Palouse City Council
Regular Council Meeting
March 24, 2015
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:01 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Doreen Hanson; Bo Ossinger; Mike Hicks; Senja Estes; & Rick Wekenman. Councilmembers Bev Pearce and Christopher Langsett are absent. Councilmember Estes MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Hanson, to excuse their absences. Motion carried unanimously. Staff present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Joe Merry; Clerk-Treasurer Mike Bagott; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 10, 2015. Councilmember Hicks seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin submitted a written report. Public Works will begin repairing the water line to the pool as soon as the parts arrive.
Public works supt. Dwayne Griffin went out on Sunday to repair a sewer line plug.
PW is gathering numbers to measure the influent for the new DOE testing requirements. It is hoped that the information gathered from this testing will satisfy DOE and allow us to avoid the installation of costly inflow meters.
Officer Snead has resigned his ¾ time paid officer position effective April 30, 2015. Chief Neumann would like council approval to open that position and make it full-time. Chief Neumann thinks we could hire an officer from Idaho because Idaho officers are frequently looking for employment in Washington due to better wages than Idaho. He would like to advertise the position as opening at $3,000/month plus benefits for a total of $49,023/year. Then raise the pay in January 2016. Chief would like to hire a lateral officer, someone who has already gone through academy. The policing contract with Garfield is what pays for this third officer. Officer Merry is looking at retiring within the next few years too so we need to act on this. Current contract with Garfield is through Dec. 2017. Chief Neumann and Officer Merry both believe Garfield council is positive about continuing the police contract, however, if down the road Garfield doesn’t want the contract anymore, Palouse would have to lay off the third officer and go back to two officers for just Palouse. Councilmember Hicks is concerned with allotting an additional minimum of $6,200+ out of the general fund to go from a ¾ time officer to full time; he’d like to see it remain a ¾ position. What if public works needs something? They’re working with outdated equipment. CT Bagott explained that while there is a surplus this year in the general fund, the overall long-term health of the general fund is more concerning than the immediate future. Revenues are going to be flat. The housing situation could be a sizable net in a few years. Mayor said the surplus in current expense is due to the fact that we guard it. CT Bagott said it’s very unlikely we’ll get someone for the amount currently budgeted for Officer Snead and we will most likely exceed the amount currently budgeted for law enforcement in the general fund. Keeping an officer at ¾ will stay in budget. Plus we’d purchase new officer’s uniforms, supplies, etc. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to allow Chief Neumann to advertise this 1.0 FTE position beginning at $3,000/month + benefits. Councilmember Hanson seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
While preparing payroll in February, CT Bagott noticed an error in the L & I rates for employees in the administrative category. L & I was actually paid the proper amounts, but they were paid by the administrative employees whose rates were input wrong in our software. For all of 2014, administrative employees were overpaying their L&I by a factor of 10. CT Bagott did a very detailed analysis. The total overpayment for all employees in the administrative category was $2,355.66. BIAS recommended correcting it out of this year’s budget so we don’t have to go back into the now closed and balanced 2014 budget. Those employees who overpaid will be getting reimbursed. Councilmember Wekenman MOVED that CT Bagott make the appropriate corrections to the L&I contribution discrepancy for 2014. Councilmember Hanson seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
JFB REPORT: Financial end we’re on target thus far. 0 fire calls in February, 4 YTD. 2 fire meetings held in March. They interviewed four candidates for FD and all four were hired. Brush truck 413 had some electrical problems; Bagott Motors is looking into it. They signed the retainer agreement with Atty. Bishop; costs are the same but court representation fees went up. They’re looking into parking barriers for the parking lot at the PSB. A motion-activated light for the parking area has been installed. 8 EMS calls Jan./Feb.
Jeff Guyett, Executive Director of Community Action Center to discuss community needs assessment: Mission is working with low- and moderate-income families throughout Whitman County. Every three years they’re required to do a community needs assessment survey. In order to get a clear picture, all income levels are encouraged to take the survey. The CAC provides numerous programs to help local residents. CAC’s perception of Palouse is a “community that cares”. The CAC will be working with City Hall soon to get the word out about the survey.
RV Park credit card processing: Deputy Clerk Thompson has researched fees being charged by the credit card company for every RV Park transaction. First Data’s rates are better than what we currently pay through Merchant Services. For example, on a $50 transaction, our fee would drop from $1.83 to $1.29. There is no charge to switch and there is no contract. DC Thompson thinks it’s a simple way to save a little money. Councilmember Hanson MOVED to authorize the city to switch from Merchant Services to First Data. Councilmember Estes seconded. Motion carried unanimously.
Police, Fire, & Safety, Chair Wekenman- The committee is considering getting new and updated cameras for certain areas of town. One of the things that brought it to light was last month’s attempted child abduction in Sprague, WA. Surveillance cameras helped bring that to a rapid close. Chief Neumann would like cameras on the PD, park, sewer plant, and a few places on Main Street. Councilmember Wekenman thinks it’s time for a little extra security around town; we’ve had consistent problems over the years with vandalism at the bathrooms and at the bridge at the park. Chief Neumann will research the cameras and pricing and he’ll also look at grant opportunities for purchasing the cameras.
Personnel & Pool, Chair Pearce- Committee met. School gets out June 15 and pool will open June 20. City will be advertising soon for hiring of new pool manager and lifeguards; anyone interested, including returning lifeguards, will need to apply. All returning lifeguards will be given a $.40 increase in pay ($.15 minimum wage increase + $.25 raise). New lifeguards will receive $9.50/hr. and the new pool manager will receive $11.50/hr. For safety reasons, the pool and all access areas to it will be getting new locks. Do-not-duplicate keys will be checked out to pool staff every summer and must be checked back in with city prior to receiving final paycheck.
Nancy Whitesell, in regard to the skatepark committee’s plans for an amphitheater, stated her case about noise violations. By the skatepark’s own flier they intend on having powered, amplified music in a residential zone. She also presented statistics regarding the potential for devaluation of properties within close proximity of the park.
Ed McLachlan, asked why they need to have music at the skatepark; there can be music at the park.
Aaron Flansburg reported their fundraising event was very successful. They made over $10,000 in gross receipts. Aaron showed council their proposed skatepark plans. A large part of the proposed skatepark is actually in city right-of-ways on the east end. Aaron said he just learned last week that the property wasn’t entirely theirs. Mayor backed Aaron stating he believes this was an innocent oversight on the skatepark committee’s end. The easements all have to be explored. A survey and/or pins will be required. If the city decides to let them use city right-of-ways, there will have to be many legal things written up, i.e., hold harmless clause; etc. And the moving of an Avista power pole will be between the skatepark committee and Avista; the city will have no responsibility/liability/costs for that. Aaron said the amphitheater would only be used during daylight hours. Aaron countered Nancy Whitesell’s claims with various statistics, comparing noise levels with lawnmowers, grain trucks, etc.
Connie Newman. We are an incorporated, non-profit. We have a board. We should’ve picked a different word than amphitheater; there’s no shell behind it; we’re not amplifying it. We are trying to honor what this community has shown us they stand for: art, music, beautification, etc. We foresee library events there, Boy Scout events, drama programs. Loud concerts weren’t on the list of what we envisioned. Nancy Whitesell has been invited to attend the meetings. Connie Newman is eager to follow all the steps to get the property lines figured out and taken care of in the right way.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Estes MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ADJOURN: Councilmember Hanson MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 9:08 PM.
The following checks are approved for payment:
Claims Paid 3/24/15 Ck. #6426-#6446 $12,944.09
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________