March 5, 2012 Ruston Council Meeting:
The meeting began almost immediately after the study session about the future of the school building at 7:05 pm. All council members and the mayor were present. The agenda was changed to add a staff report from the town engineer on the sewer project. There were no minutes of the last meeting ready to approve yet.
Jerry Morrisette presented more pictures of the sewer project. He said the contractor is almost done with the work along 51st Street and about 60% complete witih the project overall. He felt the contractor was doing reasonably well and did not anticipate a winter closure, which means the project should finish by September 2012. Morrisette is pushing to get the final asphalt work on 51st Street done soon and to get better grading on future temporary patching.
Ken Brown spoke for Kevin Moser who is out of town, asking again that the council save the school building. He suggested that other professionals may be willing to provide input on the future of the school beyond the one team that has presented so far. He also asked if there had been any progress on the proposal to pave the alley behind his house.
Fred Byzinker encouraged the council to look at the total picture with the school building. Money is only a part of the picture, there is the construction impact to the neighborhood if the building is torn down and a new structure built. He hoped the council considered all the input.
I commented about my concerns that the presentation by Mr. Olson’s team felt biased, with all the information pointing only towards selling the school building, especially since they have an offer on the table to purchase the building.
Bradley Huson felt it was a good study session, but there needed to be more. He encouraged the council to explore public-private partnerships where flex space for the town services could be built into any new building on the school site. That would give the town room to grow or shrink if they outsourced services, and any new building owner access to lease out space when the town was done with it. He promised to organize his suggestions in writing by the next study session. He was also concerned about the conditions of the sidewalks on Highland where the sewer construction is underway.
- Ordinance 1358 – Recreational Vehicle and Trailer Parking (2nd Reading): The town attorney had changed the window for parking before ticketing from 8 hours to 2 days (in any 7) based on the discussion at the last meeting. There would not be any need to change the zoning code. Councilmember Hunt confirmed that Police Chief Kunkel was ok with the changes. Councilmember Hardin stated he did not see the need for these changes. If it was only for aesthetics, that was not enough reason to impose these regulations. He was concerned that this would only move the problem on to private property. He felt a comprehensive look at the zoning code to close the loopholes was a better approach. Mayor Hopkins felt this would free up more parking, which would be a premium with 120 new residents soon. Hardin stated again that this had to enforced consistently everywhere in town. Kunkel said the old ordinance was unenforceable. The police have always tried to get voluntary compliance, but it doesn’t always work. Councilmember Judd felt the 4 hour limit to park on the street was too tight. It was changed to 8 hours and the ordinance passed 4-1 with Hardin voting no.
- Ordinance 1359 – Impound (2nd Reading): Councilmember Hedrick asked if the language needed to reflect that the impound fees where earmarked for police training. After some discussion, it was decided to keep the impound fees in the general budget since it is supposed to be for reimbursement of actual town costs. Judd did not think it was fair for the owner of a stolen car to have to pay impound fees. The attorney pointed out that the town could not absorb those costs. After correcting a type-o, the ordinance passed 5-0.
- Ordinance 1360 – Adopting Model Traffic Code (2nd Reading): Judd did not think the correct state code was referenced in the ordinance. He was shown where it was correct and the measure passed 5-0.
- Ordinance 1361 – Parking of Unlicensed Vehicles (2nd Reading): Passed 5-0 with no discussion.
- Ordinance 1365 – Revise Regular Schedule for Town Council Meeting (1st Reading): There is conflict with some staff who cannot attend the Monday meetings. Hedrick pointed out that changing also meant no more changes due to Monday holidays. After discussion about what days current officials are available, it was decided the meeting would be changed to Tuesdays.
Claims and Payroll: Passed 5-0
Hopkins discussed a printout from BIAS (the town accounting contractors) with the draft of the first quarter’s budget. He has directed some changes and will come back with a better report. He announced that the building permits had just been issued on the Commencement building.
Hedrick made a comment about the Huskies winning the PAC 10.
Hunt asked the town attorney to confirm what would happen if the town sold the school building. She thought they would be required to do a Request For Proposals (RFP) and other bidders would be then be allowed. The town attorney did not think RFP’s would be required, but the town could take that step if they wanted. Hunt said the council wants to hear from everyone about the school building.
Hardin had no comments.
Kristovich had no comments.
Judd had no comments.