The meeting was called to order at 7:08 pm by Mayor Hopkins. Councilmember Hunt was excused from the meeting. After the flag salute, the agenda was amended to include an executive session. There were no minutes ready to approve.
Town engineer Jerry Morrisette gave an update on the sewer replacement project. Among the issues discussed was the discovery of two more homes along Highland Avenue that are discharging storm water into their sanitary sewer. One of the houses appears to have tapped onto an underground spring and has water infiltrating at a rate of 5 gallons per minute. The town and the homeowner will need to make some costly repairs to address the problem. The owner had not been contacted yet.
Loren Cohen from Point Ruston thanked the town for the quick work on the sign code and urged the council to approve the new lease with them for the school building.
Beth Torbet discussed the new banners for the business district that Tacoma will be providing at no cost through the inter-local agreement. She was concerned that the town's new requirement that banners could not exceed 18" would not be readable and had been made without any input from the business district.
I asked for clarification on what the town would require for the Cadillac Car Show and Family Fair. The mayor will put the business district on the agenda for the next meeting so there could be more than 2 minutes to discuss the issue (the time limit for public comment). He required the district to outline the requirements.
Ordinance 1366 - Sewer Rate Revision (2nd Reading): Passed 4-0 with no discussion.
Ordinance 1363 - Sign Code Amendment (2nd Reading): Passed 4-0 with no discussion.
Ordinance 1364 - Collective Gardens Zoning Code Amendment (1st Reading): The attorney outlined the provisions for this regulation and how it related to medical marijuana dispensaries once Ruston lifts its moratorium. Councilmember Hedrick commented that the governor made an ill-advised decision on this issue last year that left local municipalities with potential liabilities. Councilmember Hardin confirmed this law was needed in order for the police to enforce community gardens being used to grow illegal substances.
Resolution 501 - Amendment to Council Rules of Procedure: Hedrick confirmed the change to Tuesday nights for the council meetings will begin at the next meeting. The resolution passed 4-0.
Resolution 502 - Point Ruston Lease Approval: Hedrick noted he is happy to sign but wanted the public to know this only covers Ruston's operating costs on the school. It does not provide funding for seismic upgrades or other improvements. Hardin complemented the mayor and Point Ruston for negotiating a reasonable compromise. Passed 4-0.
Resolution 503 - Purchase Resolution/Competitive Bids: The attorney outlined the measure, which passed 4-0 with no discussion.
The council adjourned for a 15 minute executive session to discuss pending litigation.
Claims (no payroll): Approved 4-0
Hopkins announced it was time to review the utility rates to ensure the town is charging enough to cover costs and have enough in reserve funds. He noted sewer rates had not been raised since 2009, yet the town costs have increased.
He was glad the purchase procedure was approved. The town attorney has had to correct him - at times asking him what he is doing. When he replies that he is running a business she points out the town is not a business and there are more rules to follow. The mayor noted that the first jury trial the town has seen in many years is underway.
Hopkins has requested bids on a "Welcome To Ruston" sign for the first round-a-bout at Point Ruston. The town electrical engineer confirmed the round-a-bout has power to illuminate the sign, but it is Tacoma's - so the town has to negotiate to use it. The engineer is identifying where street lights can be turned off as a cost savings measure. The police department is involved so ensure public safety is not compromised.
Hedrick thought he and the mayor would be meeting the next Friday with the Department of Revenue, but the mayor asked for more time because he did not have the documentation yet.
Hardin asked some questions on the street lights.
Kristovich announced the upcoming Easter egg hunt.
Judd had no comment.
The meeting adjourned at 8:32 pm.