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May 30, 2018

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CITY OF SOUTH BEND - COUNCIL MEETING - May 30, 2018

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1-2. CALL TO ORDER AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The council meeting was called to order by Mayor Struck at 5:30 pm followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Members present: Councilor Buchanan, Councilor Williams, Councilor Neve, Councilor Davis, Councilor Little, Police Chief Eastham, City Supervisor Houk, and Clerk/Treasurer Roberts.

3. APPROVAL OF AGENDA, CONSENT AGENDA, AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Prior to the approval of the Agenda Mayor Struck requested that Item #7 – Items from the Public be moved to Item #4A. A motion was made by Councilor Neve to approve the amended Agenda, Consent Agenda and the minutes of the May 14, 2018 regular meeting. The motion was seconded by Councilor Williams. Vote: Ayes-5, Noes-0, Absent-0

Vendors – Check #44105 thru Check #44140 - $257,415.82 (Check #44104 Voided)

4. CORRESPONDENCE

None

4A. ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC
  • Citizen Gary Buchanan – 900 W First Street – asked about the parking situation in front of his house – parallel vs. diagonal parking. City Supervisor Houk advised that he would look at it and address the issue.

  • Citizen Alan Ekrem – 323 Pacific Avenue – addressed the council again regarding speeding on Pacific. (See November 27, 2017 and March 26, 2018 Council Minutes) Mr. Ekrem was quite passionate about what he perceives as speeding cars Pacific Avenue as well as dead animals caused by those speeding cars. Mayor Struck explained that the situation has been looked at and that there is data that doesn’t support an issue on Pacific if he would like to review that information with Police Chief Eastham. Mr. Ekrem declined and left the meeting.

  • Citizen Reggie Phillips located – 513 W. First Street – thanked the city for the gravel that was dumped around the recycle bins that are located near Highway 101 and Summit Street. It was noted that Pacific County maintains the area where the recycle bins are located not the city so any kudos should be directed to the County. Ms. Phillips also thanked Councilor Buchanan for facilitating it.

  • Citizen Bob Hall from 309 N. Harrison provided the council and staff with a brief history on how camping at the boat launch came about. He then provided the revenue that was generated in 2017: 68 RV’s @ $10 and 62 Tents @ $5.00 for a total of $990.00. (Note: Mr. Hall oversees the boat launch for the City as a volunteer)

    Mr. Hall provided the council and staff with two pictures of derelict boats that are partially submerged at high tide. He feels these boats could be a liability to the city.

    Mr. Hall asked that the city do some updating to their website – including removing a picture that is obsolete. Clerk/Treasurer Roberts advised she would look into when she had some free time.

    Mr. Hall inquired about Cheney Park and the new baseball field. Mayor Struck explained that the field will not be used this year. The planting was done too late last fall. Next year – 2019 – will be the first season. It was noted that the field should be a great shape by this fall.

5. UTILITY EXCISE TAX INCREASE DISCUSSION

Mayor Struck began the discussion by reading a letter she wrote to the council in an attempt to explain where the city has been and how the city has gotten to where they are regarding the shortfall in current expense. After reading the letter she suggested that the council present their thoughts and then the citizens that were in attendance would have an opportunity to weigh in with their thoughts and concerns.

Councilor Davis asked about the difference in the B & O tax rates for the processors and others. Mayor Struck explained that this is a common practice in most if not all cities since processors tend to pay more than other businesses. Councilor Davis asked how they will feel about paying the additional excise tax and Mayor Struck advised that they will pay it just like everyone else.

General discussion followed

Councilor Davis asked about the duties of the court clerk and Councilor Neve noted that she doesn’t see how that job could be absorbed by the current staff. Clerk/Treasurer Roberts advised it could be done, it has been done, but there would be changes at city hall – including days when city hall would be closed if someone was sick or there was vacations because there would not be enough staff to keep it open without that additional part time person. Councilor Neve explained that she has went through the budget, line by line, and just didn’t see where anymore could be cut to make up the shortfall. She thanked Mayor Struck for providing her information and answering all of her questions.

Clerk/Treasurer Roberts asked the citizens in attendance if they knew what kind of dollar amount that a 5% increase looked like. The majority said no so the council shared their worksheets that had been provided to them in their council packets. The increase would amount to approximately $9-$10 per month, per citizen.

Councilor Davis asked about an increase to the local sales tax (currently 8.1%). The staff was not sure what the answer to that would be but Clerk/Treasurer Roberts advised she would look into it and see what the city’s options would be.

General discussion followed

Councilor Williams asked that once the parks caretaker job is eliminated at the end of 2018 how will that additional work be covered? Mayor Struck explained that it will be covered by the current crew. Employee Kelly Spoor is licensed to do spraying so he will take over that portion of the job. The hope is that in 2019, with those savings, that the city can hire a person for the summer to help the crew, but that remains to be seen at this point.

Councilor Williams pointed out that this is not an easy decision for anyone. The council now needs to look at that 5% increase and really decide if it needs to be raised that much or if a lesser amount would be sufficient.

Clerk/Treasurer Roberts explained that she didn’t take this tax increase lightly or consider it the easy way out. When she began looking at the excise tax increase she started at 2% and began increasing it incrementally until she got to 5%. At that point she felt that the city could possibly get where they needed to be and have a small amount in reserves.

Councilor Williams noted that the Fire and Police Departments are funded by current expense and those departments cost a lot of money – OSHA sees to that.

Clerk/Treasurer Roberts will draft an ordinance increasing the utility excise tax by 5% for the council to review. The first reading date will be July 9, 2018. This will give the council plenty of time to review and discussion this as well as other options.

Citizen Shawn Clevenger – 711 Minnesota – why not have our own identify? Why do we have to mimic Raymond? We all know in two years you will just raise it again.

Citizen Chris Thompson – 211 S Jackson – The city needs to make some deep cuts. The department heads need to have to do it. Major cuts.

Citizen Stephanie Serrano – 316 Willapa – Instead of putting the burden on the citizens why not go to a 32 hour work week. She advised that she understood that the union would be involved but she felt putting the burden on the citizens and losing residents is more critical than employees. Ms. Serrano then suggested that the city consider fundraising instead of tax increases. Some discussion about fundraising and what that might look like followed.

6. ROYAL HEIGHTS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

Mayor Struck requested council approval to sign the Memorandum of Understanding – Adjusted Rate to the Royal Heights Transfer Station Agreement. Councilor Williams made a motion authorizing Mayor Struck to sign the Memorandum of Understanding as presented. The motion was seconded by Councilor Neve.
Vote: Ayes-5, Noes-0, Absent-0

7. ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC

MOVED TO ITEM 4A

8. DEPARTMENT HEAD REPORTS
  • City Supervisor Houk advised that the Washington State Department of Transportation will begin the Highway 101 overlay project in South Bend. They plan to start June 11th. This will be through the majority of South Bend so plan your trips through town accordingly.

  • City Supervisor Houk noted that the crew has been busy mowing, brushing and spraying. They have been working around Cheney Park in conjunction with the South Bend School as well.

9. MAYOR’S REPORT

Mayor Struck reported that she had received high praise from a citizen regarding Officer Gonzalez. He was very courteous, respectful and took care of the situation.

10. COUNCIL COMMENTS
  • Councilor Davis asked how the city would fund the $30,000 match for the lighting at the Cheney Ballfield. Mayor Struck explained that if the city receives the funding there has been a commitment from a private donor to cover the city’s match.

  • Councilor Davis explained that the whole Cheney Ballfield really rubs her the wrong way. She doesn’t like the fact that people can use the park, but not the ballfield and that you have to get permission from the school to use it. Mayor Struck explained that there is an Interlocal agreement between the school and the city regarding the ballfield which might help answer or address some of her concerns. Clerk/Treasurer Roberts will email her the agreement.

  • Councilor Davis asked if she could put together a committee to come up with some ideas for a 150th Anniversary Celebration at Pioneer Park for the City of South Bend in 2019. Everyone agreed that would be a great idea!

  • Councilor Neve asked if anything had been done with the derelict buildings around town. City Supervisor Houk advised that yes, there has been a lot done but there is not much more the city can do after all of steps that are set within the derelict building ordinance have been exhausted and the property issues are still not rectified. The city does not have the funds to abate the houses. Even if the city does abate them rarely if ever is the city able to recoup any of the expense of the abatement. Councilor Neve asked what the status of the building at 1110 W. Robert Bush Drive. City Supervisor Houk explained that the owner is currently just doing outside cosmetic work because he can’t get a building permit until he pays off some outstanding debt that he has with the city.

  • Councilor Buchanan noted that he doesn’t like the city’s website. It doesn’t have good information and he was not able to find the comprehensive plan.

  • Councilor Buchanan explained that he didn’t speak during the discussion of the excise tax but he is not happy about raising taxes. The city has too big of a police force. The city is putting the burden on the backs of the citizens just to prevent losing an employee or two.

11. ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 6:45 PM to meet again at 5:30 PM on Monday, June 11, 2018 for the next regularly scheduled meeting at South Bend City Hall.

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