September 8, 2009

September 8, 2009

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

ROLL CALL:   Council members present:  Mark Bailey; Mike Milano; Andy O’Neill; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook.  Absent:  Darcie Bagott, Rick Wekenman, & Chief Neumann.  Also present:  Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Officer Brian Dentler; City Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson.  Public present:  Jeslyn Lemke, Whitman Co. Gazette; Pete Hertz; Dixie Reber; Steve McGehee.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:   Councilmember Milano MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of August 25, 2009.  Councilmember Schorzman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT:   Supt. Griffin reported they completed Alder Street.  The chipper was here again last week.  They will be painting crosswalks, etc.  The roof leak at the Heritage Park restroom has been patched.

Open Sealed Bids for surplus.  Mayor Echanove read aloud the two bids received.  Jerry Thompson bid $7.55 on the paper shredder.  Dave Willmore bid $47.75 for the chain link fencing.  Councilmember Schorzman didn’t think the fencing should be sold for so little money.  Councilmember O’Neill MOVED to accept the bids for the paper shredder and the fencing as presented.  Councilmember Milano seconded.  Supt. Griffin said the city has no use for the fencing.   Motion carried with one no vote from Councilmember Schorzman.

Accepting Credit Cards for w/s payments correction .  Mark Bailey explained that at the last council meeting he stated that convenience fees are against the law.  He since learned that VISA does not allow such fees.  Since VISA won’t allow it, it makes accepting payments for w/s a tougher decision.

Brownfields Update – We’re coming to the end of the first phase with Maul Foster & Alongi.  They will be presenting what they have gathered at a Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the school gymnasium.  The objective is to orient the community on the process, share preliminary findings and get feedback from the community.  The more people there the more effective the meeting will be.

Chipper Program update – Mayor Echanove turned the discussion over to Pete Hertz.  The county grant to operate the chipper ends at the end of the year.  Pete Hertz reported that to keep the program going, the county will have to charge the city $250 to $300 each 8 hour day the chipper comes to town.  Dwayne estimated the chipper has come 20 times since the first of the year and pointed out that they were there for only half days.  Councilmember Bailey said the city will probably have to start charging for the use of the chipper, suggesting that perhaps the city charge a yearly fee of $20 for a key to a locked gate.  Councilmember O’Neill said that the $20 x 200 permit holders wouldn’t cover our costs.  It was asked if there be the ability for people to still use the compost site w/o paying for a chipper key.  Not sure how that would work out logistically.  Councilmember Bailey would like to strongly encourage the county to fund that program through solid waste because the chipper is reducing the amount of material going to the landfills, thus reducing their costs.   Pete said he would take the idea back to the board.

RV Park Policy – Councilmember Milano read aloud the RV Park Policies.  We need to add the two week limit and fee amounts to the policies.  Councilmember Milano MOVED to accept our amended RV Park policies.  Councilmember Snook seconded.  Motion carried unanimously.

City Purchasing Card Policy and Agreement – Councilmember Bailey read aloud the purchasing card policy and cardholder agreement.  Mark will have a resolution for next meeting.

Review Council Rules of Procedures – Councilmember Bailey read aloud a draft of the Council Rules of Procedures, which draws from a compilation of many cities’ rules of procedures.  Council discussed changes.  Mark will have a resolution for next meeting.  Mayor said the training session with Canfield & Associates to discuss council procedures is scheduled for September 22nd at 4:00 p.m. at City Hall.  Current council members, city staff and those running for council are invited to attend.


PARKS, CEMETERY, & BUILDINGS:   Councilmember Milano presented a request from Chamber of Commerce to use the PD and PW garage/basement for Haunted Palouse.  Chamber will perhaps donate back to the city to cover heat costs for those HP nights.

Committee Chair Jeff Snook met with Dwayne, Joyce, and pool manager Annie Manning for an exit interview.  They discussed ways to save the city money, maintenance concerns, and improvements.

WATER & SEWER :  Councilmembers O’Neill and Bailey, along with Clerk Beeson met with the Department of Health (DOH) as a result of a developer who wants to extend water to several building sites.  A single service line off the main may go in at the expense of the property owner without an issue as long as the connection does not put the city over the maximum number allowed.  However, whenever a water main is extended, the DOH requires engineered plans.  If the property is previously platted, the city does not require engineered plans.  Based on the request, a rough estimate for the engineered plans is between $5,000-$7,000, and roughly $70.00/sf for construction costs.  If public works had time, they may be able to do the work to install 200’ of water main.   Andy’s recommendation is to look into the cost of extending the city’s main 200’ and fulfilling the DOH requirement for engineered plans and reports.  This could then go to a developer to continue the distribution system.  Then latecomer agreement options will be open to the developers as long as they meet the requirements of DOH.  Our goal is to have a full distribution system, up to code.  Potentially, a short-term investment by the city could turn into up to 13 sewer and water hook-ups.

Andy said the city is not required to have a small-system water plan but it is strongly recommended to make the process of extending water simpler.

Dixie Reber said the city shouldn’t pay to extend water.  Andy stated that it is the city’s duty to serve its public and Mark reminded council that this is platted property and the property owners have been paying taxes for many years.  The sewer hookups that come in would go towards the debt for the Breeding’s Add’n sewer project.  COP needs to understand our rules, our liabilities, and the costs and provide a quality infrastructure.  Andy asked for council permission to pursue conversations with DOH and engineering services.  Council agreed.

Finance committee chair Norm Schorzman reported that cutbacks are necessary to balance the budget.  He turned the discussion over to Councilman Bailey.  Bailey explained that the reserve balance in the general fund is low.  The concern is not so much with the enterprise funds of water and sewer.  The general fund covers all the costs of operating government.  We will have to get to the point where expenditure balances with revenue.  Currently there is a $36,000 shortfall.  One of the main reasons for the shortfall is the drop in interest rates over the past four years.  In 2006 the city’s interest income was $56,000, 2007 $56,000, and 2008 $21,000.  So far in 2009, our interest income is only $4,500.  The current interest rate is .45% compared to between 5%-6% in 2006-07.  Another reason for the reduced reserve is the drop in state revenue for the loss of sales tax equalization.  City Assistance income in 2006 was $31,500; 2007 it was $36,000; 2008 it was $26,000; and projected for 2009,  $21,000.
Some ideas fro increasing revenue and cutting costs are:

  • Opening the pool two weeks later and not extending the season like we did this year, potential savings of $10,700 for labor and heating the pool
  • Foregoing council salaries for the whole year, potential savings of $8,400
  • Imposing the city’s utility tax of 7% which is in our city code that we’ve never used, potential savings of  $18,000 which would go directly to the general fund for administration of government
  • Evaluating cemetery rates, swim lesson fees, and dog license fees.

Councilman Bailey voiced concern about the possible effects of I-1033 if it is voted in.  While the full effect is still unknown, any percentage increase to the general fund revenue above the combination of the national implicit price deflator, which is usually lower than inflation, and the percentage of population growth, will have to be rebated to property taxes.  This is for any general fund revenue increases including sales tax, state shared revenues, grants, and fees.

There was discussion that perhaps the RV Park should be an enterprise fund.  However, that brings up its own issues since the revenue will be limited to use only at the RV Park.

Most communities collect the utility tax; we haven’t run across one that doesn’t.  If we choose to impose the tax, we need to have Atty. Bishop update the code.  Council approved Joyce looking into it.  As far as the council salaries, we could make it an ordinance or just voluntarily endorsing their checks back.  It’s always possible interest rates will turn around but action must be taken now since the reserve balance is dwindling.

The City received building permits today for two new residences.  Committee chairpersons need to submit their budget numbers to Clerk Beeson by Sept. 15th.

ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS:   Councilmember O’Neill MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed.  Councilmember Snook seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURN:   Councilmember Milano MOVED to adjourn.  Councilmember O’Neill seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.  The council meeting adjourned at 9:07 PM.

The following vouchers/warrants are approved for payment:
Claims Paid                 1650-1676       $67,661.13
Payroll Paid                 1599               $    500.00
Payroll Paid                 1621-1649       $37,372.82
Payroll Paid                 EFT to IRS      $  8,366.54


APPROVED: ________________________________   ATTEST: ________________________________