City's 2020 budget in review
November 14, 2019
POMEROY– Preliminary budget estimates for 2020 were given to the council along with a list of items that will affect next year’s budget. City Clerk Shaun Martin reminded the council that the state takes over business licensing in 2020. She pointed out there will be no increases for medical and dental insurance and the LED lighting on Main Street should save the city $9.000.00 a year. Various city rates including water, sewer, golf and the pool will need to be reviewed by the mayor and council prior to adopting the budget. Two public hearings are required prior to passing the budget. They are scheduled for Wednesday, November 27 at noon at city hall, and at the beginning of the next regular city council meeting on December 10. Martin also said the Property Tax Resolution needs to be submitted to the Garfield County Assessor by November 30, 2019. A 2.3% increase is being requested.
Sheriff Drew Hyer deemed the second year for the Downtown Trick or Treat event sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the business community to be a “great success” and said his department planned to participate every year. He reported the radar-activated speed sign across from the post office on Main Street is “up and going.” In response to a question from council he said there is no camera involved. Hyer said he has applied for a grant for a mobile traffic safety sign costing approximately $3,500.00 to be used throughout the community. This sign would most likely be solar but could be battery-powered. Calls to the department were up by thirty-six in October. City citations were up by one, written warnings up by six and arrests also up by six. There were three juvenile arrests, some dealing with property damage and vandalism under the Fifteenth Street Bridge and bathrooms at the City Park. Total miles driven were down by 265 miles. Hyer said the department will again participate in No-Shave November and Deputy Hamilton has completed his training. Deputy Miller will graduate from the academy December 13th and should be done with his training by mid-March. There was a spike in dog complaints with more citations but no nuisance ordinance issues. He told council that what part of the street is private, and what is public, needs to be more clearly defined, as an RV parked across from the school is still an issue.
Jim and Cynthia McMahon inquired if their request for a variance for an eleven-foot, six-inch setback from the edge of the alley would be granted. A motion to grant the variance passed unanimously.
Sherry Greenup asked for a garbage exemption. She has moved back to 359 Seventh Street but regularly travels to Clarkston and takes her garbage there where a friend allows it to be combined with hers. After Mayor Miller explained that such a process appeared to be permitted under the city’s garbage ordinances a motion to approve the exemption was passed unanimously.
Washington State 9th Legislative District Representative Joe Schmick was in attendance and asked if Council had any questions for him. He is trying to make it to council meetings of each town in his district.
No projects update made by Michelle Bly of TD&H Engineering had an unexpected problem with her vehicle and was unable to make it to the meeting. Progress Billing No. 33 in the sum of $121,517.86 was presented for the Sixth Street Bridge Project, to be distributed as follows: TD&H Engineering, $29,765.26; S&L Underground, $91,252.02; and WSDOT, $500.58. A motion authorizing Mayor Miller to sign the pay request passed unanimously. Work will continue on the project until the weather turns bad. There was no Columbia Fifth to Sixth Street Project report due to the absence of TD&H representative Bly.
The Sewer System Plan will be put on hold until the city has an opportunity to meet with the Tech Team from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB). Council discussed whether the cancel or postpone the TD&H contract for now, considering TD&H has started the water system update and will do the sewer in the future. When Martin told the group that the city has been waiting to hear from Olympia regarding the grant request but has not received an answer, Representative Schmick offered to contact the Washington State Department of Commerce on behalf of the city. No action was taken at this time.
Martin gave the mayor and council an email sent by Jack Peasley of the Southeast Washington Economic Development Association (SWEDA) concerning several topics including the Direct Appropriation, Tech Team meeting, golf course and other issues. Copies of the 2020 Request for Funding by the city to the Shepherd Foundation were given to the council. The city received a Compliance Confirmation letter from the Department of Ecology affirming that the city has corrected the three conditions of the warning letter sent earlier and no further actions are required.
There were no council committee reports. City Supervisor Landkammer is having trouble finding anyone to look at repairing the gazebo in the city park. He stated one contractor from out of town “wouldn’t touch it”, partly due to the historical aspect of the structure, but he has two other contractors scheduled to give him a quote. Monthly cash reports were given to each council member. The age analysis report shows accounts past due over ninety days. The consent agenda was passed unanimously by the council.
The issue of allowing dogs in city parks was brought up under old business. Debate concerned whether an ordinance should allow dogs under certain conditions or if it should be “No Dogs Allowed.” Martin provided a sampling of dog ordinances from surrounding communities for the council to review. The existing city ordinance now allows dogs in the parks if they are leashed and any mess they make is cleaned up promptly. Cassetto asked Sheriff Hyer if enforcement of an ordinance was easier if dogs were simply banned altogether and Hyer said that would definitely make the law easier to enforce. Council decided to ban dogs from the golf course and all parks. Fuchs recommended combining the wording of the ordinance banning dogs at the cemetery and the new dog ban ordinance.
In other old business, Jack Peasley of SWEDA has talked with downtown business owners regarding code compliance and notified the city that two owners are interested in possibly selling. Council asked to have Peasley present at the next regular meeting in December to discuss bringing downtown buildings into compliance.
Fuchs made a motion under new business to excuse Jim Harris from this meeting. Cassetto seconded and it passed unanimously. Representative Schmick spoke to the group regarding case load adjustments and the state’s supplemental budget. Schmick said he has heard two theories—a regular budget or no budget. He mentioned some of the other issues that are being considered by the democratically-controlled state legislature, such as more gun control, a mileage tax, and state income tax presented under the guise of a capital gains tax. However, he said at this time it is difficult to predict the final outcome of the budget.
City Council held its regular monthly meeting on November 5, 2019, at the city hall. Present were Mayor Paul Miller and council members Adam Hodges, Susie Bowles, Mike Cassetto and James Fuchs, City Clerk Shaun Martin and City Superintendent Kenny Landkammer. Absent was councilman Jim Harris.
The next regular meeting will be at city hall on December 10, 2019.