Friday, May 24, 2013

Council Chambers filled to standing room only over fate of city pound animals

Fifty–four people and one dog filled the City Council Chambers for the meeting on May 14, many of them in attendance to address the emotional issue of putting an animal down for those left for extensive periods of time at the pound.

In a separate meeting among council members and police prior to the council meeting it was decided that each situation was different. In light of the Clearwater Humane Society and the community’s support, euthanizing abandoned animals would not be an option, and that the humane society would be notified in each case.

In the past Clearwater Humane Society has gone to great length to assist the police department with loose/stray/injured animals. At present the shelter is filled to capacity, housing animals rescued in pending neglect/abuse cases, one in the city and the other within the county. Rarely has an animal needed to be at the pound this long. It must also be noted that no animals to this date have ever been put down by the police department for exceeding the time limit at the pound. The agencies will continue to work together.

Melanie Barrett and Mike Thacker, members of American Bikers Aiming to Educate (ABATE) announced that proceeds from their fundraising are used for an annual scholarship offered to local students enabling one to attend a STAR course. STAR is a motorcycle training course. Applicants will be asked to write “Why I should be selected to attend STAR.”

ABATE shared a short safety video, handed out bumper stickers, and reminded everyone that May was Motorcycle Awareness Month.

The organization was granted use of the Orofino City Park on July 26-28. Music, food, vendors, and motorcycle enthusiasts will meet in the park The event will serve as a rest stop for 10,000 motorcyclists on their way to Sturgis, MT, It was noted by the council that in previous engagements with ABATE, the grounds were left as clean, if not cleaner than when they arrived.
Public hearing

Special Use application for Joseph and Kimberly Campbell was approved.
2013-14 Budget Review

City Administrator Rick Laam introduced the 2013-14 Annual Budget to the Mayor and City Council. Laam emphasized that tonight’s introduction is preliminary only and involves the expenditure side of the budget without projected revenue. Therefore, the budget is not yet balanced.

He noted that Department Heads have identified their operational costs for the new year; knowing some of the requested expenses will be reduced or eliminated. This is because the revenue will not be there to cover these costs. It’s a matter of prioritization.

Laam briefly went through each city fund and identified a percentage increase or decrease from the existing fiscal year. The next step in the budget process is for each City Council Committee to sit down with staff and review the funds in more detail.

This process will begin next week and allow Council an opportunity to make additional changes. The final budget will be adopted on Aug. 27, 2013. Additional items impacting the budget included:

· Credit Cards – City staff will explore the feasibility of accepting credit cards for city services.

· PERSI – Effective July 1, 2013 State Retirement will increase for both the employer and employee by almost 1.5%.

· A 2.5% COLA is currently included in the proposed budget.

· Sewer Reserve Program – Effective Oct. 1, 2013 the city will begin a new sewer reserve program by increasing the sewer base $5 per year up to $20. This will generate approximately $2.1 million dollars over the next ten years.

· The City Administrator’s Employment Agreement will terminate July 31, 2013. The Finance and Personnel Committee will be reviewing this agreement.

· The city’s Tort Fund is currently in the red due to the Keith Burch federal lawsuit dealing with his denial of a Special Use Application.

· There is $25,000 for the maintenance and renovation of the City Council Chambers and City Hall.

· An Annexation Plan submitted by Planning and Zoning is currently before our City Attorney for legal review.

· The city will look at updating the city’s computer and software requirements in 2015.

· The city needs to begin planning for the transition of certain key employees who will be retiring within the next two years.
Committee reports

The Street Committee met May 7 and has begun the process of amending the present parking ordinances 10-5-15 and 10-5-16 to address time limits and the ability to enforce by putting up proper signage and street markings. Additional information is required, Committee Chair Marguerite McLaughlin hopes a recommendation can be made for parking at the next meeting.

The Finance/Personnel Committee also met May 7, to review the budget process to take place on May 21-23.

The committee was informed by City Administrator, Rick Laam, that extra money was budgeted for City Hall maintenance/renovation this coming year.

Laam also reminded the committee that the sewer base will increase by $5 beginning Oct. 1. This increase is designed to put money away for the next ten years to renovate the existing sewer plant. The base will increase every year by $5 until a $20 cap has been reached.

Departmental reports

The treasurer provided the State, Cable and Electric Revenue Recap Report. Pam MacGuffie also announced that the new jungle gym ordered for the city park had not only arrived but was paid for in full.

Todd Perry, Building Inspector, reported that one of the potential projects coming up was a Biomass plant and the designer had proposed a location on school grounds. To proceed, a special use permit would need to be approved as well as holding a public hearing.

Perry also told the council that ITD has been conducting a visual traffic count on Hwy. 7, of traffic turning up Dunlap Rd. ITD will analyze situation and return with recommendations regarding a turn lane for the high school.

Perry concluded with the warning that flood insurance rates may rise for many located on the flood plains locally, particularly if homeowners have refinanced their home, purchased a new policy or let an old policy lapse. In 2012, Congress passed the Flood Plain Performance Act making the cost of providing coverage more expensive.

In a report from the Public Works Department, John Barton announced that the flag had arrived and the 80 foot flagpole in Orofino City Park was ready and waiting. The flag pole dedication is set for Thursday, May 23, at 3:15 p.m.

The jungle gym apparatus has also arrived and will be placed on its foundation in the next couple of weeks.

Public Works has completed their first round of mowing and weedeating. On E St. a sidewalk was replaced and new handicapped accessible sidewalk corners were placed in front of Napa Auto Parts and Hansen’s Garage on College Ave.

Barton also shared that an engraved marker to identify Memorial Park and weighing nearly 1000 pounds will be placed on the newly poured foundation in the near future.

Chief Wilson presented the police report. In the time period between Jan. 1 and April 30, there were 597 calls to the police department. Of those calls, there were 138 cases under investigation, 63 arrests, and 79 traffic citations in addition to the arrests. This gave each officer an average of 149 calls and 35 cases each.

The speed trailer is currently on 122nd St. This summer, more of the focus will be to reduce speeding on side streets in the residential neighborhoods.

The Police Department is hosting a one day, eight hour class entitled “Creating a High Performing Organization” recommended for all city staff. Wilson claimed that the class applies to everything, not just law enforcement and attendance was highly recommended.

Mike Martin reported on behalf of the Water/ Wastewater Department. Little can be done on the treatment plant until the water levels recede a bit. With the latest spring runoff the snow has a lower alkaline level which impedes the way it works with the chemicals used to treat the water.

Like City Hall the plant’s extended building has a mold problem, due to lack of ventilation, which is requiring much of the crew’s attention.

The city also needs to consider replacing the bell press at the treatment plant. The proposed cost to replace it was factored into the budget proposal for this year. There is also the possibility of leasing to buy enabling the department to attain the bell press sooner.

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