Minonk City Hall was packed Monday night to witness a No Confidence vote on City Administrator Doug Elder. Aldermen Justin Faulk and Russell Ruestman and Alderwomen Kari Carls and Julie Redenius vote yes on the No Confidence vote while Aldermen Nick Fiorini and Larry Fortner voted no. The vote was precipitated by accusations from Faulk at the previous council meeting that Elder kept an agenda item requested by Faulk off the last council meeting. At the last meeting Mayor Bill Koos said he directed Elder not to put the item requested by Faulk on the agenda as the 48 hour time lapse before the Friday deadline was not met and there was not enough time to prepare for the item to be discussed, which was the adding of an old and new business feature to the regular agenda. In the wording of the motion for the No Confidence vote, Ruestman stated that the lines of communication had broken down between the City Administrator and the council. The vote is non binding and is a proclamation only by the council. Only the Mayor has the authority to hire or fire a City Administrator.
Mayor Koos had the City's attorney, Derke Price, attend the council meeting to address the protocol on adding items to the agenda. Price indicated that no one person can control the agenda, the agenda can only be controlled by the council as a whole. Potential agenda items can be brought up at a council session and then added to the next meeting's agenda. This gives council members and also the public time to study the points of the agenda. In the case of the City Administrator not putting Faulk's item on last meeting's agenda, the request was made on a Thursday which did not meet the 48 hour deadline of Friday evening and, therefore, the item was legitimately excluded from the agenda as stated in the City's ordinance. Price added that the council can change this time deadline if they wish.
As a result of this discussion, Faulk made a motion to add Old and New Business as an item on the regular agenda which was approved by the Council. The requested format change to the agenda was on the current agenda.
Attorney Price said any council member can contact his office for legal advice. Permission is not required by the Mayor.
EMS Business Plan and 2013 Mandate
Ambulance Chief Deb Stewart told the Council the department has been preparing for the 2013 Mandate for advancing to the next EMT level. She said if they adopt the new curriculum the squad will gain 2 medications that can be added to the current 18 medications the EMT's are allowed to administer. If the ambulance program does not advance to the new curriculum, only 3 medications can be administered by the squad. Stuart said this would severely diminish the quality of care that can be provided by the ambulance squad.
The backdrop to the current ambulance squad situation is that the City has been meeting with the fire department in hopes of bringing the fire department on board to help fund the ambulance squad. Attorney Derick Price told the council that in most municipalities the fire district is the primary provider for funding the ambulance services. Price said the fire departments have twice the taxing capabilities as city governments to fund an ambulance service. Currently, the entire burden of providing funds for the ambulance squad falls on the City of Minonk. Price said it is perfectly legal for the City to ask the fire department to have a tax on the entire fire district it services instead of just the City of Minonk itself.
Alderman Ruestman said the City can't force the fire department to impose a tax and the City needs to work together with the fire department to make things happen. Ruestman also added that the City can't proceed to work with the fire department if the Council is not kept informed. Mayor Koos then produced 6 letters of meetings discussing the fire department issue in which Ruestman had attended. Koos said emails summarizing the results of the meetings were sent to each council member and emphatically stated that all council members have been duly informed of the discussions on the fire department issue. Koos added that $250,000 is needed by August 6 in order to fund the ambulance operations.
Parks & Rec Plan
Alderman Ruestman requested that a plan to hire a paid Parks & Recreation Director be given to the Parks & Recreation Committee. Ruestman said he felt the salary for a director could be funded by fees and also by savings from not having to travel out of town and pay fees to other communities like El Paso where many of the recreation activities are now taking place. Alderman Fiorini, who is the head of the Parks & Rec Committee, said he didn't feel the volunteers on the Parks & Rec Board will have the time to come up with a plan before the next budget is approved. Rich Luckey, the new Parks & Rec Director, said they are having a meeting Sunday night to come up with a plan for upcoming activities and needs of the program and will present them to the Council at the next meeting. Mayor Koos added the Parks & Rec Committee needs to determine needs first before deciding whether a paid director is needed.
Outgoing Parks & Rec Director Roger Gaspardo said two bids of $6840 and $6950 have been received for the construction of a new backstop at the east side baseball diamond. Gaspardo said about 15% of foul balls fly over the backstop and into the street causing a safety hazard. The council approved a maximum of $7200 to be spent on a new backstop.
The appointment of Andrew Noyes from part time to full time police officer was approved by the Council. His salary will start at $14.45 and hour. In three years, his rate will be raised to the level of the other current full time officer.
The appointments of Tony Ladd and Jason Buchanan to the Parks & Recreation Committee were approved by the Council.
Finance Committee Report
Due to a population decrease, the City will receive less shared revenue than last year. For 2013, annual state shared revenues are projected at: income tax, $166,656; Motor Fuel Tax $50,080; and State Use Tax $32,832. Property tax revenue will be less in 13 of 14 property tax supported funds. Sales tax revenue is projected at $152,000 for 2013.
The annual cost of the City's group health insurance plan, which covers 10 employees, is $89,128 with 85% paid by the City and 15% paid by the employee through payroll deduction.
The Finance Committee recommended an increase of 3% across the board increase in employee compensation, with additional merit pay awarded in some cases. A 3% across the board increase would be approximately $20,000 in additional compensation for FY 2013. The latest CPI-W shows an increase of 3.6% over the last 12 months.
Charlie McGuire said some local residents have had damage done to their sewer lines by a contractor who refused to pay for the damage. McGuire said the Council should consider an ordinance requiring contractors to be liable for any damage done to sewer or water lines in the City.