This is out of sequence - I was out of town for the first meeting in December and just now found time to listen to the recording. Be sure to attend the meetings yourself and witness first hand as the meeting unfolds! ~ Karen
The meeting began at 7:02 pm with Council Member Hedrick absent (he arrived later in the meeting). After the flag salute, there was a moment of silence for the 4 fallen Lakewood officers. Lyle Hardin was then sworn in as Ruston’s newest council member (replacing Dan Albertson). After moving the street light discussion to the first item under business, the agenda and minutes from the last meeting were approved.
Kevin Moser liked the new demonstration street light at Stack Hill. He thought it was better for neighbors with views.
Beth Torbet reminded everyone about the toy and food drive the fire department is sponsoring. She suggested a tree lighting ceremony the following Saturday, December 5th at 5 pm, which met with approval.
1. Street Lights: Mo Fesharaki was present to outline the cost for the street light project with the new fixture design. The project was put out to bid in 4 parts (Pearl, Highland, Winnifred and Shirley Streets). The mayor recommended putting off Pearl Street project so the area can be coordinated with Tacoma and the state since that street is part of a state highway.
Mo noted that the lights are the worst along Winnifred, followed by Pearl Street. There were different contractors who came in as the low bidders on some streets, with the costs coming in at: Winnifred = $101,628.19, Shirley = $80,997.33, Highland = $71,742.33 and Pearl = $90,340.34. The new lights will cost $992 per pole and $898 per light fixture. Winnifred needs 24 poles at a cost of $45,360 (not including shipping). Highland will need one more pole than originally planned since the new lights do not cover as wide an area, now needing 12.
Huson suggested getting all the light fixtures at once to save shipping. Hunt wanted to know if it would be cheaper to use the same contractor for all the work but was told the bids were done separately so they could get the best price for each piece of the project. Stebner wanted to know where the extra money was going to come from. Mayor Hopkins told him the new hotel/motel tax could be used for street lighting. Stebner felt using the surplus property fund for this was acceptable, but the rest of the council preferred to use the electrical reserve fund. The mayor also noted there was also money if the capital investment fund. He wanted direction from the council on how they wanted to proceed. Hunt suggested getting Highland, Winnifred and Shirley done now, but keep the discussion going with the other agencies for Pearl Street.
The mayor noted concern he had heard from some citizens about raising taxes while “crying broke”, yet there is all this new spending. He wanted to educate citizens about how the funds can be spent; new taxes are for the general fund while the reserve funds can only be used for specific utilities like sewer or street lighting. Stebner pointed out that the lighting along Winnifred is dangerous and needs to be replaced now. The motion to allow the mayor to enter in contract negotiations for the three streets was approved 5-0 (Hedrick arrived during the discussion).
2. Resolution 457: to extend the contract with the municipal judge was moved to the next meeting.
3. 2010 Budget: The mayor said LESA services had been added back into the budget, leaving a $125,000 deficit for the year. On a side note, he informed the council that they will be getting their information packets electronically from now on, saving paper and police time (they deliver the packets). Stebner confirmed that the paper copies would still be available to the public at the meetings.
The mayor has learned that the Harbor Improvement Fund can be used for storm/sanitary sewer work. Since this fund no longer receives any state funding, he has moved the full $350,000 into the sewer reserve. It will be used for loans for residents who cannot afford the required upgrade on their side sewer connections to the new lines. The USDA loan cannot be used for this purpose, so the town must find its own funding.
Hopkins reported that his exit interview with outgoing Council Member Albertson focused on improving the space at Town Hall. Since the school will not be used for Town Hall, he wants to put money aside to make improvements to the appearance and functionality of the current location. Stebner was concerned that by remodeling the building would have to be brought up to current codes.
Hardin wanted to confirm there was no more money needed from the Harbor Improvement Fund for the shoreline planning the planning commission is just starting. The mayor said funding for that effort had already been pulled out – and the town had a grant for some of the work as well.
Stebner felt that the new sewer lines were only half the battle. Someone will have to inspect to ensure that storm water is not getting into the sanitary sewer lines.
The mayor outlined a list of things he wants council assistance on:
Hardin: improving the town web site. He has dedicated $24,000 per year for maintenance and updates. He hopes to build a site that gives easy access to town processes like building permits, council meeting recordings and more. He wants everything at Town Hall to be electronic.
Hedrick: improving the professional appearance of the police and fire departments. The mayor felt we have extremely good first responders and wants to add to that with better uniforms, flags with Ruston on them or other improvements. He also wanted to look at ways to improve security at the police office. Hedrick agreed but felt it would be awhile until a dollar amount for the changes could be determined.
Claims and Payroll was approved 5-0
Hopkins outlined more help he is hoping for from the council:
Hunt: liaison with the business district. He also wanted a monthly update from the business district at a council meeting.
Hedrick: continued help with lawsuits and security updates for the police and fire departments.
Huson: working with the planning department to determine impact fees, and to help develop an investment policy for the town.
Hardin: Along with the town web site, upgrading the town computer systems.
Huson felt the town owns too much property for a municipality of this size, given the maintenance costs. He felt the town should get rid of either the school or the town hall. The council should decide which location best suits the town’s needs and get rid of the other site. He felt building another tall building next to The Commencement condos would not hurt now that the school building and area had been compromised.
Hedrick wanted to go over the procedures the police use. He noted the recent police murders had occurred while the officers were doing administrative work and wanted to ensure our officers were as safe as possible while doing similar work.
The recording cut off a few minutes early, so that was all I got of the meeting.