Minutes August 12, 2013
The Enterprise City Council met in regular session on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. Those present were Mayor Margie Shaw; Councilors Tim Parks, Stacey Karvoski, Bill Coffin, Laura Miller, Larry Christman; City Attorney Roland Johnson; Staff Sergeant Michelle Bloker, Ronnie Neil Public Works Director, Denine Rautenstrauch Librarian, Michele Young City Administrator.
Jenni Word not present
Guests: Vickie Abram, Bill Oliver, Sondra Lozier, Jeff Nave
Press: Rob Ruth of Wallowa County Chieftain, Katy Nesbit of the LaGrande Observer.
Councilor Miller made and Councilor Christman seconded the motion to approve the July 8th and 30th , 2013 meeting minutes and the July Accounts Payable report. Motion passed unanimously.
Vickie Abram who resides at 402 South St. stated that she had some things that she wanted to say and had some questions regarding the brochure the city mailed out. She stated that she is upset and against option 2 that the city has chosen for its Water Improvement Project. Vickie stated that she moved here in 2005 and her bill was $42 and now it is $85.00. She is single and 65 and feels it is unnecessary to do this project at this time. To consider a project that costs close to $6 million and spread it out over time among the population is just not the right thing to do. She went to the hill where we are having the major problem and there are 3 houses up there and wanted to know why they didn't pay to have the water pumped to that subdivision rather than spread the cost around to the people of Enterprise. There are not good jobs here, that is not going to encourage people to come and she knows this. She watched this same thing happen to McCall Idaho. She lived there for 30 years and watched them privatize the profits and socialize the costs. They are in the toilet economically, people are leaving, there are only minimum wage jobs, only seasonal jobs. Communities like this want young families to come here, especially if you need to pass a school bond as an example. You don't just want older well to do people living here. She feels it is a big issue to talk about when raising the rates. Why can't you just do the pumping station, she has studied the map, driven all over the city, this does not have to be done until 2016. We live in a down economy, these are things you already know.
Councilor Coffin requested that she submit her questions in writing since she can not be here. Vickie stated that she would love to do that.
Vickie wanted to also hear what we had to say before she goes to her neighbors who don't have a lot of money. Vickie stated that most of the people she knows do not have a lot of money and this is a hardship. To have our water and sewer bill reach $100 as a fixed cost per month along with all of the other relatively high costs of living in such a small community is a hardship. Vickie stated that in her neighborhood more and more houses are going up for sale. People aren't coming here, they are leaving. She stated that this project has to get to our affordability rate so the rate increase all depends on the financing that the city can get. Michele stated that the city does qualify to apply for a loan at 1% interest for this project with a $750,000 loan forgiveness. Vickie stated that the average wage in this county is $24,000 so that means a whole lot of people make less than that. It is getting unaffordable to live here. She stated that she understands the fire protection part of this but we are talking about a very small area that has bad pressure. Ronnie stated that is not correct. Vickie stated that according to the maps it is. Ronnie stated that the health dept. requires 20 lbs. of pressure per square inch per service.
Those three houses have nothing to do with this project, they came in after the Health dept. gave us this letter. That is not the only place, we have problems in all of the hill areas. He stated that she is on a 3" line, Vickie stated she knows what size her line is because she had to replace it. Ronnie told her that he is talking about the city main line in front of her property is only a 3" line. Ronnie stated that there are no fire hydrants within 4 blocks of her house. If her house torches there are no fire hydrants to connect to. This project will change that. A new reservoir will provide better water storage for this city. Vickie asked the question why then don't we make the people who have to have the 360 degree views paying for this. Why don't they have to pay for the fire hydrants and pumping stations then us peons who live down here paying for it. Michele stated the developers do pay for their developments. Vickie stated they are not paying for the amenity to have the houses on the hill.
Councilor Christman stated that he doesn't live on the hill she is talking about, he lives below it. He can't shower and flush the toilet without one going dry and he just live a few blocks above where she lives on the hill as she calls it. He has been in the same location for 44 hears and it hasn't changed. Vickie stated that is a problem when you live up in elevation but she has a problem spending this kind of money at this point in this economy raising our fixed cost rates at this amount. Councilor Karvoski stated that the reason why we have to start now is it takes time to do the engineering, apply for the loans and grants, you can not build this in a year. We are planning for this now so that we can get it done in 3 years. Vicki stated that this project will accommodate a population of 7,000 people, did she understand that right? Michele stated that our populations estimates are at around 2500, the county population is 7000. Michele commented that we are required to provide water in your tap, process sewage and provide fire protection. We almost ran out of water on the DeSpain fire behind City Hall. Michele stated that the fire they just had in Wallowa; they had to draw water from the river because they didn't have enough water. Capacity is a huge deal in our city. Vickie asked what is wrong with the first alternative, why doesn't the city want to do that. Councilor Miller stated that up front it is the least expensive but on top of that, Vickie interrupted Councilor Miller asking what the cost was of alternative #1 as it didn't say it in the brochure. Councilor Miller stated that she did not come with her information for reference material. Councilor Miller stated that the maintenance cost for pumping stations are much higher if she remembers correctly and our ability to receive funding was much less at a higher interest rate and that we were trying to plan long term for what was best for the city. If we just do the pump fix, it's a minimum amount of time that we fix the issue but then we would have to again revisit it. What we are trying to do is plan for the future and fix the issue, not mask the issue and the issues at hand. Councilor Miller stated that long term this will cost the city less money because we are fixing the issue, not bandaging it and later have to re-fix it and constantly go through those processes.
Vickie asked who will be making the final decisions. Councilor Miller stated that it would be the City Council. We started this 1 1/2 year ago and this is not an un-informed decision. We want public input. Vickie asked what if the majority of the public doesn't want this project, Councilor Miller stated that we would probably have to do something else but bottom line is we have to fix it. Michele commented that the first option was just under $2 million.
Vickie asked what we spent on the brochure. Michele stated that we had to do our 20 year Master Plan first. Than we spent $800 to mail the brochure. Anderson Perry did the brochure for us a no cost. Michele stated it was important to us that we get it out. Michele stated the Master Plan we had to do, these issues came out of that plan. Mayor Shaw commented that the Master Plan is huge and very technical and as a council it is very hard to understand all of that. She stated that Anderson Perry is here to help us and explain it to us. We are having our Engineer from Anderson Perry attend the Public Meeting so that some of the technical questions can be answered. Ronnie knows the city system but Anderson Perry can probably better explain the technical part of it.
Vickie stated that she lived in McCall for over 30 years and they couldn't even get people to move in because of the big mess they made of the water and sewer. She worked at the Golf Course and they had beautiful and reasonable priced lots but people couldn't afford to buy them because of the high cost to hook up to water and sewer. Ronnie stated that you have to keep your systems up. Vickie stated she agreed with that, we live in old towns but the thing that bothers her personally is you have these big developers come in, even if it is a small subdivision they need to pay the costs. She saw the same thing happen in McCall, they had a Nob Hill like we have here but allowed relatively few homes but everyone else had to pay for it.
Mayor Shaw stated that at League of Oregon Cities Conferences they talk about System Development Charges and she had asked about how they work. The Comments she received was that we weren't large enough to have that. Michele stated that McCall has SDC's and Michele knows what development Vickie is referring to and it is not truly a fair comparison to what is happening in Enterprise. We have an average of 3 houses built a year, McCall built a large condominium development, Vickie stated she was referring to a development called Nob Hill, not Tamarack. Michele stated that both Enterprise and Joseph has reviewed SDC's, they don't work here. We have developers sell lots, not pre-built home subdivisions. SDC's probably add $10,000 to $30,000 per lot. You have to go through a process with the State of Oregon, it is not a simple process. What we do have are connection fees. Currently we charge $1200 per connection for water and sewer separately. Developers do pay for all infrastructure costs. Vickie stated that she does understand all of that. Vickie stated that she has friends that say they will just move to Joseph and Michele commented "wait until Joseph has to deal with stuff". Vickie agreed stating that is what she tells them, your not immune to this living in Joseph. Mayor Shaw stated that small cities get hammered from state regulations because we don't have the population to pay for it like larger cities. Vickie stated that she understands all of that, she just wanted to express we didn't have to do it at this point. Vickie stated that as per the brochure we don't have to do all of it right now and she understands the Band-Aid thing but right not in such a down economy. She had her own business up in Joseph for 5 years and had to close it down last year, retail business is not good in the county right now. There are less than 4 months to make it in retail here and twelve months of fixed costs, it is a tough nut to crack. This is gong to be a hardship and she just doesn't feel right now is a good time. She will write a letter since she will not be able to be there, she wanted to express how she feels about this and how others feel. Not a lot of people feel comfortable coming to meetings like this. Vickie thanked the council for listening to her and the council thanked her for coming.
ICE RINK UPDATE
Bill Oliver and Jeff Nave reported to the Council their recent meeting with the Parks Committee.
Bill stated that now would be a good time to fill the basin in which the pool used to be in. Bill felt the contract the city has with Moffit Bros. would be easy to amend to include filling in that area. Bill stated that they would like to be a part of this project in getting it done. They would need to install sprinkler lines and seed it. Roland stated that we could modify the contract but where would the money come from. We need to have an engineered fill plan, we would have to have top soil. Bill stated that Moffit Bros. would bring in 1 foot intervals and compact it. Bill stated that they have a couple of thousand dollars and ice rink members will be pledging money to pay for it, they are going to apply for grants to help cover the costs. Ralph stated we could do it without a retaining wall.
Bill stated that they will match the existing slope that is near the tennis courts. Ronnie stated that they would have to put up fencing. Denine told Bill that if they expense money prior to a grant they will not be reimbursed.
Roland stated that if we amend the contract and do a change order, there will have to be an engineered plan and an irrigation system has to be installed. There are all of these issues that will have to be done so it is done right.
Roland wants it to be thought out and well planned to achieve the objective of specifying the work.
Councilor Karvoski made and Councilor Miller seconded the motion to direct the City Attorney to amend the contracts for filing in the pool basin and building area as per plans submitted by the City Engineer Ralph Swinehart. The City shall pay for the Engineered Plans and Attorney fees, the Ice Rink members will be responsible for paying for the work.
Michele stated that they have been having problems with the utility bills getting destroyed by the Post Office equipment. Lacey has been researching alternatives and Michele stated that they thought they were ready to make a proposal to the Council tonight but have decided to put it off until they get better information for paperless billing and payments online.
Ronnie presented to the Council a proposal from George Chadwick Consulting to prepare our TMDL Implementation Plan as required by DEQ. This will cost $5,700. Ronnie explained that this will manage the water we put in Prairie Creek. This was supposed to be done in 2010. This is about keeping temperature down for fish, they look at riparian areas and they look at bacteria. This would lay out a plan on how we do things
Councilor Karvoski made and Councilor Miller seconded the motion to accept the TMDL Plan as presented. Motion passed unanimously.
EMPLOYEE OF THE QUARTER
Councilor Miller recommended George Kohlhepp to be appointed the Employee of the Quarter award from the Police Department. George has taken on the K-9 program as well as many other responsibilities due to recent changes in the Police Department. It was the consensus of the council to accept the nomination by Councilor Miller.
Paul Karvoski submitted a written report from the Fire Dept.
Michelle Bloker reported on the police department, they just did their 105th case for the year. She did the background checks for the applicant and feels it went very well.
Denine Rautenstrauch stated the Library did not have a meeting last month.
Ronnie reported on the Depot Street paving job. It did go over budget but was still less than the other bidders. He is very satisfied with the project, they did an excellent job.
Michele Young submitted a written report that covered activities with the Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission. Michele reported that Lacey had created a brochure for the public explaining our utility rates.
Mayor Shaw stated that tomorrow Community Bank is having their open house and GEMS are still looking for donations for the City Welcome Sign. Mayor Shaw put out a challenge to all Councilors to donate $100 at the bank, they will match every dollar with .50 cents.
Mayor Shaw closed the public meeting and stated that we were going to have an Executive Session as allowed by ORS 192.660(2)(i) for employee evaluation.
Mayor Shaw re-opened the Public Meeting. No action taken.
Mayor Shaw adjourn the meeting.
Margie Shaw, Mayor
Michele R. Young, City Admin./Recorder