Council Meeting to be Continued

The Chewelah City Council will continue its May 2 meeting to Monday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. to make a decision on whether or not to reopen the pool this summer.

Kevin Herda told the council that several Chewelah citizens have committed $20,000 to keep the city swimming pool in operation for at least eight weeks as long as the council votes to reopen it. They decided to close the pool for one year to save money in the 2012 budget.

City Administrator Mike Frizzell said he needed more time to look into the actual costs of running the pool for eight weeks before the council could make that commitment.

Frizzell also said he has recently discovered that they need to purchase an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) lift to be in compliance with federal standards set in 2010. The lift costs around $4,000 but is currently on back order since the deadline is May 15, 2012.

As a way to find enough funding to operate the pool, Councilman Nick Lasko made a motion for emergency approval of budget amendments. He said they should take $1,500 out of the cemetery fund, $3,900 from the park fund, and $7,700 from the street fund. However, no one seconded his motion.

Lasko later explained that these numbers reflect how the last person hired in public works is paid since their wages are paid out of different departments. He said he believes the city can work with less people and are being “selfish” for wanting to save one person’s job over something that the entire community can benefit from.

Frizzell said they are on a skeleton budget right now and cannot reduce anywhere including staff.

Councilwoman Carra Nupp said she was fighting to keep the pool when they were working on the 2012 budget, but had heard that closing the pool would be the only way to qualify for grants to fund needed improvements. However, no one has yet to find any applicable grants.

Professional architect Tom Bristol made a public comment that leaving the pool to sit will only create further deterioration and grants are awarded to help things that are already working work better.

The adoption of the ordinance amending the 2012 budget was postponed until June in case additional changes are made to include the $20,000 in pool donations.

The city council adopted the Facility Use Policy presented by the civic center committee at the April meeting. The only significant change was removing the line that says smoking is prohibited in the park because they have no authority to enforce it.

City Secretary Tracy Ferrell said, even though civic center rental rates have increased, similar places in town charge up to $150 for a one-day event while the civic center only costs about $70.

The facility policy is not effective until June 1 so anyone looking to reserve city facilities can do so before that date to not be charged the $25 application fee.

Currently, several groups and individuals have volunteered their time and money to help refinish the civic center floor. However, with the increased rental rates, Ferrell said the city can now make enough money to be self-sustainable and will not have to rely on the community to maintain their facilities.

Councilman John May proposed that the city consider changing official speed limits on Flowery Trail Road to reduce more gradually from 50 to 25 miles per hour. He said it is safer for trucks to not have to decrease speed so rapidly on the steepest part of the road. May will work with Public Works Supervisor Gary Nussbaum with the help of Frizzell, to develop an official proposal.

Ferrell, who is also the president of the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce, suggested on the Chamber’s behalf that the city require business licenses. She said they could charge $10 annually as a way to hold businesses accountable since they would have to follow certain rules to qualify. It would also make the city appear more credible to visitors. She said this would not be about increasing city revenue, but about encouraging businesses to be responsible and giving the city a better idea of what businesses are in town. Any money made should go back to the businesses in the form of beautification funding.

Nupp and Lasko have been assigned to help draft a proposal for business licenses with the help of a few Chamber members.

The ordinance designating the day and time on which regular city council meetings are held was introduced at the May city council meeting. Mayor Clancy Bauman had previously suggested that they meet twice a month on the first and third Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to speed up approval processes and get through business more efficiently. He said the additional meeting would only continue through the rest of 2012.

Bauman proclaimed May as Older Americans Month and May 13-19 as National Police Week. He also encourages the citizens of Chewelah to observe Tuesday, May 15 as Peace Officer’s Memorial Day.

Frizzell said public works staff is now on a 4/10 schedule Monday through Thursday to save on fuel and utility costs. Robin Hegney from the Waste Water Treatment Plant will be available on Fridays for any emergencies, in addition to himself. He said they have also reestablished wage steps for public works employees to define how much time and certifications are needed before employees can move up on the scale.

By Kellie Trudeau

The Independent Staff