Council May Meet Twice A Month

At the March 7 meeting, the Chewelah City Council voted 4-3 to propose an ordinance that requires the council to meet twice a month for the rest of 2012.

The motion was opposed by council members John May, Dave Haskell and Carra Nupp.

The council currently meets every first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. and an additional meeting would be scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month.

Councilman Nick Lasko made the motion following a recommendation by Mayor Clancy Bauman who suggested it as a way to get council business accomplished in a more timely manner. He also said it would keep all the meetings less than an hour long.

The ordinance still needs to be introduced and approved before any additional meetings are added to the schedule.

The city council also voted 5-2 to propose an ordinance that the Chewelah Public Library annexes into the Stevens County Rural Library District. Councilwomen Carra Nupp and Sharon Ludwig opposed the motion.

Amanda Six, director of the Libraries of Stevens County, presented information on the subject at the city council’s request.

Currently, as a city-owned library, the city contracts with the district for management, maintains the building, employs one employee, and pays for other minor services and supplies. Annexing would take away all of the city’s control over operations and give it to the Libraries of Stevens County Board of Trustees.

Six said annexing into the district would save the city $97,000 on their annual budget, but would add a new layer of taxation for city residents who do not currently vote on library issues. The current rate for the libraries is 38 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

When the library district formed in 1996, it was created to cover all the unincorporated cities in Stevens County. Since then, Springdale, Marcus and Northport have annexed into the library district, and Colville, Kettle Falls, and Chewelah cities have been contracting with the district.

Although the council wanted to have more time to think about this option, Lasko made the motion to create the ordinance just to get the lengthy process started. He also said it would not hurt to let city residents decide if this is something they would like for themselves.

The process for approval includes the city adopting an ordinance, which the Libraries of Stevens County Board of Trustees would also have to approve, and then proposing it on an official election ballot for voters to decide.

Councilman May said that if they would be saving so much money by not having to operate the library, the council should consider giving that tax money back to the residents.

An ordinance to prohibit the non-emergent use of compression brakes, or jake brakes, within city limits was introduced at the city council meeting. The council voted to amend the introduction to include the term “unmuffled” at Councilman May’s suggestion. Also, Lasko asked that they better define what qualifies as an emergency.

Based on RCW 46.37.395, violators of this ordinance would receive a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 fine for the second offense, $750 for the each offense thereafter.

Lasko, who is also a volunteer Chewelah fireman, said he believes the ordinance is unnecessary especially since Ryan Pankey, the Chewelah police officer present at the meeting, said he does not believe they have received enough complaints to warrant it a nuisance. May also said he does not believe the use of compression brakes affects the public health, safety and welfare of the city, which is stated within the ordinance.

The council approved an official employment agreement with Michael Frizzell, interim city administrator, with a 6-1 vote that Lasko opposed.

The employment agreement states that as interim CA, Frizzell is to do the duties of the CA along with duties related to his former position as Job Coordinator at Public Works when necessary for a base monthly salary of $4,312.71. If the city was to eliminate the interim position, he will be able to return to his former position as Job Coordinator/Building Official at $24.41 per hour unless it directly results in the loss of a currently filled position in the public works department. Frizzell said this agreement was created to give him a better sense of security for his family.

If he was to be hired as the permanent CA, a new agreement would have to be made as this only applies to the interim position.

Pending no prior event conflicts, the council approved a request from David Bergman to reserve the city park for a car show on the first weekend in August. Bergman will be working with the Blue Angels Car Club and the Colville Valley Outsiders car club to organize the “Rev it up for the Vets” Car Show, which will benefit the Wounded Warriors Project. He expects 150-200 cars.

Previously, the Blue Angels Car Club organized a Downtown Car Festival in May in Chewelah, however the weather was always unpredictable and Bergman said he was looking into other dates, ways to attract more participants as well as honor veterans.

The new show will take the place of the James Dean Days Car Show that the Wanderer’s Auto Club has canceled after 20 years of hosting it in the Chewelah park on the first weekend of August.

Frizzell said that the city will be saving four cents per gallon on fuel after recently putting the contract out to bid. However, he expects a better response for the next time it goes to bid now that they have learned of a more formally structured process.

The council voted to reclaim the surplus electrical transformers to Transformer Technologies, LLC who will drain the oil and haul them away, and give the city compensation for recycling them.

The city’s road grader is now in full operation after spending $9,600 to fix, which Frizzell said was just under the $10,000 budget. However, he suggested that the council still consider a replacement in the future because it is over 30 years old.

The council adopted the ordinance amending Section 9.08.010 of the City Municipal Code Regarding the Unlawful Discharge of Weapons within City Limits to accommodate a request from Gary Roach for the American Legion to start their Junior Shooting Sport indoor program. They will begin shooting events at the St. Mary’s School Basement.

The amendment adds: “A written waiver allowing for an organization to use air or CO2 guns or slingshots for educational or recreational purposes may be granted by the City Council on a case by case basis.”

The council also approved the service agreements with DIVCO for Fire Alarm Testing and Inspection, and HVAC Preventative Maintenance. These agreements are unchanged from the past year. Testing and inspection costs $513 plus tax, and HVAC maintenance costs $3,649 plus tax.

The council voted to budget $1,000 to have an outside professional review the plan documentation for the city’s Deferred Compensation Plan with Hartford. City Attorney Charlie Schuerman said he recommended the legal review by a specialist because it is so complex, he did not even understand it.

During the meeting, the city council met in executive session for 45 minutes to discuss potential litigation.

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff