Salted with Sharks

Council Meeting Report: Start Your Bidding

In Infrastructure and Planning, Politics on March 23, 2011 at 3:02 am

Meeting date: March 17, 2011, 7 PM

AT THE BEGINNING OF the meeting, new trustee Matt Stapleton asked how to go about getting an item on the council meeting agenda. President Reg Manville said people can go straight to the president or to Sharyn Bower at the Village Office. If it’s a controversial matter, Reg said, the person should come before the council first for them to vote on whether the item will be added to the agenda.

Marcia Stobie requested to deliver her county commissioner’s report during public comment because of a dinner reservation. The Master Plan Committee met on the 4th and went over a synopsis of the master plan public forum (held Feb. 21) prepared by Sarah Lucas of NMCoG. Frankfort is discussing a 6 mo. moratorium on medical marijuana. Stobie suggested Elberta might have a special meeting to discuss that issue. She noted that Ann Arbor spent 7 mos. writing their medical marijuana ordinance. The Lake Express will be in Frankfort harbor on May 8 offering rides on Lake Michigan; a similar event will be held in Manitowoc. Stobie said “It all depends on the Badger,” likely referring to the deadline for the Badger to upgrade its engines from coal-fired to diesel. Stobie announced that a Waterfront Smart Growth Assessment meeting will be held on March 28 with a representative from MSU Extension geared toward waterfront property owners. Stobie said Pt. Betsie Lighthouse wants to rent out a 2 bedroom apartment to raise funds. The question is whether that would affect their tax status as a nonprofit.

Chris Sullivan of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy said he was contacted by the Cooperative Weed Management Association about training volunteers to control invasive species in the Thorpe Dune area. The Conservancy has been doing garlic mustard and other weed removal work every May and June and would like that to continue once the Village acquires the property. Reg gave Sullivan permission to initiate that training ahead of the property transfer and Sullivan agreed to do so.

The bills for February, totalling $33,542.81 ($10,907.81 payroll) were approved for payment. Linda Manville requested an earnings history report detail each month. Ken Holmes said this would be 4 sheets of extra paperwork and that Sharyn and Laura Manville have enough to do, and that the suggestion had been made before and everybody got excited and it caused a lot of trouble. There was no motion on Linda’s request.

Ken said BLUA was down a bit on revenue but the decline was expected to be more than made up for by new revenue from taking in septic tanks from within a 25-mile radius.

Linda Manville for Parks and Rec reported that the financial results of the Winter Whine were not quite in yet but that it looked like Parks and Rec had made about $500 from the event. She requested that a Village credit card be made available to P&R. Currently P&R pays by a check that requires two signatures, which means two people have to be on hand for every purchase, and many places don’t take checks anymore. Ken Holmes moved to approve this request. Laura Manville said whoever’s name was on the card would have to be the one to make the purchase, and it was agreed that Bill Soper would be the one. He will have to keep the card receipts and go to the Village Office to pick up the statements, which will be sent there, because it’s all one account.

Some letters from vendors have already arrived signing on for the farmers’ market season, suggesting a continuing growth trend.

Ross Thorsen said some beach cleanup work could be done by kids in the Manistee Youth Build program, for which Sue Oseland is a coordinator, during the summer. Reg mentioned the idea of a dog beach and tackling some of the ordinance violations on the beach. Reg said there is no regular schedule for dedicated cleanups but there tend to be a lot of formal and informal volunteers. Ken Bonney of DPW affirmed that he goes down to the beach every day once the road opens April 1 to empty the trash cans.

Laura Manville recalled that she applied to Penny Holt at the DEQ for a permit to have the old beach toilets pumped out and to do something with that area but the request was denied because of the critical dune status of the beach. Another permit was applied for to reveal the pier, now covered, which goes all the way back to the old bathrooms, and that request was also denied. The boardwalk was OK’d and funded by a CZM grant. Ken said the Village bought and owns those 10 acres of the beach. Laura pointed out that Frankfort is not in a critical dune (determined during a study done in the 60s or 70s by Michigan State) and therefore they are able to do more with their beach. Ken Holmes said the funny part is that when a tank was put in just below the turn of the road, what was dug up was all blue clay. Reg said the Village would soon be tackling issues concerning use of the road on the beach.

Reg said the language is being settled now in an agreement on adding the $10K owed to the Village onto the loan the Village has with the Elberta Landholding Company. The resolution is with Scott Gest for his approval. Scott Gest and Reg had arranged a meeting with Fleis & Vandenbrink, the company that handled some sewer work on the development property that Gest says he was overcharged for, but a communications snafu put the two parties on opposite ends of the county. Reg said he will continue to pursue the matter.

Reg invited the council to attend the Waterfront Smart Growth Assessment meeting at 1:30 pm on Monday, March 28.

Linda Manville said the Budget Committee had completed its work with some amendments to the 2011/12 budget preliminarily approved at the last meeting. Reg said that when all was said and done, the budget has been cut by $115,340 from last year, which is the most he’s ever seen cut. One full-time position has been eliminated, from the garage, with a pay freeze for all Village employees, who are also giving up their spousal benefit for insurance. Ken Bonney got promoted and got a raise. The budget was examined and approved as presented.

Chris Sullivan requested the council’s approval to move forward with the management plan for the Thorpe Dune area, a process that he said takes several months. GTLRC has raised the money for the management plan already. The plan has to be developed with public input; Sarah Lucas will facilitate. Then NMCoG will bill the Village the $3,780. Sullivan said conservancy employee Liz Padalino would like to continue with invasive species eradication as part of the management plan. Sullivan said the Conservancy needs a memorandum of understanding from the Village on the timing and necessity of the management plan. He said he has a form and will put a letter together for the Village to look at and sign.

On March 31 a contractor from Lansing will come to see what needs to be done to the Lifesaving Station to get it ready for the season. Reg Manville said he wants to open the cleaning of the Lifesaving Station up to bids. The Village has a rule that payouts over $2,500 require a bid. At the new rate of $175 per cleaning (raised two years ago from $100), which renters pay up front in the form of a deposit, the limit would be hit at 14 cleanings ($2,450). Diane Jenks said she had rental numbers for just one year, 2009, and there were 20 rentals that summer. If the Lifesaving Station were rented 20 times again this summer it would be a $3,500 outlay, which is higher than policy for noncontract work. Ken Holmes said everyone is happy with the job Chris Bower is doing, that he is always available immediately, and it doesn’t make any sense to fix something that isn’t broken. Reg said he wants to make sure no one will question the fairness of the council and that any hint of nepotism on the council should be nipped in the bud. Ken Holmes and Ross Thorsen both said it would be hard to come up with a contract because we don’t know how many cleanings will be necessary. Ken moved against opening the cleaning job up to bids. He said we couldn’t afford to have any mishaps (botched cleaning jobs between rentals). He said the cleaning was labor and the payout limit of $2,500 was for purchasing agreements and that it had nothing to do with labor. The motion was not seconded.

It costs Elberta residents $2,500 to rent the Lifesaving Station—$2,000 plus a $500 deposit, which includes the cleaning fee. For nonresidents it’s $3,000—$2500 plus the $500 deposit.

Reg said he wanted one person to do the work and that it should be on a contract basis. He said a job description should be made up—a full review of everything that goes into cleaning and prepping the Lifesaving Station for rental. Ken Holmes said on more than one occasion the Village Office has had to find someone in a hurry to clean the station because it wasn’t done right. Since Chris has been doing the job there’s been no problem for two years. Bill Soper suggested that the cleaning fee be raised to $200 so the Village could make a little money off it. Reg asked if Sharyn knew the average number of rentals in the past two years; she did not, offhand. Dave Bower suggested that we have the renters deal with the cleaning person directly and make a check out to them to solve the problem. Diane moved that a job description be developed in which the cleaning job is spelled out in detail, and that it be put out to bid on a per job basis but with a commitment to a whole season. The motion was approved. Sharyn will put an advertisement in the paper right away announcing the open bid, and bidders will stop by the office and pick up a bid form; Diane said she’d be happy to help with administration matters surrounding the bidding. It was decided that a cleaning contractor selection would be made at the May meeting.

Ken Bonney said he needs part-time help and would like to commit to hire his current helper two days a week as a minimum payment to keep him on. Some projects, especially water and sewer related, require two people, and he wants to make sure he can have access to the help when he needs it during the summer and into next winter. The rate would be $10 an hour. The council approved the request.

Some bids were received to service the Porta-Jons. Reg asked if the bid had been open long enough for the council to make a selection. Sharyn said she didn’t advertise but she called around to a few companies. Matt Stapleton asked which companies have been used in the past. Bill Soper said Parks and Rec have been very happy with Williams and Bay. Matt asked how often the work had to be done and why we were putting the work out to bid. Sharyn said because there had been so many complaints about the Porta-Jons, the Council had asked her to get some bids. Matt asked if this was a service, not labor, and that’s why bids were being taken. Ken Holmes affirmed that yes, the Porta-Jon maintenance is a contract service. Linda Manville moved that the council go with Williams and Bay Portable Restrooms, and the motion was approved.

Reg Manville said that he talked to Village attorney Joe Quant and that the “blanket OK” he received last meeting for him to sign the language on the Thorpe Dune purchase agreement from the Conservancy might be challenged in court, so he needed an explicit motion granting him approval to sign whatever agreement is drawn up. This was so moved and approved.

The meeting dates for 2011/12 were approved after some discussion of whether the meeting day could be moved to Monday to accommodate Matt Stapleton’s schedule at the high school. Ken Holmes said moving the day would cut him out of the meetings. Matt said he would do his best to show up when he could. Ψ

The Alert aims to report thoroughly and accurately on Village meetings; however, we usually have just one reporter per meeting, and some topics may be missed or misconstrued. Please submit any corrections to, or simply comment on the blog. We value your input! Official minutes of the Village Council meetings are posted on the Village of Elberta website, and copies of minutes and agendas are available from the Village Office.

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