REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING – DRAFT ONLY
October 9, 2007
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Michael Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:02 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present were: Darcie Bagott; Mark Bailey; Mike Milano; Andy O’Neill; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook. Absent was: Rick Wekenman. Also present were: Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; and Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present were: Mike Bagott; Heather McGehee.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Mayor Echanove made a correction to the minutes of September 25, 2007. Under Old Business, 2008 Budget Discussion, change from “the plan is to be out to bid in January” to “December”. Mark Bailey MOVED to approve the amended minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of September 25, 2007. Mike Milano seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
OPEN FORUM : Mike Bagott was present to voice his concerns with numerous issues that he hears around town and reads about in the local paper. Mike made it clear that the opinions are his alone, not the FD or anyone else’s. His question and points were:
- For the benefit of the people of Palouse, he easily found the phone number for the sheriff’s office in 5 different places and on the internet. There is no reason someone would have to call 9-1-1 for a civil complaint when there is easy access to the sheriff’s phone number. Reminding all of us that 9-1-1 is not an answering service, and not a joke; it’s for emergencies only.
- He asked the council the number of citizens who have complained about access to the new PD. Council responded that only one citizen has complained. Mike then asked if ADA considerations were taken into account when looking into moving the PD to its current location. Council responded, “Yes, very much so” and that the city is in compliance with ADA.
- In regards to pay raises for city employees he asked how the process works. The Mayor responded that he, by law, presents a budget to council for consideration. This is done after preliminary figures are discussed with the staff. The actual salary requests are referred to the personnel committee. Mike then asked if any one council person has the ability to approve or prevent a city employee from getting a raise? The answer was no; it takes four council members to pass.
- As a citizen of Palouse, he appreciates Chief Neumann and Officer Ellsworth. Any time needed, both personally and professionally, they’ve responded and been very professional. He believes it to be a very thankless job in a small town. Mike then thanked Chief Neumann for all he and his department do. Mike Bagott further stated that, as a citizen, he believes that council should not listen to complaints regarding Chief Neumann’s past employment.
- As a citizen he commends council for moving forward with the Palouse River trailer court project. As a fireman he is deeply troubled by the limited access and overgrown trees. He stated compassion for the few families who do take care of their property but supports the city’s efforts in removing the trailer park.
- As the fire chief, the burn ordinance is going well. To date, we have not received any complaints in regards to burning. Some people are still frustrated with it but people are complying. They want the chipper program.
Mayor Echanove stated that as open forum, they must allow the public to be heard. Mike Bagott stated that he is at council to rebut statements made by those people who continually mouth off. His only regret is those people weren’t present to hear it. Hopefully they’ll read about it in the paper. Mike Bagott then excused himself from the meeting.
Chief Neumann expressed to council that the open forum should not regress into a time for people to be allowed to personally attack his character or make accusations. It affects him personally and it affects his family. Chief Neumann asked Councilman Schorzman if he at any time asked for a $10,000 raise. Council member Schorzman said no, not directly. Neumann stated that if a citizen thinks that he is doing something wrong, we can address that through the proper channels. There are different steps to take rather than allowing anyone to make slanderous statements at a council meeting. Council member Mark Bailey said he agrees but does not know how we keep that from happening. Mayor responded that Mr. Mayhan got no response with the council and that we can’t regulate what he sends to the paper.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Dwayne Griffin submitted a written report. Dwayne reported they have worked on the well pump systems telemetry. The wells are working enough to record the levels. We are working with a company in Spokane. In the meantime, the pumps are being monitored manually. They are making progress on Alder Street. The plan is to have gravel delivered Thursday and Poe will pave next week. As an extension of the Alder St. project, Poe provided an estimate for asphalt at the compost site as part of the grant through Whitman County. Dwayne asked council to consider purchasing a vehicle for public works since Marc uses his private vehicle creating liability issues. He said he would research used and surplus vehicles in the area. The zero turn mower Marc’s been trying is working really well, taking 40 minutes off a 90 minute mow. They are trying to get three quotes from local distributors.
POLICE DEPARTMENT REPORT: Chief Neumann reported a dog impound last week and investigating a weapons offense at the school. A GPHS student from Garfield has been expelled for bringing knives to a football game. With morning and afternoon patrols, traffic around the school has improved. Patrols have been stepped up on Main St. Being a 2-man department, resources are limited. Council member Bailey stated that if we wanted an officer on duty 24/7, we’d need 4.6 full-time officers. Chief Neumann reported that in reference to the complaint by Charles Sack and the use of 9-1-1, Officer Ellsworth gave Charlie the sheriff’s phone number the day before he called 9-1-1 about the parked car he wants removed. He was told this was a civil matter, not an emergency. Chief Neumann reported that the department is ready for Haunted Palouse. Officer Ellsworth reported that he had a report of a tree in the road. In responding, the patrol car was nearly hit by tree limbs falling from an overloaded truck. The driver complained that there’s no chipper in the city so he has to haul it elsewhere. The mayor considered that an indirect compliment to the city as folks are wanting and expecting the chipper.
NEW BUSINESS: No report
OLD BUSINESS: Mayor Echanove reminded council of discussion tabled at the last meeting in regards to the $10,200 grant from CTED for development of a uniform handbook to administering the Critical Areas ordinance. The amount of the grant is correct because it is a consortium of Whitman County communities for which Palouse would be the lead agent. The city is allowed to keep $400 for administrative fees. The planning commission discussed this and deferred to the city’s decision. Bishop recommends that we proceed. He cited where this exact issue came up in a neighboring community. If they would’ve had a uniform handbook, it would have prevented added burdens to a contractor and misunderstandings. Our building inspector is in favor of this handbook. Mayor Echanove read the motion from the council meeting of Sept. 25, 2007. Norm Schorzman MOVED to authorize the Mayor to proceed with the Growth Management Services Grant to develop the critical areas handbook. Rick Wekenman seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
In regards to the Studio Cascade contract, the Mayor recommends we go ahead with them since they developed the Critical Areas ordinance. Mike Milano MOVED to authorize the Mayor to sign the contract with Studio Cascade to develop a handbook. Councilman Bailey seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. The handbook will be available to the public.
2008 Budget Discussion : Mayor Echanove reported that our insurance carrier is applying a 16% increase in insurance costs for 2008 to members. We need to increase our budget 18-20% to cover the increase. Council member Snook explained that the personnel committee has met twice and discussed proposed salary increases as presented by the Mayor. Following are the recommended increases: Clerk/Treasurer 5%; Deputy Clerk going to an 80% position at $2000/mo; Clerical Assistant position maintained as needed; Police Chief 7%; Officer Ellsworth 2% increase at start of year and an additional 1.2% as he completes the academy; PW Superintendent 5%; WWTPO 3.2%; Public Works Assistant 3.2%; Mayor an increase of $50/mo to bring it to $250/mo.; Fire chief and EMS coordinator will go from $100 to $125/mo. This is split with the rural so it will have to go through the Joint Fire Board. The salary increase percentages are not based on merit as much as fitting into a range. Mark Bailey asked if the personnel committee has resources to compare salaries. Yes, they refer to the AWC state-wide survey. The City of Palouse falls in the middle-to-low end in most cases. The Mayor reminded council that the City has a good retirement program to offset lower salaries. The personnel committee agreed with these numbers and instructed Joyce to build them into the budget. Mike Milano requested $500 to go into Economic Development within Current Expense to allow for contributions into certain programs when called upon.
PARKS, CEMETERY & BUILDINGS: Mike Milano stated that Haunted Palouse is coming along fine. No state street closures are needed to be filed with WSDOT.
POLICY & ADMINISTRATION: Council member Bailey presented a $10,000 capital funding grant opportunity from the Whitman County Solid Waste Coordinated Prevention Grant of 2007-2008 for expansion of the compost site. Jeff Snook MOVED to authorize Mark Bailey to submit the grant on behalf of the City of Palouse. Norm Schorzman seconded and the motion and the motion carried unanimously. Mark Bailey reported he has been installing the surveillance system at the compost site. He has been asked if a large quantity of pine needles can be taken to the compost site. He will research this.
STREETS & SIDEWALKS : Council member Bagott reported on an email from Munir Daud regarding the progress of an agreement from Avista to move one light pole as part of the Whitman Street project. With still no response from Avista, he will move ahead with the design. Darcie reported she talked to a traffic signage specialist regarding better signage by the car wash warning of a congested area ahead. We need suggestions for better signage rather than more. There was a citizen’s report of missing signage on F St. We have three 20 MPH signs heading north on F St. and none heading south on F St. Perhaps the city can move one of the existing signs.
The Mayor reported that he spoke with Attorney Bishop about drawing up a legal description for the land exchange between the city and the Kite’s in regards to the Whitman Street project. Bishop is also working on the new lease between the city and the Palouse Community Center (PCC). He would like to do a boundary line adjustment to create one lot of the two partial lots that the PCC will be leasing. The lease will be written for one 56’ lot instead of 40’ as in the current lease. The balance of the lot not taken by a building may become a foyer/courtyard for public use. If we didn’t do that, we’d end up with a 16’ lot. It will give them freedom to do sidewalks, trees, etc. Mark Bailey said it might give them maintenance issues they’re not prepared for. Council member Bagott asked if the city is partnering with the PCC to develop a parking lot behind the proposed community center. Mayor Echanove said the city has no money right now for that. In 2008 the grade work needs to get done. Perhaps something can be done together in the future. Mark Bailey asked Darcie if Munir has looked into putting the utilities underground. Munir will if Avista will go along with that.
Dwayne Griffin inquired about the four spaces in front of the used car lot on Main St. Do we want to leave it as parking spaces or blocked out for turning around? Council agreed that the area should me maintained as a turn-around.
MAYOR’S REPORT : Breeding’s addition sewer project has gone out to bid. It is advertised in the Spokesman Review and locally. The mayor received a letter of support regarding the RR crossings on Hwy 272 north of the city submitted by county commissioner Partch to WSDOT in support of upgrading the crossing. The Mayor and Joyce are going to the IACC conference later this month in Wenatchee. Mayor Echanove informed council that he will be on the list for the possible replacement for State Representative David Buri. The Brownfields report is due around Thanksgiving.
ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilman Snook MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Norm Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
ADJOURN: Norm Schorzman MOVED to adjourn. Darcie Bagott seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 8:46 PM.
The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid Warrants: # 12623 through # 12651 Payment: $13,876.41