The meeting began at 7:05 pm with all council members present (Councilmember Kristovich arrived after the study session). After the flag salute, business item 5 was changed to Resolution 1350 instead of Resolution 501 because it needed to be approved tonight (to balance the year-end budget). The agenda was approved as amended. The minutes from September 19th, October 3rd and 17th were approved as presented with no changes.
Police: Chief Kunkel gave the run down on the calls for November (I could not hear most of it). There were no questions from the council.
Fire: Chief Torbet reported that the new breathing apparatus had been ordered. There was a discussion about what changes were needed to the fire department budget to cover the expense. Councilmember Hardin asked for an update on the fire fighter injured at the academy. Torbet said they are recovering and the academy is not going to charge them for the training. The fire fighter will repeat the course next year.
Sewer: Town engineer Jerry Morrisette provided an update on the sewer replacement project. The contractor is making good progress given the dry December weather. The two houses on Shirley Street that had flooded basements had previously had their storm sewers connected to their sanitary sewers. When the sewer was replaced, those illegal connections were removed. The mayor has directed the engineer to explore ways for the town to pay to connect the storm sewers correctly on these properties (both are elderly owners) while other funding is sought to repay the town. It sounds like there will be money available to the property owners, but it will take some time.
Ron Stanley of 5227 N. Highland complained about the change in water flow onto his property after the sewer work in his area.
1. Pine Cone Exercise: Barbara Nelson from Pierce County Emergency Management explained this was a statewide exercise scheduled for June 5th to test the emergency management system. Ruston is invited to participate. The deadline to confirm participation was today (December 19th). I didn’t hear a clear response from the council.
2. Ordinance 1340 – Street Excavation Permit Standards (2nd Reading): The town attorney outlined the new regulations, which exclude small scale landscaping if the excavation is less than 12 inches. There are potential applicants that would fall under this regulation so she urged action now. The measure passed 5-0.
3. Ordinance 1348 –Master Use Permit (1st Reading): This would apply to entities doing multiple excavation and is modeled after state law. The attorney said she would bring back an ordinance that lays out the fees for all these permits. The council did not have any further comment.
4. Ordinance 1347 – Right of Way Encroachment Permit (3rd Reading): The town attorney said the permit would be required for any structure within the town right of way and must be renewed annually. It requires that the property owner insure the structure and indemnify the town from liability. Councilmember Hardin did not want it to apply to driveways and walkways. He felt it was onerous to suddenly require yearly permits for longstanding structures like this. The council confirmed that grass and flowers were ok, but not trees. Both Councilmembers Huson and Hedrick felt the definitions were too broad as presented. Huson stated that he does not even have a town license for his dog, the last thing he was going to do was get an annual license for his hedge.
5. Ordnance 1350 – 2011 Budget Amendment (1st Reading): Mayor Hopkins apologized with the late notice. He is not happy with the accounting consultant and will work to ensure the budget is tracked better in the future. The council confirmed the changes in the budget and that this transfer from reserves of $196,000 meant a total of $266,000 was taken from reserves for the year. The mayor has directed the town maintenance men to be sure they are charging their time to the healthy utility accounts. He confirmed the clerk-treasurer is spending time on the utilities but he expected that to lessen over time. The deficit for the school in 2011 was $40,000. Huson waived the second reading, which was approved 5-0 and the ordinance was approved 5-0.
6. Discussion – Franchise Negotiations: The attorney said the town is negotiating agreements with Puget Sound Energy, Burlington Northern Railroad and Click network. She expected to present the agreements to the council by the first quarter of 2012. Click is only asking to lay empty conduit in the Point Ruston development and they will have to come back for a new agreement before actually laying cable. Hunt said Click had told her they would never provide service to the rest of Ruston. She did not like the idea of only part of the town being served. Hedrick suggested that BNSF give the town the portion of Rust Park that they own in exchange for this agreement. The mayor suggested they also trim trees on their property that are blocking views. Hardin confirmed this is the franchise from 100 years ago. The duration of the new one will be 10 years.
7. Discussion – Employee Medical Benefits: The mayor explained that the medical plan the town currently has is no longer available. There is a similar plan for $20 less per month, but he is reluctant to make any changes until the union has signed off.
8. Ordinance 1344 – 2012 Budget (3rd Reading): The mayor thanked Chief Kunkel for his work on the police budget. He was able to bring it within $1,000 of last year’s budget. This budget has a $220,000 deficit that will have to come from reserves. The ordinance passed 5-0.
Claims and Payroll passed 5-0 after Hunt questioned some police purchases.
Hopkins thanked Huson for his time serving on the council and asked him to consider sticking around two more years. Hopkins described Huson as well prepared for each meeting and always entertaining.
Huson thanked the mayor for his praise and the citizens for electing him. He felt the last two years on the council had been very enjoyable.
Hedrick said he didn’t know anyone who had given more of their time and intellect than Councilmember Huson. His leaving will be a big loss for the community.
Hunt echoed the same sentiments and encouraged Huson to get his application turned in and serve 2 more years.
Hardin described Huson as a mentor and thanked him for his service.
Kristovich called Huson a Ruston rock star and promised to learn how to pound on the table harder while he was gone in his honor.
The meeting adjourned at 8:58 pm.