Palouse City Council
Public Hearing &
Regular Council Meeting
July 9, 2013
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Senja Estes; Tim Jones; Connie Newman, Bo Ossinger, Rick Wekenman and Alison Webb. Absent: Norm Schorzman. Also present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; Public Works Dwayne Griffin and Marc Arrasmith. Public present: Aaron Flansburg, Heather McGehee, Kristin Jones, Heidi Fluegel, Garth Meyer, Katie Cooper, Jens Hegg and Bruce Beeson.
2014 Revenue sources – Mayor Echanove opened the public hearing and recapped council discussion from the last meeting concerning options for 2014 revenue sources. Palouse resident Aaron Flansburg voiced his support of a levy lid lift. With no further comment from the public, Mayor closed the public hearing and opened council discussion.
The Mayor explained how a voter approved levy lid lift works. The general levy in 2013 was approx. $2.49 per $1,000 valuation. The city has the capacity of collecting $3.10 per $1,000. By law, cities are able to increase only 1% of the total amount levied each year without going out to the voters. Over the years, as valuations change and only 1% increases are taken, the rate per thousand continues to drift down below capacity. Currently 65% of the levy stays in the General Fund and 35% is receipted to the Street Fund.
The Joint Fire Board and the Council Police Fire & Safety committee have expressed concern for their aging vehicles and being able to meet equipment safety requirements. They have set a goal of having $150,000 available to them over the next 10 years to meet the capital needs of the fire department. Councilmember Wekenman explained that with this being a joint department, Rural fire district 4 residents would also contribute $150,000 to share in the total costs. Resident Aaron Flansburg asked if this decision would include allocating a certain amount to the fire equipment needs. Mayor explained that the discussion tonight was about revenue, but yes, if a levy lid lift were to be approved by the voters, a resolution could be approved by council dedicating 10% of the general levy to the Fire Equipment Capital fund to meet the goal of the fire department. It would also help the General Fund in supporting current needs such as bringing back the police officer from 75% to 100%, restoring the employee salaries reduced two years ago, maintaining our parks and cemetery, and contributing into our vehicle and equipment needs. Several Councilmembers voiced their support for putting the levy lid lift on the November ballot. Councilmember Ossinger MOVED to proceed with the necessary paperwork to put the levy lid lift on the November ballot. Councilmember Jones seconded the motion. Discussion – Councilmember Wekenman pointed out that a property valued at $100,000 would be levied an additional $60 a year above the 2013 levy amount. The motion carried unanimously.
Voter approved special levies – Discussion began on the Swim pool maintenance & operation special levy for $28,000. Councilmember Jones MOVED to continue with the special pool levy at $28,000. Councilmember Ossinger seconded the motion. Discussion- Councilmember Newman would still like to have community input on charging a fee at the door in addition to the levy. Councilmember Jones said it has been looked into and it seems that the costs associated with collecting a fee may exceed the benefit. Motion carried unanimously.
The special levy for street improvements is currently $40,000. This amount is barely enough to oil the gravel roads, crack seal, and rebuild 1 block a year. Five or six years ago, it would have done 4 blocks. Councilmember Jones said the finance committee met and recommends that the Street levy stay at 40k this year but consider an increase next year. Councilmember Newman would like to see an incremental increase every year to keep up with costs. Mayor Echanove asked if council would consider a 10% increase, bringing it to $44,000. After further discussion, Councilmember Webb MOVED to continue with the special street improvement levy and increase the dollar amount by 10% to $44,000. Councilmember Newman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Newman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of June 25, 2013. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Superintendent Griffin reported that the gravel roads were oiled and the TIB pavement preservation project for overlay is underway. The variable frequency drive was installed on the booster pump. The pool is operating fairly well with the new chlorine system installed. The compost area has been busy and going well. The town of Garfield will be borrowing our grader and an hourly rate will be determined.
POLICE REPORT: Chief Neumann reported an increase in traffic issues and domestic calls but for the most part all is fairly normal for this time of year.
Discussion of proposed Skatepark and location options – Mayor updated council that since the last meeting, Aaron Flansburg staked out a site between the pool and basketball courts and held a meeting there for discussion and community input. Councilmember Newman said that the skatepark group has been working toward the goal of building a park for 10 years. Her question to council is, if a site is approved, is the city interested in including and maintaining it as a city park? With all the potential location explored throughout town, the best option is the city park. The floor was turned over to Aaron Flansburg. He handed out a site map (attached) that showed two options at the city park. Option # 1 is the site between the pool and bb court. Option # 2 is north of the parking lot and between the walkway to the pool and the play area with the large slide. Aaron has been gathering info on each site – With # 1 an access would need to be maintained to allow Public Works and emergency access to the pool area and also access for Avista Utilities. Option # 2 would be close to the parking lot and the walkway to the pool. Aaron reads several comments from interested people abut the 2 options. The majority of them leaned to site # 1. Excerpts of several letters were read with the majority in support of the skatepark. He also received a pledge from Pepsi through Idaho Beverage to donate $2,000 if it is built in the city park. Council discussion and comments from the public ensued. Outlining some of the points that were made –
Aaron-Maintenance on concrete is rare with the only routine maintenance would be emptying trash cans.
Site # 1 is most preferred because the design would include flat concrete that could be used for access to the facilities and infrastructure. So far, $5,900 has been raised plus the $2,000 pledge if located in the city park. Estimated cost to build is about $10,000 because he would partner with a company that has experience in building skateparks with salvaged and recycled material.
Councilmember Wekenman would like to see drawings of what this would look like and voiced concern of more green space taken from the park.
Councilmember Jones voiced support for the skatepark and said that maintenance costs would go down since that area would not be mowed or watered. PW pointed out that sprinkler would still have to be installed to water the grassy strips around it.
Public comment both for and against-Bruce Beeson supports keeping the park as is and listed other parks and programs that the city couldn’t support and had to reduce. Kristin Jones-skateparks had a positive impact on their children and would like to see this as another option in town of things for kids to do. Heather McGehee agreed. Jens Hegg supports the skatepark and prefers site # 1 since the basketball courts have seen only a small amount of vandalism.
PW Griffin and Arrasmith have concerns of vandalism like is evident at the City of Pullman skatepark. Allen Davis, Pullman PW recommends that it needs to be visible, not near buildings and a day park only with no lights. Site # 1 is fairly hidden, is next to the pool building and lit at night. Also concerns of future maintenance.
Mayor Echanove took the floor. Attorney Bishop has suggested to the Mayor that Aaron Flansburg take out a performance bond at some point. Councilmember Newman would like to see drawings also but would need to have a preliminary site first to plan around. Councilmember Newman MOVED that council give preliminary approval for option # 2 with the contingency that artist’s rendering are made available in the next 60 days, that the group’s funds are shown to be there for phase one, that a performance bond is in place and that the design is reviewed and approved by our insurance carrier. Councilmember Ossinger seconded the motion. Discussion – Councilmember Jones questioned why not options # 1. Chief Neumann pointed out that option # 1 would be harder to secure, patrol, and access. The Mayor urged council to vote this down tonight with so many unanswered questions. Councilmember Newman said there are many unknowns but they cannot be answered without a potential site. Councilmember Estes asked Aaron if drafts could be provided of both sites. Yes, they may be rough but site is the most critical issue in design. Councilmember Ossinger asked for an amendment to the motion to not include a performance bond at this time with so many undecided elements. Amended MOTION that council give preliminary approval for option # 2 with the contingency that artist’s rendering are made available in the next 60 days, that the group’s funds are shown to be there for phase one and that the design is reviewed and approved by our insurance carrier. With two no votes, Councilmember Wekenman and Councilmember Webb, motion carried.
Update of Palouse Cove Road possible name change Mayor Echanove reported that he was unable to talk with the county about this yet. The name change would affect about 16 residents in Palouse who have been through the process once already.
Water & Sewer-Connie Newman, Chair: Councilmember Newman has set up a workshop with our audit manager Debbie Pennick. It is set for July 23rd at 5:30. This is training specific to governmental services finance and budgeting.
Streets & Sidewalks-Senja Estes, Chair: Out next meeting will include a public hearing for the Six-year Transportation Improvement Plan.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Ossinger MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Webb seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
With no motion to excuse tonight’s absence of Councilmember Schorzman, his absence is considered unexcused.
ADJOURN: Councilmember Jones MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Webb seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 8:58 PM.
The following checks are approved for payment:
Payroll Paid Ck. # 4956 – 4983 & EFT $39,972.98
Claims Paid Ck. # 4984 – 5007 & EFT $25,437.23
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________