Special City Council Meeting, October 18, 2017
Special City Council Meeting- October 18, 2017
The Enterprise City Council held a special meeting for the purposes of reviewing the results from a survey asking the citizens to vote whether or not they would like to see the City of Enterprise included in the Library Taxing District.
Mayor Karvoski opened the public meetings for the Enterprise City Council special meeting at 6:04.
Those present were Mayor Stacey Karvoski; Councilors Jenni Word (via telephone), Larry Christman, Micah Agnew, Dave Elliot, Ashley Sullivan, Chris Pritchard; Staff Michele Young, Lacey McQuead, and Denine Rautenstrauch.
Guests present were Tamara DaSilva, Joel Fish, Catherine Fish, Joe Fish, Jim Hubbard, Autumn Wilburn, Josh Kesecker, Kate Forster, Kim Witherrite, Margie Shaw, and Susan Polumsky.
Press; Kathleen Ellen.
Mayor Karvoski opened up the special meeting by asking Margie Shaw and Kathy Fish to present the results of the survey mailed out by the City of Enterprise to the citizens within the city. The survey asked the citizens if they would like to see the City Council approve the Resolution to include the City of Enterprise Taxpayers in the new proposed Library Taxing District.
Margie stated that her and Kathy went through and reviewed the results multiple times, to make sure the vote count was accurate. Margie explained that she and Kathy separated the surveys into groups; addresses within the city limits, addresses outside the city limits, and unknown addresses. The results were as follows:
Inside the City Limits: 34-Yes 79-No
Outside the City Limits: 6-Yes 5-No
Unknown Addresses: 36-Yes 45-No
Mayor Karvoski asked for public comment.
Tamara DaSilva stated that she wanted to make it known that she did not agree with requiring the survey takers to write their addresses on the survey in order for the vote to be counted. She stated that it was not included on the survey itself and therefore should not be required. Tamara explained she had further concern when the letter (survey) was pulled off the website on Thursday.
Michele stated that the survey was pulled from the website because it was being handed out to non-residents and just for the record we mailed somewhere between 1,100 and 1,200 surveys with all of the utility bills and we had them available at the office, so there was plenty of opportunity for someone to fill them out and turn them in. Tamara DaSilva responded that the renters did not have any opportunity to vote because the surveys were only sent to the landowners.
Autumn Wilburn stood up and introduced herself as President of the Library Foundation and citizen of the City of Enterprise. She began by stating she wanted the council to do the right thing and let the citizen’s vote. She stated that she is not asking for the City Council to approve of, or oppose the district, just allow the citizen’s to have a chance to vote. That will in turn allow six months of time for us to educate the communities, hear the pros and cons, have public meetings, etc. Autumn asked the council to please allow the process to move forward as it should and allow the voters to have their vote.
Kimberly Witherrite stood and introduced herself as someone speaking on behalf of Building Healthy Families and also currently someone in escrow on a house in Enterprise. She stated that she will ultimately be affected by the decision made tonight. She asked to read a statement written by Maria Weer, the Executive Director of Building Healthy Families. Kimberly read from the statement: Building Healthy Families partnership is a critical element to the success that we have been able to have in the community. Building Healthy Families strongly supports the Wallowa County Library District and feels that if this doesn’t pass tonight, it would be detrimental to the children and families here in Enterprise and in the County as a whole. Some of the funding for Building Healthy Families is contingent on the existence of the services provided by the library. Kimberly stated as a future homeowner, I really hope that you take into consideration that there were obviously very few return votes. Without the library district moving forward, to me as a parent, you are losing a huge support for families. At some point we cannot support the tourism business if we don’t have families here to hold that up. We are losing valuable family services. I love the small town values, I love going to the store and people knowing my kids, but if we lose these important family services, we lose reason to stay here. I worry that you are going to lose the support network for our children within the community.
Mayor Karvoski stated that for the record, Councilor Jenni Word is on the phone and will be attending the remainder of the meeting via phone. Mayor Karvoski informed Councilor Word of the results from the survey, explained earlier in the meeting.
Margie Shaw asked if Michele could explain the resolution and what it allows if passed. Michele explained that the resolution allows the voters in the City of Enterprise to vote on the Library District. If the district is passed, the Enterprise Library would then become part of the district.
Councilor Elliot stated that Enterprise has a really good library and a good library system that is supported well and would continue to be supported well. The questions is would the citizens of Enterprise, benefit from higher taxes being paid for the Library District. The answer is no. Councilor Elliot further explained that this was just a survey and stated that you are not going to get 100% return on results.
Kimberly responded stating that the services being offered now at the City Library, are strongly supported by the County. Therefore, the services that the citizens are currently enjoying at the City Library, are part of County funded programing. If you are not in the district, there will be a deduction in services. The countywide reduction in services will be at approximately 89% reduction. We are already functioning far below the standard of the state for the library systems. You would see an increase to services, a plan for future services. I had no idea how many of the support networks in the County were supported by the County Library. It is one of the few things that I have the opportunity to take my active kids to go do.
Autumn stated that while the City of Enterprise has a good library service, it is not great. We have 32 hours of service, Monday through Thursday from 10:00-6:00. She explained that we have a four day school week here, the Library is not open on Fridays, nor is it open on the weekends.
Mayor Karvoski stated that some of her concerns regarding this district are the necessity for future districts. Also, we did not know that the City was expected to hand over the City Library building and pay maintenance repairs, heating, telephone, etc. She continued by stating that it would have been nice to have had prior conversation with the City regarding these expectation, prior to coming forward and asking for us to sign a resolution in such a short period of time. Mayor Karvoski explained that when she went to the original meeting, she was shocked when Ruth stated that we need to hurry and get this done because there is less voter turnout in May. I believe that it would be more beneficial to allow more time to get this out to the public prior to voting, instead of rushing this along.
Autumn stated that in regards to the timing issue, this fell in our lap when the County decided they were closing the County Library. I don’t think the main reason is the lower turnout. If we are on the May ballot and we move forward, we get to start collecting taxes next year and therefore the County Library will not close. If we waited until November, we would not be able to start collecting taxes until 2019, therefore the library would close. She stated that maybe that is what needs to happen in order for our community to realize this is needed but as a mom this breaks her heart to think these programs could go away.
Michele asked what is going to happen with the County Library. Susan Polumsky stated that if this gets on the May ballot and does not pass, they will close the library June 30th. If this gets on the ballot and passes they will continue to fund what they are funding right now, at a reduced level, until November when the first revenues start coming in, then we will be part of the Library District.
Michele stated that Susan Roberts came to the office and explained that she made it very clear to all of the foundation that the building was not going to be of use. She stated that it will be torn down because it is so full of mold and she made that very clear to everyone that it is not to be counted on as a building for this library district. Susan Polumsky responded stating that is the first she has heard of anything like this. She stated that Susan Roberts agreed at the public hearing that the county would continue to pay for the use of the County Library building.
Autumn stated that she doesn’t feel what Susie does and the programs offered through the county library, need to operate out of the county library building. There are places that they can operate out of. I met with Susan Roberts last week as well and she recommended that perhaps the newly renovated space next to where the City plans to build the new city hall, might be a perfect location for these programs. There is also the option of using some of the space in the same building the Building Healthy Families operates out of. A lot of what Susie does, does not require an open space all the time. She could work at the other library locations as well. Autumn continued, stating that if the City of Enterprise does not move forward with allowing the citizens to vote, it is still economically feasible to move forward with the Library District in the other cities. If Enterprise is not part of the district, it would be relocated to another City that is within the district.
Councilor Pritchard asked if we have the option of opting in at a later time. Autumn explained that at that point the City Council would have to go back to the voters and put it back on the ballot. That would be up to the council to do that at a later date.
Councilor Christman stated that he thinks one of the biggest problems now is that the people have not been educated. He stated that this has just been thrust upon the people who haven’t really had the opportunity to respond. Autumn responded stating that she agrees, but they do have until May 15th to notify the voters and educated them further. She stated that they had meetings last week, three members of the public showed up and not one councilor showed up to any of the public meetings.
Kimberly stated that one of the reasons information was slow to come out is because when we first met in June, we did not know what saving the County Library would look like. From June to July we received a $30,000 grant. These funds had to be expended by September 30th. From August to September we had a consultant look at all of the libraries and they brought the numbers into the budget and what it would look like long term. Another benefit we have now is Ruth. Ruth has helped many library districts and she is very good at evaluating and determining future costs and sustainability for the library district. Other libraries she has helped are thriving know.
Councilor Agnew stated that he got to sit with Ruth last week and she made the point that because we received the feasibility study late last week, we were not able to get the information out to the public that we had. Therefore, the people who answered the survey, have not received any of the information from the feasibility study. Councilor Agnew explained that he has been reflecting this week, and he is now concerned that our intention to get the public’s opinion was not actually met because the public did not have the information that we were privileged to. He explained that he is concerned that our intention was met with flaw and he wouldn’t be comfortable making a decision as a council. Councilor Agnew asked how one can expect true results from a survey if the person doesn’t know what they are responding to.
Michele explained that the common question she is asked is what happens if the citizens don’t vote for this. She explained that the libraries will continue, but the county library will not. That is the confusion of the public.
Councilor Agnew stated that the point that Ruth was making in our meeting, was urging the City forward in adopting the Resolution so there would be time to educate everyone. Councilor Agnew stated that there are still a lot of details that we do not have worked out. There are too many questions at this point, but aside from all that, he can’t help but wonder what the role of the City Council really is. He explained that we are not voting on a library district or not to have a library district, we are being asked to be included in the voting.
Councilor Sullivan agreed stating that if we would have had the entire community of Enterprise at the meeting tonight, the outcome would have been different. She further explained that the information she gained from the feasibility study was a wealth of information that she didn’t know prior to the survey going out. The feasibility study definitely gave more facts that played a part in her opinion changing.
Mayor Karvoski asked for further comment. With no further comment, Mayor Karvoski stated that she would entertain a motion to approve Resolution No. 621, as presented from the Library Foundation. Councilor Agnew moved to approve the resolution as presented by the Library Foundation. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion.
City Administrator Michele Young completed a roll-call vote:
Councilor Pritchard - Nay
Councilor Agnew - Yea
Councilor Elliot - Nay
Councilor Christman - Yea
Councilor Sullivan - Yea
Councilor Word - Yea
Mayor Karvoski - Nay
Motion to approve the resolution as presented from the Library Foundation was passed.
Councilor Christman explained that the City of Enterprise Council needs more information on what the expectations of the Council are. If this is a district, the district needs to pay the library expenses and this needs to be brought up in your meetings. So far the information given has been horrible.
Meeting adjourned at 6:37.
Stacey Karvoski, Mayor
Lacey J. McQuead, Administrative Assistant