Former City Administrator Dorothy Knauss was sworn in as the newest member of Chewelah’s City Council at the September 19 regular meeting.
Knauss was recommended by the interview committee led by Councilwoman Krisan Lehew. The committee interviewed one other applicant, Teresa Shannon.
Lehew said that the committee based their decision on the level of experience offered by both candidates and chose the one with the most knowledge to offer the city, especially considering the current state of the city’s finances. Knauss was employed by the city for 20 years from 1979 to 1999. She held positions of bookkeeper, City Clerk, Clerk/Treasurer, and City Administrator during that time. She also served as President of Eastern Washington Finance Officers Association while Clerk/Treasurer. She has lived in the Chewelah area for 59 years.
In her cover letter, Knauss also expressed an interest in running for Mayor at the end of Mayor Clancy Bauman’s term.
After a unanimous vote of the council approving Knauss’ appointment, the oath of office was administered by City Attorney Charles Schuerman.
During audience comments, Nils Johnson criticized the council for the current state of the city.
“You’re making bad choices,” Johnson said referring to some of the service cuts that the council is considering in order to balance the 2013 budget, especially the elimination of all library funding.
Johnson noted some of the reasons that he moved his family to Chewelah, which included the parks, civic center, library, and the welcoming feel of the community. He explained that his occupation is “portable” which allows him to choose the right community for his family while being able to work from almost anywhere. He suggested that there are many other families in the same situation looking for a nice community like Chewelah. Johnson urged the council to “think outside the box” when searching for solutions to the current budget crisis. His recommendations included selling the electric utility to a private company and then taxing the utility, borrowing money to provide services, negotiate with the state auditor for a grace period to implement changes, and consult with business leaders or school administrators to find creative solutions.
Bill Johnson spoke next regarding the issue of cats roaming freely outdoors. He noted that when owners allow their cats to roam they are subjecting them to diseases, poisons, attacks by other animals, abuse by humans, and speeding vehicles.
According to Johnson, problems with roaming cats include overpopulation, rabies, killing of birds and wildlife, and neighborhood problems from defacating, digging, and urinating on others’ property.
He asked the council to consider a cat licensing, control and restraint ordinance that would ensure that cats receive the care and protection that they deserve.
Scott Schlafman of Chewelah Community Radio 102.7 FM approached the council to request $2,000 from hotel/motel tax funds to be used to help purchase the equipment necessary to meet a high power transmitter requirement by July of 2014. He said the equipment will cost approximately $8,000 and the non-profit radio station currently has $1,500 for the purchase. The request was referred to the finance committee.
Teresa Shannon of Chewelah Chamber of Commerce thanked the council for the monies recently received from the hotel/motel tax fund.
Mayor Clancy Bauman announced that mail was received from Inland Northwest Blood Center (INBC)thanking the city for their support of the blood drive. INBC indicated that 42 donors attended the most recent drive to “give the gift of life.”
City Administrator Mike Frizzell announced that three bids were received for the museum office remodel project. The low bid was from Dave Alby’s Highmark Construction for $7,845.10. The other bids received were from Baumann Brothers Construction and Moose Country Construction for $9,419.78 and $16,294.00, respectively. After brief discussion, council voted unanimously to award the contract to Alby’s Highmark Construction.
The funding for the project was received previously from the Crossroads on the Columbia Digital Archiving Project, a grant-funded project that digitally preserved many of the documents and photographs in the Chewelah Museum.
In old business, Ordinance No. 844 was unanimously approved by council to amend the 2012 budget.
In new business, Councilwoman Sharon Ludwig noted that a letter was received from Sunshine Disposal & Recycling Regional Manager Steve Wulf proposing that his company purchase the assets of the city’s garbage service for $70,000.
In his letter, Wulf suggested that the purchase price, along with $245,000 that the city has reserved for a new garbage truck, would leave the city with approximately $315,000 to help balance next year’s budget.
Additionally, he estimated that Sunshine Disposal & Recycling could provide garbage collection services at 50 cents per month less than the city’s current residential service rate.
By Jared Arnold, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: City Attorney Charlie Schuerman swears in Dorothy Knauss as the new Chewelah City Council member in the Council At-Large position during the Sept. 19 meeting.