Palouse City Council
Regular Council Meeting
September 12, 2017
CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:00 PM.
ROLL CALL: Council members present: Doreen Hanson; Bill Slinkard; Mike Hicks; Senja Estes; Rick Wekenman. Councilmember Hicks MOVED to excuse councilmembers Wilcomb & Stout. Councilmember Estes seconded and the motion passed unanimously. Staff present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Joe Handley; Clerk-Treasurer Kyle Dixon; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 22, 2017. Councilmember Hicks seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.
PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin submitted a written report.
Pool is being prepped for new paint.
We’re actively seeking Officer Merry’s replacement for when he retires later this year. With advertising, we received only one candidate who ended up not being qualified. Chief Neumann thinks the lack of applicants is directly related to pay. Chief used the AWC wage study to make his point that Palouse pays less than comparable-sized cities. Chief Neumann has requested wage increases as follows: Chief: $60k, Officer in charge: $55k, and 3rd officer: $50k.
The city’s current health insurance policy expires end of this year so we’re looking at the different policies AWC is offering. Currently, employee’s medical and dental is $654/month for each employee. The closest policy we’re being offered is $581/month with less coverage. The good part is we have flexibility; not every employee has to choose the same plan. The new premiums run from $446-$762 depending on plan. To have no effect on the city budget for insurance premiums, CT Dixon is suggesting that the city still pay the $654/month and if an employee chooses the $446 plan, the difference gets put into the employee’s VEBA account. If an employee chooses a higher than $654 plan, the employee pays the difference. To be discussed further at a later council meeting.
West Whitman is wrapping up. They were painting crosswalks today. Street lights and signs will be installed very soon.
CT Dixon completed a renewable energy cost recovery certification form with Avista that will reimburse the city up to $5,000 every year as an incentive for installing solar panels. The city received a $5,000 check just today. In addition to electric savings for well pump #3, the city will cash out banked kwh hours later this year that will further reduce the city’s energy costs.
The city received another inquiry over the safety of the old Palouse Arms building. CT Dixon will contact our building inspector tomorrow to discuss a strict plan with a hard date for the owner.
Update on Wastewater Treatment Facility upgrade: Mayor Echanove, CT Dixon, and our engineers took the following two ideas to a meeting with the Department of Ecology (DOE) and our DOE manager Diana Washington: 1, Build enough lagoons to store it and land discharge or, 2, store it then seasonal discharge when flow rates are higher. Our discharge permit, issued by DOE, is a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) that allows the city access to the Palouse River given that we follow regulations implemented by DOE. Diana Washington stated that the EPA (federal agency that oversees state DOE) has changed the rules with regards to certain pollutants and that in two years they will change our discharge permit so we cannot discharge into river under any circumstances. Any plans for river discharge are no longer viable, which has negated most of the last year of facilities planning with our engineers. If the city sends a letter explaining why we cannot now meet the December 2017 deadline, Diana Washington will extend the deadline. We can continue to look into city land near the solar project or downriver which will require land acquisition. Next step is to meet with Varela to salvage what we can from the planning that has been completed and to attempt to move forward with other alternatives for proper disposal. If we play by the rules and do what we’re supposed to do we could potentially extend the back end up to 5 years if we need to. EPA made this change in Nov. 2016 and Varela admitted they should have been aware. We will continue to work with Varela and the city’s wastewater advisory committee toward a viable solution.
Potential installation of Inland Cellular new cell tower: Brian Woods of Inland Cellular (IC) was present. IC would like to install a radio tower in Palouse on city property behind the old brick water reservoir on the north hill. They would pay between $200-$400/month for that right. Because it’s city property, he would need the council’s permission to use that ground. Even if council lets him use that ground, IC would still have to apply for a conditional use permit through the Palouse Board of Adjustment. They are the ones who give or deny permission for a permanent tower. Palouse has a cell tower policy in our zoning code. A temporary tower would be approximately 60’, the permanent tower would be approximately 200’.
DOH has regulations about the footprint of building around a water reservoir that will have to be investigated prior to allowing IC to apply to BOA. Councilmember Hicks MOVED to allow IC to apply to the BOA for a conditional use for a tower on the city-owned property at I Street Reservoir pending DOH approval. Councilmember Hanson seconded. Councilmember Wekenman asked if IC has approached any nearby landowners in the county, just outside the city limits. IC already has a tower on Kamiak Butte. Needs to be close to town to improve IC’s network. Motion carried with one nay vote from Councilmember Wekenman.
Bruce Beeson wants the city to ensure the approach to his shed (boat storage) on west Whitman Street has a larger cutout put in. During the Whitman Street project, a 6” curb was installed so he couldn’t access it. He and CT Dixon then staked out where the cutout should go. Engineer then went out and rectified it as he felt proper, stopping it at Bruce’s property line. Bruce is unsatisfied with the cutout as it’s not wide enough. Engineer stopped curb cut at Bruce’s property line because he doesn’t own it west of that. Marty Anderson owns property to west and he stores stuff in a nearby shed as well. Councilmember Hanson MOVED to address the curb issue and make it right by the property owners’ standards. Councilmember Estes seconded. CT Dixon thinks there’s money left in project budget to fix it. If approved it’s mandatory that both owners are present to discuss what is needed. Motion carried unanimously.
Police, Fire, & Safety, Chair Wekenman– Will meet with PD shortly to discuss wage and salary requirements for next year.
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:
Payroll Paid 8/31/17 Ck. #8538-8563 & EFT $46,700.26
Claims Paid 9/12/17 Ck. #8564-8600 & EFT $37,280.92
ADJOURN: Councilmember Slinkard MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Hanson seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 8:56 PM.
APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________