Grain Growers would like to put up new signage in the area to help the truckers understand what to do. He asked if the city would allow them to put up a 4’x 8’ sign on city property on West Main Street and what the procedure would be. Joyce said they would have to review code on a private enterprise sign on city property. Councilmember Wekenman stated that they would not want to set a precedent that would get out of hand. Jon Fleischman asked what purpose the sign would serve. Rick explained that truckers never know where to go. It’s confusing down there and it is difficult for them to turn around if they go the wrong way.
MAYOR’S REPORT :
Liquor Board Request from Bank Left Gallery for in-house beer and wine license renewal. With no objections, there is no further action, the license will be renewed.
COP received an inter-local agreement from the county for use of Whitman County’s public works and professional services roster. It will be discussed at the next meeting. One question asked was that if we sign this agreement, must we always use their roster or can we choose use our own.
Mayor stated that when he receives emails regarding city issues, as standard operating procedure, he will forward to city staff so that everyone is informed and there is no doubt as to what was said.
The issue of people illegally crossing the double-yellow lines on Main Street has come up again. The PD stops people weekly for this offense to educate them. Chief Neumann stated that not all towns in Whitman County enforce it the same way. COP has a city ordinance prohibiting it from H St. to Mary St. but we don’t have signage. The PD takes the soft approach in an attempt to educate the perpetrators. “We will enforce the violation as we see it. Every time we see it [while on duty] we will contact them.” Councilmember Wekenman said unless we can have a cop on every corner 24 hours a day, there’s not much we can do [about the erratic driving offenses]. Rick Gage said the stop sign at Main & Bridge (heading west) is partially hidden. He has witnessed two people speed through it. COP has a blinking light above the sign, and ‘STOP’ painted on the road. There is little else that the state will allow.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember O’Neill MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ADJOURN: Councilmember O’Neill MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.
The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid 1467-1514 $72,033.75
Payroll Paid 1409, 1431-1466; 1408 VOID $49,382.13
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________