Friday, September 27, 2013

City committees face tough decisions

By Elizabeth Morgan

Orofino Fire and Building committees met Sept. 17, to discuss the city’s consideration to relocate their offices to the vacant Health and Welfare building.

The city has budgeted $25,000 this year for maintenance and repairs at the present site. Presently, City Hall is not in compliance with the ADA, nor does the amount budgeted for this year’s maintenance and needed repair, begin to address the fact that the police department, city offices and city chambers are all limited for space.

These were some of the reasons for the council to question whether or not it may be time to seek a larger and more updated facility.

City Administrator, Rick Laam suggested that more information be collected before making a decision. He would like to research the new building further, including utilities, parking and property taxes and compare those to what the city now pays.

The Planning and Zoning Committee also met Sept. 17, to discuss the zone change from (P) public to (C-2), sales and service district for the old Junior High School building.

The committee felt that the building’s change of ownership from public to private necessitated the zone change and felt the new owner could be better served under a C-2 zone. In doing so, a C-2 zone would make the zoning along Michigan Avenue more consistent.

The committee is considering changing the zone from P to C-2, and would like to hold a public hearing before the City Council at the next meeting, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at Orofino City Hall.

Next on the agenda was the work session and discussion of annexation. There are two areas that the city is considering. Four lots along Hwy. 12, two on Hartford, and two on 105th Street are the focus of one area. It was explained that the last annexation of Riverside which took place in 1969, excluded parcels of five acres or larger. Over the years those parcels have been subdivided, bringing the boundaries to their present configuration. The committee wanted to clean up the lines in the areas mentioned.

The other area the city is considering annexing is Konkolville, and part of the problem is that half the mill lies within the city limits (the area that housed the former bar and steakhouse) the other half is county. “Who will pay what to who for water?” is another question residents would like to know.

Residents and business owners voiced a strong opposition to annexation, most felt that additional taxes owed to the city - (approximately .76 to .8 percent) would be a hardship financially, several to the extent of losing their home or business.

One question heard throughout the meeting was “what benefit of annexation would exist for county residents who are currently not within the city limits?” One person asked “if by being annexed, he would be finally able to run for City Council? A councilmember assured him he certainly could and welcomed him to join them.

The committee is still in session, though it is crucial that any party wanting to address the issues of annexation be present to voice those concerns in the next few council meetings. The public’s input and comments will be taken at those meetings. Building Official Todd Perry will provide the committee with a second draft of the areas involved.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Medicaid Expansion

By Idaho State Senator Sheryl Nuxoll

Medicaid Expansion is the second part of Obamacare that will stifle and destroy our country with its cost, regulations, and “government is the answer” attitude. Expansion would remove citizens from the labor force with inability to move out of entitlement.

A free clinic in Caldwell for healthcare was started by a Bible study group looking to give something to their community. The clinic operates one night a week, serving people who have no insurance and do not qualify for Medicaid—people served by the county indigent program. It saved county taxpayers $500,000 on a 2.5 million county indigent budget. It is so successful that the program is adding another night per week. What a great way to expand healthcare so people have a way to stay in the work force.

To help the poor, we need to help the whole person—material, spiritual, and emotional. The government cannot do that. Why? Because law requires government to treat everyone as the same and equal. But we are not all the same since we each have different needs. People in government, even though working hard, can’t give the personal attention needed for all the different needs for the whole person. These needs are best met outside of government, through churches, non-profits, and families. Our duty is to limit the power of the federal government.

Concern for the poor doesn’t require faith in big government. It requires faith in the fullness of the Christian message, just as the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us. It demands personal attention from us. The free-enterprise system provides this opportunity for us. This is the power of people working together. Freedom is power.

Our present unrivaled health care system came into being through the Christian Churches and private charity who established all of the hospitals, clinics, and healthcare work. Christendom invented the hospital under the umbrella of Christian mercy. The solution of first resort for health care for the poor ought to be private, local charity, where needs are best met locally. Depriving citizens of private means by over taxation is not compassion. How can they give personal attention to the poor at the level closest to the person? Paying taxes limits the resources for individual and local involvement.

Forcing us to pay taxes to support charity may “feel good” to us, but where is the local personal involvement? If we are going to genuinely assist suffering humanity, then our feelings must be disciplined according to reason and common sense. Other private organizations, individuals, charities have a major responsibility to provide the necessary care before the state gets involved.

Trapping people into dependency is not compassion. St. Paul warned against a church not to provide a daily distribution of food to young, able-bodied widows lest they become idlers gossips and busybodies. In place of generous souls animated by love of neighbor, we set up a soulless bureaucracy run by distant bureaucrats and funded by politicians seeking out constituents by promising benefits. Free enterprise allows us to use resources to care for ourselves and others. It allows us to use our gifts to help others needs.

Why do we find resistance to free enterprise? Yes, there is greed, but greed is found in government as well as free enterprise. In fact, government is worse because there is little or no competition to control that greed. The greatest opportunity for greed is government cronyism, which knows how to exploit lists and lists of regulations.

As humans, we have the right to basic care, love, attention, including medical care, but not the right to every single desirable product and service available by demanding the limitless efforts of others without remuneration nor do we have the right to assume that the government is the primary means of fulfilling that right. Some solutions are:

Expand Health Savings Accounts which give the consumer the price sensitivity and flexibility in health care decisions.

Set up a defined contribution method as opposed to defined benefit in Medicare and Medicaid so recipients have a choice how to use it.

Let the consumer pay the provider instead of providers competing for the business of bureaucracies.

Deregulate codes that bind providers to rules rather than common sense and compassion for the patient.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another successful fundraiser for LCECP and Orofino Head Start

Hanna Johnson, Anson Hanes-Miller and Jenna Johnson advertise last weekend’s dog wash to benefit Orofino Head Start and LCECP.

Friends of LCECP serviced approximately 26 dogs at the dog Wash held Sept. 7, at Orofino Elementary School and raised $845.50 to benefit the new Head Start program.

Friends and volunteers stayed busy most of the day. Many donated more than the suggested donation and some donated without bringing a dog (one person donated $100 and only had a hot dog)

During the fundraiser LCECP sold four “The Works” packages, one door stopper to a non-dog owner, and sold home baked treats. Thank you to all who helped make this a fabulous success.

Kathy Deyo, “dog lover, groomer, trainer and expert” and her group of 4-H members enthusiastically bathed, dried and clipped a myriad of dog species, both small and large during the event.

Friday, September 6, 2013

City Council seeks three new councilmembers

By Elizabeth Morgan

A note to those residents who would like to make a difference in the community by serving on Orofino City Council, here is your opportunity. There are currently three positions open; a councilmember’s term is for four years. Applications are available at City Hall and must be returned by Sept. 6.

A public hearing was held for each of the following items:

Fee increases

Burn permits will no longer sold for $2.50 but will now be available for $5. The permit will be good for 30 days.

The 10-year Wastewater Reserve Program will increase $5 beginning this October, until a $20 Cap has been reached in 2016. Fees from 2013-2016 will be placed in a Dedicated Reserve Program for future renovation of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The new Reserve Program includes 150 Orofino/Whiskey Creek users as well as 850 city users.

The Budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 received a third reading and was passed. Annual Appropriation Ordinance No. 775 passed for the Fiscal Year beginning Oct. 1 2013, appropriating the sum of $15,046,110 to defray the expenses and liabilities for the City of Orofino.

Committee reports

At the city’s Building and Fire Committee meetings held in August, there was a discussion of City Ordinance 704 – Nuisance. Prosecuting Attorney Clayne Tyler was present to assist the council in finding a more efficient manner to dealing with the numerous properties that are repeatedly in violation of the Nuisance Ordinance.

Typically an owner is given 30 days to comply, and although this works for some of those in violation, often the property is cleaned up just enough to avoid prosecution, and allowed to return to its previous condition soon after, requiring the city to repeat the process all over again.

City officials are unanimously asking for a more aggressive approach when it comes to future nuisance violations. Owners will need to be in 100% compliance with the Building Official in cleaning up the property. Repeat offenders will no longer be given a time limit to comply, receiving a citation instead.

The Community Beautification Committee presented awards to the Winners for the Curb Appeal contest. The winner for the New Home Curb Appeal is Carol Crawford, and winners for the Existing Home Curb are Bill and Marlene Feldpausch.

Departmental reports

Building Official Todd Perry declared a building in the Riverside area to be dangerous. The owner received notice and has had 30 days to repair or demolish the property. In a recent inspection nothing appeared to have been done to comply. The owner will now be required to appear before the council to explain the reason for noncompliance.

Also up for discussion was the status of the zoning for the old school building. Now that the owners have been established it is now listed under the category of being owned by a private entity. But the city council still does not know the owners’ plans for the building.

An inspection is scheduled for the old section of the building among the State Fire Marshal and local Building and Fire Officials on Sept. 4. Once plans are made the city can go forward with safety requirements. The building was zoned P for public. Once a private entity purchases the building the zoning would typically be reverted to a C-2 Zone. More information and discussion will be necessary to proceed.

Enhanced patrol

Police Chief Jeff Wilson informed the council that in addition to the enhanced patrols for impaired driving, there was also an enhanced check on commercial vehicles this past week due to the number of complaints from the telephone company regarding lines being pulled down by trucks loaded too high. Several vehicles were cited for being overweight and only one for exceeding height. Patrols will take place later in the fall as well,

The speed trailers will be out throughout town and residential areas, to help remind drivers of reduced speeds and to use extra caution near schools and crosswalks.

Wilson also announced that his department was gearing up for Fair Days. Signs will be posted the night before the parade to help clear cars off the parade route. “We almost always have two to three vehicles that are left on the street. We plan to close Michigan Avenue to through traffic a little earlier this year. It would be nice for once to have the whole parade route from B St. on Michigan, up Johnson, and all the way to Les Schwab, clear for the parade,” he added.

There will be one-way traffic on Brown and Kalaspo avenues during the parade. Everything will be blocked off Michigan Avenue between B and A streets beginning at 9:40-9:50 a.m. for the parade.

Mike Martin, Supervisor for Water/Wastewater informed the council of the continued progress of the new water plant. Work crews will return after Labor Day and leave again before Lumberjack Days. He also mentioned that one of the city’s dump trucks was cited for being overweight, recently.

Fire Chief Mike Lee claimed he would be praying for rain from now till the end of summer. Many of his crew was out helping neighbors fight fires. Lee also confirmed that no fires of any kind would be permitted.

Council comments

It was mentioned that the sound system is still in need of updating, with continued comments of the public not being able to hear.