Palouse City Council
Public Hearing – Shoreline Management Plan
Regular Council Meeting
October 13, 2015
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Doreen Hanson; Bo Ossinger; Mike Hicks; Senja Estes; Rick Wekenman; Bev Pearce; Christopher Langsett. Staff present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Joe Handley; Clerk-Treasurer Mike Bagott; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Planning Commission members present: Nicole Flansburg; Jeff Baldwin; Jay Iverson; Sharon Tharp; Lynne Nelson.
PUBLIC HEARING: Nicole Wood dropped off comments for the Shoreline Management Plan public hearing just prior to tonight’s hearing. City staff will forward her comments to our SMP consultants. Nicole Flansburg of the Planning Commission thinks the SMP is a well-crafted document and most of the people’s concerns will probably be grandfathered in by DOE. Sharon Tharp thanked Councilmember Wekenman for his efforts on the SMP. Public Hearing closed at 7:04 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Mayor had one correction under the Mayor’s Report: they toured the property adjacent to the new transit building in Moscow (not the actual building). Councilmember Wekenman MOVED to adopt the amended minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of September 22, 2015. Councilmember Langsett seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin submitted a written report.
POLICE REPORT: Had a property theft (chainsaw and gas can) in Palouse. The stolen items were found at a rental property in Palouse. The PD will be filing charges of possession of stolen property and trespassing.
All the PD equipment is operating well. Depending on weather, they may need snow tires this winter.
There have been a couple incidents lately of people trespassing on railroad property and train cars in Palouse. As a reminder, it’s a law that railroad tracks are considered private property and the railroad can prosecute you for trespassing. There are a lot of ways to get hurt on or near the tracks and equipment; please stay off of vacated train cars, etc.
Had six drug-related arrests in Garfield last two months.
Kent Nelson- Kent is doing his joint senior/Eagle Scout project here in Palouse. He will be painting 15 Palouse fire hydrants in the downtown corridor. He is estimating two hours for each hydrant when you consider all the prep work, etc. He will have a few other Scouts helping him. Due to that he will be sending information letters to neighbors of the fire hydrants so people don’t become concerned with kids messing around. Kent got approval of the color from Chief Bagott. He will be using green paint to go with the downtown city color scheme. He explained that there are three different colors for hydrants: green = best water pressure and flow, yellow = pipes are smaller with less flow, and red = even smaller. The total estimated cost is $100-$150. The city is paying for the paint however Kent’s church may go 50/50 with the city. Sherwin Williams paint experts told him to paint in above 50 degree Fahrenheit so he’s hoping to start this week or next. All of council supported his project. Clerk Treasurer Bagott praised Kent’s communication regarding the project.
3rd Quarter Treasurer’s Report/2016 preliminary budget report: CT Bagott is working on 2016 budget prep. It looks like we’re going to see ending balances that exceed what we were budgeting, some drastically, so we’re in a solid position financially. We’ve had a number of people come into the office expressing concerns over the city’s financial health. Debt: as of the payments we’ve made thus far we’re looking at a grand total debt of $52,221.42, $45,000 of that is the for the current sewer plant (only one payment remaining) and the well work done a number of years ago. Remaining debt is interfund debt. Street fund took a loan from the water fund for the backhoe last year. We only have two payments left totaling $7,647.75 with interest. Bottom line is we have less debt for the city as a whole than most citizens have. Cash & Investments had $278,000, LGIP had $660,000 for a total of just shy of $937,000. Of course not all of the money is available, but bottom line is the city is solid on the cash position and CT Bagott has no concerns. General Fund has been discussed recently as well. You see a lot of ebb and flow in the general fund. Since 2009 with a $133,784 high mark, and a low mark in 2013 of $55,590. His forecast for the 2015 general fund ending balance is $88,639.88, quite a bit higher than budgeted. Had to transfer $7,500 out of general fund this year to replace the second police vehicle, an unexpected expense due to a car accident, but just pulled it forward a few years from when it was scheduled to be replaced. The city also had a substantial loss of property tax value because of a decrease in RR property valuation. We started approximately $7,000 less than anticipated in the General Fund. Revenues are expected to be roughly the same next year. General fund is predominantly funded by property tax, sales tax, utility taxes, state shared funds. Assuming our businesses stay the same, our sales tax will be close to expectation, utility taxes are a mixed bag, and telephone revenue is down. State assistance will be up about $10,000 in revenue over what was projected. Building permit revenues are awesome. Mike will be conservative in his budgeting, but he has good reason to believe we’ll have good revenue for the next few years from building permits. When all 21 houses in the new development are built, Mike estimates we’ll have property values back in the vicinity they were in prior to the railroad revaluation. Most of the towns around don’t have that positive of an outlook. Palouse has potential for growth that many of the small towns don’t have. We will benefit where so many other towns will struggle. CT Bagott met separately with PW Supt. Griffin and Police Chief Neumann to discuss their 2016 budgets. PW is looking at replacing the zero-turn lawnmower next year and also purchasing a new locator from water/sewer funds. There will be 2016 budget hearings at both council meetings in November. Budget is usually adopted at first meeting in December.
CT Bagott and DC Thompson attended an AWC meeting in Pullman last week. Communities present were Palouse, Rosalia, Albion, Chewelah, Rockford, Pullman, and a couple others. A few common threads that all cities are facing: Fiscal sustainability because of a 1% property tax increase cap; paying prevailing wage; PRR’s; and loan funding. Trying to reenergize the infrastructure funding partnerships between the state and cities is an AWC priority. Overall we came away feeling pretty good about Palouse’s situation. The city is currently not receiving state distributions of marijuana taxes and will not in 2016.
CT Bagott submitted the grant letter to CERB for the WWTP on 9/28 and heard back on 10/1 that we passed first round. He and the Mayor have been invited to give their presentation to the board on November 19th. This is a great $50,000 grant opportunity.
CT Bagott will be attending the EWFOA meeting in Spokane this Friday.
CT Bagott and Mayor Echanove will be attending the IACC conference in Wenatchee next week on funding. They got scholarships to attend so just have to pay mileage and one night lodging.
No money has been expended through the 3rd Q from the police confidential informant fund.
Authorization to sign DOE funding application for Wastewater Facility Plan: The total estimated project cost for the plan Varela has provided is $167,670. It is possible to come in under that but they budget high so not to have any surprises. Because the CERB situation is hopeful but unknown, we’d like to submit this funding request from DOE for the entire amount. If CERB funding comes in, it will reduce the amount needed from DOE. We will also continue to look for other funding opportunities. In the aggregate we shouldn’t see any burden to the citizens on the planning side. Construction side there will be. Rockford got their whole $3+ million sewer plant funded with grants. Varela has been invaluable; they’re the ones who put all this together and sent this to DOE for comment, etc. This application is due Friday. Our planning documents have to be submitted December 2017 so this gives our consultants plenty of lead time. DOE doesn’t award until next summer so we won’t know for a while. Councilmember Estes MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Hanson, to authorize Mayor Echanove to sign the DOE funding application for the WW Facility Plan. Motion carried unanimously. We want to get another 20 years out of the next plant. PW will have a lot of input.
Policy & Administration, Chair Hanson- Councilmember Hanson expressed her views on her role as a councilmember. She will call a committee meeting when there’s a need but doesn’t feel the need to hold monthly meetings when there’s no cause. Nor does she feel it’s necessary to attend numerous trainings on the taxpayer’s dime and will attend trainings when she sees the need. Councilmembers Ossinger, Hicks, Estes, Pearce, and Langsett all concurred with Councilmember Hanson regarding themselves and their individual council roles as well.
Streets & Sidewalks, Chair Hicks- Councilmember Hicks nor city staff have received any feedback from anyone regarding his sidewalk letter that was emailed and posted September 10. Councilmember Wekenman pointed out that the gentle approach didn’t work so the next step will be to send letters directly to those households with obvious hazards. PW Supt. Griffin pointed out that our code is very specific on the requirements and also the penalties of non-compliance. Councilmember Hicks will begin drafting the letter and city staff will be taking notes and compiling a list of those homes to receive the letter. It will be ongoing. Councilmember Pearce recommended starting with the most-travelled sidewalks (Main Street), then the main arterials near the school and so on.
Parks, Cemetery, & Buildings, Chair Estes- Councilmember Estes tried without success to contact the owner of the Palouse Arms Apartments to follow-up on the stability concerns of the vacant building. She did speak with Building Inspector Gladwill. He is going to inspect it and will give an update at the next council meeting.
Since last council meeting 9/22/15 there have been $1,575 worth of RV reservations sold.
Police, Fire, & Safety, Chair Wekenman- Councilmember Wekenman just returned from vacation yesterday. There is a pending complaint from the Gaber’s against the PD and Mayor. Councilmember Wekenman had a cordial meeting with Jamie Gaber in person today. She said she has other documentation and has requested more time to provide it. Once she gathers her information, Rick will meet with the Gabers and the committee and follow up on the complaint. Just last week she sent an email stating she had a positive encounter with Officer Handley.
Personnel & Pool, Chair Pearce-
In anticipation of a lifeguard shortage next summer, Deputy Clerk Thompson has sent fliers and emails to the aquatic managers of the UI and the City of Pullman, the GP school counselor, and to the city list-serve. We’re trying to be proactive in finding enough staff. Applications will be accepted now until filled.
Mayor Echanove praised CT Bagott and the council for all their efforts and hard work.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Langsett MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Estes seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ADJOURN: Councilmember Pearce MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 8:25 PM.
The following checks are approved for payment:
Payroll Paid 9/30/15 Ck. Nos. 6922-6939, 6941, & EFT $43,036.93
Claims Paid Ck. Nos. 6921, 6940, 6942-6996, & EFT $27,362.12
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________