Council reconsiders ballot measure
By David Josselyn
Regular Council Meeting
Mayor Heider convened the regular meeting of the Central City Council at 7:01 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers. Council members; Jeff Aiken, Judy Laratta, Shirley Voorhies, and Mayor Kathy Heider were present. In attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, City Manager Daniel Miera, Community Development Director Ray Rears, Public Works Director Sam Hoover, Utilities Director Jason Nelson, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and County Under-Sheriff John Bain.
Mayor Heider led the Pledge of Allegiance and then asked for any amendments or additions to the evening’s agenda. There were no additions or amendments to the agenda.
Mayor Heider asked if there were any conflicts of interest for any member of the council. There were no conflicts expressed.
The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the September 18 meeting and regular bill lists through September 26. Alderwoman Laratta moved to approve the Consent Agenda and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The motion passed unanimously.
Mayor Heider opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on that night’s agenda. Three people chose to address Council.
Resident David Josselyn first addressed Council regarding items on the Consent Agenda. He called attention to all the items in the Regular Bill List that were marked as miscellaneous; from six items listed as miscellaneous supplies, five items listed as supplies, three items listed as miscellaneous tools, to one item each listed as miscellaneous office supplies and just miscellaneous. Josselyn stated he has a background in accounting and all these entries to miscellaneous accounts gets his attention because they are not transparent. He stated that the City, from the beginning of the year, has been working on better transparency in its financials, but when he came across this month’s bill list, he was surprised no council member asked for more information. Josselyn also asked about one charge of $865 for an “Annual Drinking Water Fee.” Director Nelson responded that the fee is assessed by the Public Water System as a regulatory compliance and is based on the number of taps.
Resident Jack Hidahl next addressed council saying, “I hate to belabor and subject, but that’s how strongly I feel about this. (Ballot measure) 1B attempts to clarify the charter, but it must not clarify much because look at the half-hour discussion we had on it tonight. The right to select our chosen representatives shouldn’t be a matter of saving money or convenience. I encourage you to withdraw the question.”
Resident Jackie Mitchell next addressed the Council on the same topic saying “I feel we need to have it (ballot measure 1B) on the ballot to give the people the option to vote. Taking away the option for voters to have their voice heard is not a great option.”
Holidays for Council, Too
Attorney McAskin introduced the first reading of Ordinance 18-12 which would amend Rule 1 of the City Council Rules of Procedure. This would revise Rule 1 to make it clear that any regular meeting that falls on a holiday will be held on the immediately following business day at 7pm. The next holiday conflict will be New Year’s Day, Tuesday, January 1, 2019 and the regular meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 2, 2019.
Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 18-12 and set the second reading and public hearing for Tuesday, October 16, and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.
Council Urges Vote ‘Yes’ on 1A
Attorney McAskin introduced Resolution 18-28 which would urge a ‘yes’ vote on Ballot Issue 1A. This is the proposed use tax increase to fund fire protection and public safety services.
Mayor Heider commented, “I’m going to vote for this.” She added, “I don’t think this is the total solution for the future of our fire department.” And the voters will eventually have to think hard about what they want for fire protection. “What we have before us is only a partial solution.”
Alderwoman Voorhies commented, “It’s a move in the right direction The City has not addressed the fire department in a very long time. It’s a good first step.”
Alderman Aiken commented, “I agree. It’s imperative to let the people decide what kind of fire protection they want. It’s time to step up to the plate and support our fire department.”
Alderwoman Laratta commented, “I don’t think we could come up with a solution like we did with the police department; I hate to tax people, I really hate it, but we really do need some more money.”
Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 18-28 and was seconded by Alderwoman Laratta and Alderman Aiken simultaneously. The resolution passed unanimously.
Appointing or Electing?
Attorney McAskin introduced Resolution 18-13 which would urge a ‘yes’ vote on Ballot Issue 1B. This is the proposed rule change related to filling vacancies on the City Council reducing the need and cost of special elections depending on when during the term a vacancy occurs. The current rule allows for appointments if the vacancy falls within 180 days of the end of a term and the new rule, should it pass, would eliminate the timeframe allowing the Council to appoint a replacement regardless how many days are left in the term.
Alderwoman Laratta commented, “How can you say, yes I like this on the ballot, but no I don’t agree that were pushing a yes vote?” Attorney McAskin clarified that the purpose of this resolution is to urge a yes vote but will not affect the measure being included on the ballot.
Alderman Aiken commented that “being this far into the process, I say let the voters decide. Let the process continue.”
Alderwoman Voorhies commented, “I like the way it’s written, because I would hope a seated city council would use prudent judgment. This needs to be on the ballot and let the public vote on it.”
Mayor Heider responded, “I cannot urge people to vote for this.”
Alderwoman Voorhies moved to table Resolution 18-29 (postpone indefinitely), but no one seconded the motion. Alderman Aiken moved to approve Resolution 18-29, but no one seconded the motion. Alderwoman Laratta moved to continue Resolution 18-29 (postpone a vote until the next regular meeting) and was seconded by Alderwoman Voorhies. The motion passed three to one with Alderman Aiken voting against.
Movement on Belvidere Rehabilitation
Director Rears introduced Resolution 18-30 which would authorize the City Manager to execute a contract with Form Works Design Group, LLC, for the Belvidere Theatre rehabilitation architectural plans and specifications. The City has applied for a grant to offset half the cost and the City will wait to sign a contract with the engineering group until the grant is awarded, or not. The manager will have the option to sign a contract if the grant is not awarded. The full amount of the rehabilitation project is already in the budget for the Belvedere rehabilitation.
Alderman Aiken commented “It’s important to show we are moving forward with the Belvidere.”
Alderwoman Laratta inquired, “Did you find out the historic colors of the Belvidere?” Director Rears responded they were cream and mist green. Laratta commented, “I can’t wait until we put them (the colors… or the paint) on again.”
Alderwoman Voorhies moved to approve Resolution 18-30 and was seconded by Alderman Aiken. The resolution passed unanimously.
Alderwoman Voorhies reflected, “Yay! I’ve got a temporary fire building and construction on Spring Street.” This is in response to items on the Community Development Department and Public Works Department reports.
Mayor Heider commented, “The Plein Aire festival was absolutely fantastic; it was exciting to see these people from different places painting our town. If you go up to the art gallery, you can see a lot of those paintings that were just painted this weekend. It was a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing those paintings all over the gallery walls.” She publicly thanked the Opera Association and the Arts Association. Heider then added, “The Teller House was opened for the winter (a restaurant run by Joe and Kara Tinucci); I had the first beer and I’ve eaten lunch every day they have been open. JKQ did a really great job and it’s nice to see our Jeff Aiken tending bar.”
Alderwoman Laratta commented, “It was a great summer; flowers and everything, and I miss Mary (Bell). That’s my comment.”
Mayor Heider opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to the council on any items not on the agenda. Two people chose to address the Council.
Resident Jeremy Fey first commented that a big part of the Teller House being used is due to the head of properties, Eric Chinn, “I recommend getting to know him.”
Jackie Mitchell, representative for Main Street Central City, then addressed Council regarding the coming Pumpkin Patch Festival on October 13 and 14. “There will be food trucks and more pumpkins (than last year).” She added that they are looking for donations of wagons. Mitchell then stated that the candidates for Council will be speaking at the Elks Club on October 9 at 7:00 p.m. and encouraged people to be there.
Mark your calendars
Mayor Heider adjourned the regular meeting at 7:57 p.m. The next regular Council Meeting will be Tuesday, October 16, 2018.