November 14, 2017

Palouse City Council

PUBLIC HEARING:  Petition for street vacation

PUBLIC HEARING:  2018 Preliminary Budget

Followed by Regular Council Meeting

November 14, 2017

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

ROLL CALL:  Council members present:  Bill Slinkard; Mike Hicks; Senja Estes; Rick Wekenman; Mark Wilcomb; Bob Stout.  Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to excuse Councilmember Hanson’s absence.  Councilmember Estes seconded and the motion carried unanimously.  Staff present:  Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Joe Merry; Clerk-Treasurer Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.

PUBLIC HEARING:  Petition by Greg and Marcia Kessler to vacate portions of B and 7th Street in Breeding’s Addition–  Public present for the Public Hearing:  Petitioners Greg & Marcia Kessler, Dennis Griner.  Mayor opened the hearing at 7:02 pm.  All the Street Vacation Procedures and Policy have been followed, proper paperwork filed, and application fee paid.  Q&A.  The city will maintain an easement for the property.  Councilmember Hicks MOVED to approve the Kessler’s petition to vacate a portion of 7th & B Street in Breeding’s Addition as in application packet.  Councilmember Wilcomb seconded.  Motion carried unanimously.  Mayor closed the public hearing at 7:20 pm.

PUBLIC HEARING:  2018 Preliminary Budget–  Mayor opened the public hearing at 7:21 pm.  No public comments.  Mayor closed the public hearing at 7:22 pm.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 10, 2017.  Councilmember Slinkard seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:  Supt. Griffin submitted a written report.  Councilmember Hicks had an end-of-year meeting with Supt. Griffin. Our dump truck is in dire need of replacement and Supt. Griffin is looking for a used one.  The city has money set aside for purchase in 2018.


Haunted Palouse went well, no real problems.  We had three extra officers helping both weekends.

Snow tires we had had in storage were remounted and put on two patrol cars.

Officer Merry’s last day is November 30th.

There will be a new Garfield mayor beginning January so many current issues are kind of on hold including the police contract with Garfield.  Chief Neumann will keep Palouse informed.


CT Dixon met with Apollo today who did a lighting audit on all city buildings.  They will come back with recommendations for reducing energy thus our costs later on this year or early next year.

West Whitman Street update:  CT Dixon spoke with contractor M.L. Albright and their sub Curtis Concrete said curbs will be done by end of this week.  Avista says lights needed are backordered for months due to both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, as replacing infrastructure in those areas takes precedence.  Avista is hoping to have lights installed in December.

2018 wage/budget discussion:  The finance committee (Stout, Wekenman, Slinkard) met a few times to discuss 2018 budget and wages.  As per Councilmember Stout, their stance is that it’s important to take care of city employees to help ensure retention and long-term service.  Police work isn’t glamorous and because of the low starting pay, no one is applying for our open police officer position.  We need a solid three-man force to keep up with our two cities.  Committee advocates for the employee-proposed wages.  Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the employee raises as such: 2018:  Griffin 8%; Myott 10%; Dixon 15%; Thompson 8%; Neumann 12%; Handley 15%; New officer 6%.  2019 & 2020:  2.5% COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) for all, with the understanding that 2018 is the only year locked in; COLA for 2019, 2020 may be more or less.  Councilmember Stout seconded the motion.  Budget projections look good.  Budget is healthy, new houses going in, higher tax base, etc. and committee thinks we can maintain this rate of pay.  Mayor Echanove is completely against this proposal and doesn’t think it’s sustainable budget-wise nor prudent.  Mayor wants a 5%, 3%, 3% across the board.  Councilmember Stout said those numbers don’t really apply because 3,3 is just COLA, just keeping up, it’s not a merit raise.  Much discussion ensued.  Councilmember Wilcomb thinks we should pay our people well and tighten our belts elsewhere.  Councilmembers Wekenman, Stout, and Slinkard voted yes.  Councilmembers Wilcomb, Estes, and Hicks voted no.  Tie vote so Mayor breaks tie and voted no.   Discussion continued in depth.  Councilmember Wilcomb MOVED to propose for 2018:  8% across the board, with the following exceptions:  new police officer hire 6% to $44,000, CT Dixon 11% to $46,000, Officer Handley 8% plus an additional 5% upon promotion to Officer-in-charge (replacing Officer Merry upon his retirement).  2019:  subject to available funding, 5% for all.  2020:  subject to funding, 3% to all.  Councilmember Hicks seconded.  Councilmembers Slinkard, Hicks, Estes, and Wilcomb voted yes.  Councilmembers Stout and Wekenman voted nay.  Motion carried.

At 10 pm Councilmember Hicks MOVED to extend council for 30 minutes.  Councilmember Slinkard seconded.  Motion carried.


Update from Varela & Associates and Dept. of Ecology regarding facility plan for WWTP:  Dana Cowger from Varela & Associates gave a very detailed update on the DOE’s information regarding the WWTP.  DOE has significantly tempered their position on discharging into the river from their August 2017 stance.  DOE is wrestling with their own internal questions on water quality standards.  Now DOE is leaving the decision in the city’s hands.  They suggested city complete facility plan with inclusion of toxics discussion.  City needs to now decide how to proceed with the Wastewater Facility Plan. DOE received the city’s 16-month extension request but has not replied yet given DOE’s change in their standards and stance:  does the city wish to instead proceed with our original plan submittal, change plan or still want the extension?  When DOE policy is so vague it’s difficult for city to know how to proceed; we don’t want to waste time and money when DOE doesn’t know exactly what it is they want and their standards can’t be met.  Treatment options were discussed.  Much discussion and Q & A ensued.  City will resubmit an extension request with modifications to our original letter, specifically that we aren’t going whole-hog on no discharge into the river.  City wants to stay the course, get our extension, and refine where we want to go, how we will pay for it, etc.  Councilmember Hicks MOVED to allow Mayor Echanove to sign new letter of extension to the DOE for our WWTP.  Councilmember Stout seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

Update on funding applications for water tower and water system improvements–  CT Dixon spoke with Michelle Bly of TD&H.  Rural Development isn’t going to have an answer on our funding package on our water reservoir for another month.  DOH application is due at the end of November and we won’t know Rural Development’s answer by then.  DOH app can be submitted at no additional cost.  With council approval we’d like to start working on the DOH application independent of the Rural Development application.  Councilmember Wekenman MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Wilcomb, authorizing TD&H to proceed with DOH funding application and for the mayor to sign any required documents relating to its submittal.  Motion carried unanimously.


Resolution 2017-12: Updating city fee schedule:  There are two changes to the fee schedule to take effect January 1, 2018:  The RV Park rate will increase to $30/night from $25.  Potlatch & Moscow RV Parks charge $30/night, Boyer charges $45/night, and Pullman charges $25/night.  The second change is a fee increase to building permits.  The city is still using 2002 valuations and fees so the city is long overdue for increasing fees.  We will still be under Whitman County’s 2014 rates and the International Building Code’s 2017 rates.  Councilmember Hicks MOVED to adopt Resolution 2017-12 as written.  Councilmember Estes seconded.  Motion carried unanimously.


Mayor read aloud a thank you note from Marc Arrasmith thanking all of us for the retirement gifts and party.

Mayor read aloud a thank you note from Janet Barstow thanking city staff for all their work during Haunted Palouse.

Mayor received two letters of interest for the vacancy on the Palouse Planning Commission:  Tim Doebler and Jim Fielder.  Both men are excellent candidates.  Mayor has selected Tim Doebler to fill the current vacancy.  Councilmember Hicks MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Slinkard, to ratify the mayor’s appointment of Tim Doebler to the Planning Commission.  Motion carried unanimously.

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

The following checks are approved for payment:

Claims Paid      10/24/17            Ck. #8675-8711 & EFT                          $ 19,566.35

Payroll Paid      10/31/17            Ck. #8643, & 8712-8728 & EFT              $ 44,358.50

Claims Paid      11/14/17            Ck. #8730-8768 & EFT                          $129,698.30

VOID:                                       Ck. 8729

ADJOURN:  Councilmember Estes MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember Hicks seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 10:18 PM.

APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________