SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING – DRAFT ONLY
November 9, 2010
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:03 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Cecil Floyd; Mike Milano; Connie Newman; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; & Randy Zehm. Absent: Rick Wekenman. Councilmember Schorzman MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Zehm, to excuse Councilmember Wekenman for work-related emergency. Also present: Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Officer Joe Merry; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Pete Hertz, Dean Huber, Gary Dicus, Darrel Goertzen, Mike Bagott, Darcie Bagott, Emily Bagott, Doreen Hanson, Kathy Wilson, Ami Kramer, David Mayhan, Cindi Mayhan, Karen Fealy, Lesa Neumann, Gerry Eickhoff, Dana Anderson, Kathy Vogeler, Bev Pearce, Linda DeWitt, Judy Finch, Wayne DeWitt, Tracy Milano, JoAnn Miller, Marie Dymkoski, Jeslyn Lemke, Paula Parkins, Jon Fleischman, Lisa Askins, John Askins, Lynn Youngblood, Karmin Jacobs, Quinton Jacobs, Cheryl Johnson, Mike Dymkoski, Steve McGehee.
PUBLIC HEARING : Public Hearing for the 2011 Preliminary Budget called to order at 7:04 pm. No comments. Closed Public Hearing at 7:05.
Councilmember Milano thanked the citizens of Palouse for passage of the Street and Pool maintenance levies. He then outlined the proposed budget and pointed out areas of concern. The reserve balance in the EMS fund is nearly gone. The EMS levy will be on the ballot in 2011 which, if passed, will help to build this fund back up. The current rate structure in our water and sewer funds are simply not keeping up with expenses. The reserves in these funds will be used up in the next year if we don’t increase revenue. There is an estimated revenue drop of $325,000. Appropriations are down by 22%. The city staff hasn’t had raises in two years which is a troubling trend with the rise in the cost of living. Clerk-Treasurer Beeson reminded all that this is a preliminary budget and is still under construction. Councilmember Newman asked about the discrepancy between the JFB’s actual expenditures in 2010 and appropriations. Clerk-Treasurer Beeson explained it’s because the fire department grant for turnouts won’t be spent until 2011.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Mayor Echanove reminded council that the minutes are written as a summary and are not expected to be verbatim.
Councilmember Zehm asked that the 10/26/10 minutes under Police Report be amended as follows: “Councilmember Zehm asked Chief Neumann a series of questions covering several topics. Q. You as an officer with over 20 years of experience, why did you not know to get a signed runaway form from the parents? A. Eighteen years at my previous agency the dispatch center did that. Q. Have you been through Access training? A. Yes. I’m not current. Councilman Zehm then informed the council that Access training informs you that a signature is required to have a child entered into WACIC and NCIC as a runaway. Q. Do you have cable TV at the PD and who pays for it? A. Yes. It is at no cost; it is provided by the same cable company that provides it for the fire station. Q. If the motorcycle program was brought in as a tool to reach out to kids, was this piece of equipment used to reach out to this kid? (in reference to Dylan Mayhan). A. Excuse me? Q. Do you play cards with city staff at city hall during the day? A. On occasion during lunch break. Councilman Zehm asked Chief Neumann if instead of playing cards he could have been out looking for Dylan Mayhan. Clerk Beeson stated that this is not the proper venue for these types of questions. Councilman Zehm stated that he had received these questions from members of the community. The mayor then referred to Councilman Zehm as a deputy. Councilman Zehm told the mayor that he is a councilman in this venue. The mayor replied by saying, deputy.”
Councilmember Newman clarified that at the 10/26/10 council meeting she should have said she received two “concerns”, rather than two “complaints”.
Councilmember Floyd clarified for the 10/26/10 minutes that when he said “…working together with ALL the different agencies at one time” he didn’t mean that literally. He also mentioned the success stories of the COPS program in Spokane.
Councilmember Snook MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Schorzman to adopt the amended minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 26, 2010. Motion carried unanimously.
POLICE REPORT : Chief Neumann submitted the police log.
Renewal of Law Enforcement Contract for Garfield . The chief stated that there is no change in compensation for the first year, 1.5% increase for second year and 1.5% increase in the third year for this three year contract. Councilmember Milano MOVED to authorize the mayor to sign the contract with Garfield for police services. Councilmember Snook seconded. Councilmember Zehm read aloud a statement he and Councilmember Schorzman wrote stating the reasons they oppose the contract with Garfield and their desire to go back to a 1-man police department. Councilmember Floyd asked for an explanation of the term “community-oriented policing” in the contract. Chief Neumann explained it as a small-town style of policing and interacting with the community. Councilmembers Zehm and Schorzman voted nay. Motion carried.
NEW BUSINESS : Whitman Co. Prosecutor, Denis Tracy: As a result of community concerns regarding illegal drug use and other illegal activities at 320 W. Mohr Street here in Palouse, Denis Tracy asked to come to council in an effort to explain what his office does in general and to answer specific concerns. Part of their job is prosecuting crimes in Whitman County, which in this case involves the Quad Cities Drug Task Force (QCDTF). The QCDTF is a group of law enforcement agencies that investigate drug crimes in 4 different counties, including Whitman. Mr. Tracy said he wants to assist in enforcing the law within the confines of his job but there are limits to what he can do.
A prolonged Q & A session followed between the audience and Mr. Tracy. Mr. Tracy made it clear that if a particular criminal is having an inordinate impact on a community, he wants to hear about it because he will give their cases an extra level of scrutiny. He will inform his office of these particular residents and the need for extra focus on them. Further stating he has informed the QCDTF that his office won’t consider deals with these residents. It was suggested by the audience that Sheriff Brett Myers be invited to council to hear concerns from the community.
Citizens voiced concerns about a burglary and stolen dog case that was sent to the prosecutor’s office involving the residents of 320 W Mohr St. Mr. Tracy recapped that Palouse PD did an investigation, developed probable cause, and obtained a search warrant. Because of a technical glitch in the search, the perpetrator was only convicted of possession of stolen property and sentenced to two months. If he had been convicted of burglary he may have gotten up to 12 months. The PA looked at all the facts, including the technical issue on the search brought up by the defense. The prosecutor’s office advised that there was a risk that if they pursued a burglary conviction, it would’ve been dismissed on a technicality so it was reduced to possession. Officer Merry explained this resident took the dog to enable himself to burglarize the house where he stole over $23,000 worth of property. Officer Merry explained that when the Palouse PD forwards a case it’s because they are serious about prosecution and they made that clear to the Deputy Prosecutor they spoke to. Steve McGehee asked who was in charge of the investigation of the burglary crime scene and what were the potential deficiencies in the search? Mr. Tracy answered that there was a technical issue of the retrieval of the stolen guns. He stated that he is in no way critical of the Palouse PD’s handling of that case. Often they see technicalities with search warrants.
OLD BUSINESS :
Ordinance No. 876 : Closing Cemetery Reserve fund 303. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. All funds held in the Cemetery Reserve Fund will be transferred to the Cemetery fund. Cemetery fees shall be receipted to the Cemetery Fund. Councilmember Milano MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Snook, adopting Ord. 876. Motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 877 : Closing Contingency Reserve fund 312. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. All funds held in this fund will be transferred to Current Expense. Councilmember Milano MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Snook to adopt Ordinance No. 877. Motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 878 : Closing Insurance Contingency fund 314. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. All funds held in the Insurance Contingency Reserve Fund will be transferred to Current Expense. Councilmember Milano MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Zehm to adopt Ordinance No. 878. Motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 879 : Closing Public Safety Building fund 323. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. Councilmember Milano MOVED to adopt Ord. No. 879, seconded by Councilmember Zehm. Motion carried unanimously. Clerk Beeson amended the ordinance to include a Section 2, stating all funds will be transferred to Current Expense. Councilmember Milano MOVED to modify the ordinance as amended by Clerk Beeson. Councilmember Zehm seconded and the motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 880 : Closing Public Safety fund 625. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. Councilmember Milano MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Snook. Motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 881 : Amending certain funds in the 2010 annual budget. Mayor read aloud the ordinance in its entirety. Councilmember Milano reviewed the budget message, stating that for the most part these are transactions necessary in closing the funds as voted. Clerk Beeson said we are also making a $40,000 principal payment to the AWB loan and a $4,750 interest payment for the Interfund loan. Councilmember Milano MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Snook to adopt Ordinance No. 881. Motion carried unanimously.
Ordinance No. 882 : Review of establishing procedures for the adoption of Rules of Conduct in the City Parks; & Resolution No. 2010-18 : Rules of Conduct to be enforced within the City’s parks.
Councilmember Schorzman MOVED , seconded by Councilmember Zehm to table until the next council meeting the readings and work on Ord. 882 and Resolution 2010-18. Motion carried unanimously.
Streets & Sidewalks-Cecil Floyd, Chair: Been talking with WSDOT to see if we can secure preventative access to the bridge on Church Street. WSDOT is very receptive and looking to us for recommendations for solutions.
Water & Sewer-Connie Newman, Chair: W/S funds have been operating at a loss for the last several years. The city has not been adjusting their rates to keep up with the rising expenses. The committee will be making their rate increase recommendations at the next council meeting. Andy O’Neill from RCAC will be here to speak. The rate increases we propose at that point will get us to about the break even point. As we develop long-term plans for the w/s programs, we’ll be looking at how to establish the appropriate money in our emergency and reserve funds. Cheryl Johnson asked about the reserve fund charges already on our bills. Clerk Beeson explained what is billed currently for the most part are making debt payments for the sewer plant and new city well. A small amount being billed is to maintain the current water and sewer system. A more in-depth explanation will be presented at the next meeting.
Mike Bagott stated he will be more than happy to pay the w/s rate increase. He expressed his appreciation with council’s forward thinking on the Breeding’s Addition Project. He appreciates people sticking their necks out and trying to make this town thrive and continue to grow.
Police, Fire, & Safety-Rick Wekenman, Chair : There will be a Fire board meeting next Monday and we will meet with Pullman to continue discussion regarding the ambulance contract.
Councilmember Newman reported the committee met two times over the course of the last two weeks. They discussed and reviewed all the questions from the last council meeting. They concluded the appropriate measures were taken in the investigation of Dylan Mayhan’s runaway case. The Palouse PD invites any and all citizens who have any questions or concerns regarding this case to contact them and they will discuss the public details of this case and answer questions.
Councilmember Floyd asked if the committee discussed a COPS or Blockwatch program. That is still on the agenda for their committee to discuss. It was asked if the public can attend the committee meetings. The committee meetings don’t have quorum so they don’t fall under the open public meetings act so it’s up to the committee as to whether to allow the public. Some of the information is confidential, particularly regarding open cases or minors.
Finance, Property, & Equipment-Mike Milano, Chair : Councilmember Milano asked that committee chairs review the proposed budget.
Councilmember Newman MOVED to extend the meeting. Councilmember Snook seconded to extend the meeting to 10:30 pm. Councilmember Schorzman voted nay. Motion carried.
OPEN FORUM : The mayor asked that questions from the audience be addressed to council rather than staff.
Gerry Eickhoff : On behalf of Erik Newman, Gerry read aloud a letter written to Denis Tracy and the Palouse City Council. In it he expresses his concerns regarding the Mohr Street house, asking what actions are being taken to rid Palouse of these people and their illegal activity.
Karen Fealy : Stated her concern that people are using the recent tragedy in an attempt to oust our Chief, forgetting that all this was happening before Chief Neumann arrived. She stated that as former police chief, Randy Zehm inherited this problem and Chief Neumann inherited it from him. She accused Zehm of trying to get rid of the current Chief/PD so the sheriff’s office can have Palouse.
Kathy Wilson : Clarified what she wanted to say last week. She thinks the tragedy happened last week because of that house. We don’t need to blame anyone but we do need to seek solutions to help resolve this issue. She stated that all three Palouse police officers have worked diligently to stop the problem. The community should not go out on a witch hunt looking for someone to blame. She asked the council to speak with the city’s attorney about the possibility of deeming that house a city nuisance.
Dave Mayhan : Asked why the Chief said “nothing to report” in his police report at a past meeting when his son was missing and he also asked who called CPS (Child Protective Services) on him. Councilmember Newman tried to address Dave’s questions. She stressed the importance of looking at the timeline concerning Dylan and the police department handling of the case. Regarding CPS, no one within the Palouse PD or City Staff had anything to do with reporting Dave to CPS.
MAYOR’S REPORT :
Liquor License Renewal for Bank Left Gallery – With no objections, it was approved by default.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS : Councilmember Zehm asked about the payment to the Bank of New York Mellon. Clerk Beeson explained it’s the sludge press loan. Councilmember Zehm MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Milano seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ADJOURN: Councilmember Schorzman MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Zehm seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 10:27 PM.
The following checks are approved for payment:
Payroll Paid Ck. No. 2678 – 2695 & EFT $37,469.94
Claims Paid Ck. No. 2696 – 2729 & EFT $31,473.76