Thursday, December 6, 2012

Council Meeting Notes: Dec. 4, 2012

The mayor called the meeting to order at 7:0.02pm. Councilmember Hunt was absent and unexcused for the second meeting in a row. The agenda and minutes were approved with no discussion 4-0.

Staff Report
Jerry Morrissette, town engineer, provided an update on the sewer project. The work is done except for three “punch list” items, the most significant being the on-going dispute over the three alley’s that Ruston wants repaved. Overall, the project is within budget. The mayor projected a total cost of $4.2 million. Hopkins wants to close out the loan now and pay for any additional costs from the sewer reserve fund. The loan has to be closed soon or there will be additional charges.

Public Comment
I corrected a statement from the last meeting and confirmed that one of the properties refusing to allow EPA to sample their yard is within Ruston.

1 & 2. Ordinance 1387 & 1388 – Updating B&O Taxes (2nd Reading): Passed 4-0 with no discussion.

3-6. Ordinance 1375, 1385, 1383, 1384 – Adult Entertainment (1st Reading): Although these ordinances had been discussed before, the recording from the planning commission hearing did not work so another hearing was held. The planning commission added the changes suggested by the council at the last meeting and brought the ordinances back to the council again. There was no discussion.

7. Ordinance 1389 – Amending Electrical Meters to Remove Fees (1st Reading): When the fee schedule was reviewed for the adult entertainment license fees, it was decided that the cost for removing electrical meters should be added to the fee schedule instead of this ordinance. The fee schedule can be changed easily via a resolution without a second reading, as would be required if the fee remained in the ordinance. There was no discussion.

8. Ordinance 1390 – 2013 Budget Adoption (1st reading): The mayor expects B&O taxes to increase from $26,000 to$36,000 in 2013 with tonight’s ordinance. There was more discussion about carrying police officer’s spouses on the medical insurance. Kristovich wanted the issue revisited and the mayor promised to present options that reduced the town’s costs but increased the deductible for the officers.

Hopkins estimated Ruston has enough in reserves to last 21 years at the current burn rate, but with new development on the horizon on Stack Hill and elsewhere, he hoped to see the budget balance even before Point Ruston is finished. Hedrick confirmed that when Hopkins took office the deficit was running about $500,000 per year, now down to $170,000 estimated for 2012. The mayor noted the cost for legal and planning but felt it was a good investment. He also discussed the loan for the new-to-us garbage truck, which will be repaid over three years. He plans on continuing those same payments even after the loan is repaid to begin saving for the next truck.

Hedrick recalled spending more for legal on “the back end” (after being sued) so he supports the upfront cost now. Hardin applauded the mayor’s plan to save for the next garbage truck. Hardin also wanted the police chief to reduce his budget to 15% over the historic costs rather than the current 25%. (Chief Kunkel had explained previously that he budgets for actual costs, but often finds lower cost items - which resulted in a 25% savings in 2012). Hardin is also opposed to the proposed purchase of a surveillance camera. The mayor said he had removed it from the budget.

9. Resolution 529 – Master Fees: Because this was a large document with many fees listed, the attorney presented it to the council early so they would have time to review. The resolution should not be voted on until after the adult licensing ordinances were approved. The new fees include the electrical meter removal and increase fees for engineering review.

Claims & Payroll passed 4-0 with no discussion

Mayor’s Time
Post cards on the schedule for implementing the new garbage truck should go out by Friday. The new cans have serial numbers and will be tracked. Owners are responsible for them. Hopkins will be asking the council for a decision on Point Ruston’s proposal to do only curb and gutter on Baltimore Street for now. Tacoma water slated to redo Baltimore, which will mean new paving on half the street. Point Ruston wants to complete the sidewalks and lighting when they reach 50% build out on Stack Hill or within the next two years. The work was bonded and was supposed to be done a year ago. The mayor mentioned how proud he is of staff and how they have organized and prepared town information. It had been a tough couple of weeks with developers, but he felt Ruston was in a position of power with more data to support their case.

Council Time
Hedrick confirmed the utility bills were late this month and the time for the Christmas tree lighting.
Hardin asked about an upcoming rezone request and wanted to know when the issue would be before the council for discussion.
Kristovich – no comment.
Judd – no comment.

The meeting adjourned at 7:33pm.

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