TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
July 11, 2017
Hot Springs Senior Center
CALL TO ORDER by Mayor Woods 7:04 p.m.
ROLL CALL: Present Woods, Neary, Smith and Adams. Whitsett was not present at roll call but arrived later 7:12 p.m. Also present Police Chief Smith, Stephen Sheffield, Bob Jackson, Delta Jackson, Nina DeCoster, Lola McDougle, Bob Woods, Jeannine Woods, Don Woods, Troy DeRoche, Liz DeRoche, Donna Redmond, Paul Stelter, Janell Clarke, Deana Hazelton, Aurora Hill
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES: Motion to approve by Smith, Seconded By Adams Smith commented that the minutes stated that swap meet for the museum was going to be at the Rodeo grounds, this is what she had reported during the meeting in June and she is correcting herself stating that it will actually be held at the museum.
Minutes approved 3/0. Whitsett was not present to vote.
FINANCIAL REPORTS: Motion to approve Financial reports by Adams, Second by Smith, Financial reports approved 4/0
PRESENTATION OF CLAIMS: Motion to approve claims by Smith, Second by Adams, Woods explained some of the claims that are not a normal monthly bill such as Knerr Inc for road oil, Treasure State Concrete for asphalt, and payroll for Jack Dolson, Garrett Radabah, and Connor Perry for 2 days working on the streets. Neary questioned if Wright Express gas cards had been updated, Woods stated they have. Neary also questioned COBRA and self pay insurance payment, Woods explained that if employees that retire wish to continue benefits they have to pay us and we pay the premium to MMIA, Clerk also explained that we also have 2 employees out on Work Comp who are paying their share of their health coverage to the town because they are not receiving a paycheck for it to be held out of. Claims approved 4/0
MAYOR: Last month has been really busy, we did apply for a water grant through CDBG and TSEP- awarded for next stage of water project, for putting an emergency generator on the wells,
drilling another well, abandoning well 3, putting another well in at well 1, gauging and safety equipment on all of the wells, It will be kind of the final stage in the water projects and hopefully we will be good for 30 years. Some of the things we applied for in the grant we have already had to replace which required some changes to the project budget, but we are credited that and it goes towards our share of matching funds. Budget had to be approved and papers signed.
Also working on the budget this month, have to do some fine tuning and wait for the county to give us revenue numbers in August we will have meetings for public comment on the preliminary budget.
PUBLIC WORKS: Busy, have been working on streets, that last two weeks they have been working on mowing- right of ways, vacant lots, lagoons, Also had a semi-surprise sanitary survey inspection- DEQ showed up and went throughout everything, looks at training documentation, actual sights, all of the reports and samples, this was just done and we haven’t gotten back all of the results yet. We do know we have a problem with the new water tank and we have contacted the engineers about this already and asking about warranty work on that. Ruben is on vacation right now, Sierra is still out. Mark is here taking care of things right now.
FIRE DEPT: 2 car crashes, 30 acres grass fire, presented the fire report from DNRC on the fires in nearby areas. Rogers Mountain 75 acres, Lazier Creek 3 fire 1100 acres, Grub fire 16 acres, and NW Meadow 11 acre fire. Fire department has recently received 2 grants, $5000 from Town Pump and $2000 from Department of Natural Resources, both must be used for personal protection safety equipment such as gloves, pants, coats etc.
POLICE: Written report provided and read by Chief Smith-he reported that it has been a relatively slow month.
COUNCIL: Neary asked if there was a written complaint or if there was an issue of public safety involved in the issuance of two letters that were sent out to two residents regarding their fences being on Town property. Woods stated that the Town did receive a written complaint. Neary also stated that the zoning compliance officer stated he had been instructed by the council and Neary would like to know who instructed him to write the letter. Mayor Woods stated that he instructed him to send the letters, that he works for the council and at the last council meeting the council said yes we should enforce the ordinances when asked by councilman Adams, the Town had received a written complaints and the zoning compliance officer was directed to start the process, write a letter and get a response. He stated that both parties had responded, one letter he had just seen a few minutes ago and he would get it to the council, and the other party stated he would be out of town for a while and would like to address it once he returns. Mayor Woods stated that the ordinances are written by the council, not by the mayor, and that he is to enforce the ordinances by MCA statute. He also stated no action is being taken against them at this time, the process is started. The mayor also explained that the action may be the council may give them a variance, but that is up to the council, as per the ordinance. Neary stated it appeared to him that this is a way of avoiding a vote on the whole thing, because it looked like the people were qualified in their response and that it was kind of a maneuver of sorts. Woods explained to the council and public that there was a letter of complaint given to the Town of Hot Springs and there are two fences that are on public property. He then stated that after the council reads the letters and they review it, it is going to be the council’s decision on what happens. Neary stated it would have been helpful if the council had the letter at the last meeting, and Woods explained that we did not receive the letters until after the last meeting and the letters to the people were sent after the last meeting and their responses were received after the last meeting. Woods continued to explain that the finger is being pointed at the mayor or the council or the zoning compliance officer or the ordinance but they are still putting their property on someone else’s property and that is wrong no matter how you look at it. Leslee Smith stated that if you don’t know where your property line is, you should have it surveyed before building. Whitsett asked the Mayor if she heard him say that the council voted yes to enforce the ordinances. Mayor Woods stated the council has to enforce the ordinances by MCA. Whitsett explained that at the last meeting she did not say yes we should enforce the ordinances that she said no, the ones that are related safety. She also stated that she disagrees that the minutes from the last meeting represents the substance of what she said which was “no, the ones related to safety”. Woods asked Whitsett “to clarify, you’re saying we should only enforce ordinances” (related to safety) and Whitsett said, “right now. I’m not talking about the long term.” Woods explained that we can’t vote on whether or not we are going to enforce the ordinances. We have to, by Montana State Law, enforce the ordinance on the books. Whitsett asked if this information was used to claim that the council brought these offenses. Woods stated no, and explained how the process works, that the council writes the ordinances, once the ordinance has been written it has to be upheld until you take it out, the mayor is instituted with doing what the council says in the ordinances, and he explained that you can’t pick and choose. You have to be fair. He then stated we need to redo our ordinances and that we have some that are little too restrictive. Smith and Adams both indicated the need for a full blown ordinance review.
Whitsett was late to the meeting and missed comment and vote on approval of the minutes. She commented on the minutes that part of the minutes were taken to from the video and were to the point and right on, she commented on another part of the minutes where it said “Mary Whitsett thinks there needs to be more one than one complaint and it needs to be offensive to more than one person”… She stated she “would like this correction that Mary Whitsett stated that public nuisance as defined by the decay ordinance means an issue that affects a number of neighboring properties.” She then referenced the definition of public nuisance in the decay ordinance. Clerk questioned if she had reviewed the video and questioned the terminology Whitsett was claiming to have used. Whitsett stated she “thinks that when you are looking at something you can discern, or pick the statement that most reflects the substance.” Then states she is not asking for a correction, she just wants to clarify and if she in fact said that and the minutes stand, then fine. Whitsett said that if there is a legitimate offense there should be more than one person that’s upset about it. Woods stated we have done nothing done on the decay ordinance.
Smith says she is confused about the letters about the fences. She received one early in the month about one fence but has not received anything about the other one. Woods explained that it was because we just received the letter from the other person and that we will put all of the documentation together for council to review in the next meeting and then explained that we are not doing anything to these people at this time. It is not on the agenda today and will come up in a later meeting.
Neary stated 2-3-212 explains what is required in the minutes. He said he hasn’t had a lot of time to review them but that he would like to sit down with clerk and discuss some things he feels are not kosher in the minutes December 2016- July 2017
CLERK: Brought up unfunded fire department retirement fund and that we will need to bring this fund up to speed, clerk will go to training Thursday with Local Government Services. Also Woods reported that Clerk has spent a lot of time with Magda Nelson with Local Government Services and there are some things we are finding in the budget that need attention.
LIBRARY-written report provided, hours extended 10-6 on Tues and Wed, 12-5 Thurs, 12-4 on Friday and Saturday. 18 months into new circulation system, will update filtering center in September, Board has chosen Matt Pavelich for board position vacated by Lola McDougle, Liz DeRoch is new board chairman and Nisca Warthen is vice chair. 7/13/17 presentation on making your home fire safe by Tony Harwood at the Tribal Nutrition Center
ZONING COMPLIANCE OFFICER- no report
PARKS/RECREATION BOARD- Mark repaired the cover over the picnic tables in the park, Janell Clarke reported that they met 2 weeks ago to look at placement of the swing and dinosaur and that they may be placing them under to trees to create a kid space to make it family friendly.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE- Leslee Smith gave report and stated that they had met and recapped the expenses of homesteader days and the rodeo and discussed ideas for next year
ARTIST SOCIETY- Leslee Smith reported that Artist society met and Deana Hazelton is the president of the Artist Society now and they had a reception at Wall Street place and talked about the next fine arts shows that will be in September. Symes is hosting Hot Springs Artist Society Blues Festival coming up in July 28th and 29th.
MUSEUM- Swap and Shop at the Museum August 5, Keith Joiner will be music and there will be food vendors
HOT SPRINGS COMMUNITY AWARENESS- Whitsett said she spoke to David Max, reminding everyone that he runs audio broadcast of council meeting Tuesdays @ 7:00pm. They are hosing swimming at the Symes and activities in the park.
COMMUNICATIONS/PUBLIC COMMENT AGENDA ITEMS
Delta Jackson- asked about Mary Whitsett and asked if she was referring to a transcript or form the minutes. Whitsett stated she got her language from reviewing the video because it differs from the language in the minutes. Jackson said she should correct the minutes earlier in the meeting, Whitsett stated she is not asking for a correction, she was talking to a friend and was late, she just wanted to comment on it because it was pertinent to the subject that was being discussed.
Bob Jackson-asked about the borders on the property and the fences
Woods explained that your surveyed property line is your property line and that you should not build your fence on your neighbor’s property and your neighbor should not build on yours.
Bob Jackson asked commented that a lady in the meeting was talking about how her fence has been on the property for a long time
Woods stated that would not be discussed at this meeting, it will be addressed at another meeting.
SEWER PROJECT UPDATE _ Woods, we were supposed to go to bid in March, DEQ was really busy and didn’t look at the project plans to approve them for months and then did find problems. This caused delays and the Town was caught in the middle. Woods has spent a lot of time on the phone talking to different agencies to get things moving along. The plans had to go in front of the board of adjustments with corrective actions where the board of adjustments ok’d the plans. The last couple of weeks everything has been finalized and all adjustment have been made. It was then passed to funding agencies and now we are finally good to go to bid.
PreBid Conference Town Hall 7/17/17 2:00, Bid opening Town Hall 7/25/17 3:00, Council approval at August council meeting. Bob Jackson asked if there was going to be a man at the sewer plant. Woods explained that we do a daily log every day. On the sewer side at the lift station they do checks every day and check the pumps to make sure they aren’t running hot, check the flow, and at the lagoons they check the blowers, the ph and the chlorine every day.
Bob Jackson asked if there is room for expansion in the existing system
Woods stated no, the existing system can handle over 900 systems.
Woods also explained that the system is over 30 years old and down the road we will have to look at the system. The biggest problem now is infiltration of ground water. And we always have to keep the idea of expansion in the back of our minds.
Leslee Smith commented that we are still working off engineering report from 5 years ago. Woods said we do need to look at the capital improvement plan and look at the entire system and we are due to have another.
Whitsett asked if we will have a built in generator that kicks in automatically
Woods explained that in the water project we are going to do next year there will be a generator installed so that when the power goes off the generator will continue to power that system. DNRC has a grant right now to help write a capital improvement plan and we need to look into how much a Capital Improvement plan will cost the town.
LIBRARY BUDGET CHANGES FOR FY16/17: Motion to approve changes to Revenue and budget items per the library Board request made by Smith second by Neary 4-0
APPROVE LIBRARY BOARD SELECTION TO FILL BOARD VACANCY: Motion to approve the library board selection of Matt Pavelich to fill the trustee position vacated by Lola McDougle. Motion made by Whitesett second Neary 4-0
LEAVE OF ABSENCE REQUEST FOR COURT CLERK: Approve leave of absence through September 5, 2017. Court Clerk requested leave of absence to take care of her mother. Motion made by Smith Second by Adams 4-0
TEMPORARY HIRE OF REPLACEMENT COURT CLERK: Jasmine Brooks is already doing the job for us and Plains, need to approve her temporary hire through September 5, 2017. Motion made by Smith, Second by Adams 4-0
ENCROACHMENT PERMIT REQUEST: Paul Stelter request to build a deck of his 3-plex on the corner of 2nd Ave and A St. He would be building a deck off 8 feet over property line, building is 26 feet from the road. Neary questioned if the property was in Stelter’s name or if it was a corporation
Stelter replied that it is a co-op
Neary questioned whether the encroachment permit would transfer with the sale of the property with the property being a corporation and he stated that he would like to see the property.
Smith said the town should not allow it on city property.
Whitsett said the city should have more notice to investigate the issue
Woods explained that we ask for all agenda items by Tuesday so we have time to investigate it. He also suggested council seeks advice of legal counsel regarding liability to the town of building into the right of way.
Motion to table made by Smith, Second by Neary 4-0
Janell Clarke commented that the she did research on curbside gardening in Seattle and that it encourages people to use the right of ways to garden in them and that we should look at what they are doing
DISCUSSION ON UPDATING JOB DESCRIPTIONS: Whitsett asked when the job descriptions were created. Woods said he thought while Deb Endersby was mayor maybe 14 years ago.
Neary – we should take a review of them and commented that zoning compliance officer was making decisions on the fly
Woods agreed this has been a problem. Woods has told him the ordinance book is black and white and he needs to follow this.
Whitsett stated having it in black and white might not be enough because if you are going to have an ordinance about fencing you are going to want to have all kinds of contingencies in there. It might look like government over reach but it also might function to make it so there is not that much wiggle room. Whoever the zoning officer is, there is no wiggle room for the zoning compliance officer that this it the way it is and it will take some of the burden off of selective enforcement opportunities.
Woods- Times have changed, there have been some changes, we used to have 3 people in the office and now we have one and a half
DISCUSSION ON ORDINANCE CHANGES:
Janell Clarke- withdrawing her request at this time.
Woods- Wants to clarify the lot size in the ordinance because a few years ago they were running into problems with lots being made too small.
COMMUNICATIONS/PUBLIC COMMENT NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Janell Clark and Aurora Hill presented a co-housing project they are working on at the Towanda property. They will use existing zoning and clustering homes on the upper space and they will leave common space as undivided interest. She showed a drawing to the council and public as a courtesy just to let people know what they were planning to do. She explained that they would be kind of like townhomes.
Leslee Smith said she was going to request to close the street in the area of the Symes during the Blues Festival.
Whitsett commented that property taxes have gone up and people will be celebrating because their property taxes went up. She called and spoke with DOR and was told that we are being compared to Dixon and Paradise. Smith added that if you feel your appraisal is inaccurate, you can request a for an appeal.
Meeting adjourn 9:05p.m. Adams/ Smith 4-0