Salted with Sharks

February Elberta Council Meeting Report: Same Playing Field

In Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Village Money Situation on March 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

By Emily Votruba

VILLAGE COMMUNITY BUILDING, February 20, 2013—A date and the spelling of Jennifer Wilkins’s name were corrected on the January meeting minutes. Wilkins’s name was also added to the agenda under the Beach Committee report, as she is a new member of that committee.

PUBLIC HEARING ON 2013–14 BUDGET The trustees reviewed the proposed budget for 2013–14 and heard public comment. Two budget meetings were held (January 16 and 23), attended by Budget Committee members Laura Manville (Village Treasurer), Sharyn Bower (Village Clerk), Reggie Manville (Village President), and Jennifer Wilkins (Trustee), along with DPW head Ken Bonney and Emily Votruba (member of public).

The bulk of the budget hearing was spent discussing repairs and renovations to the Life Saving Station (LSS). Council reviewed the Budget Committee’s recommendation of $9,000 for repairs and maintenance in the Waterfront Park. According to Laura, and to Sharyn’s minutes for the February meeting, the work done by Ross Thorsen and a few other residents, some paid and some volunteer, went over budget last year by over $15,000; the budget was $12,000 and there is now a negative cash balance in that fund of some $10,000. Thorsen is still owed about $4,000 for his work. During the budget meetings and at this night’s Council meeting Reggie Manville said that he had given the go-ahead for the extra expenditures, including additional work Thorsen saw as necessary and for door hardware. These expenditures did not come before council for approval. A significant portion of the cost ($2,500) came from the locksmith’s fee for changing the locks and handles on the doors, which was much more expensive than anticipated. Ross, through an agreement with Laura and at his request is being slowly paid for the work by having checks to him applied to his tax bills and water bills. This may be one reason why council members, though they saw copies of these checks in their packets, didn’t seem to have a grasp of how much money had been spent and was still owed.

Linda Manville expressed concern that the $9,000 budgeted for Waterfront Park repairs and maintenance will not be enough to continue improvements to the Life Saving Station, which she agrees are necessary. “That building is one of the few things that brings money into the Village and we can’t afford to let it go into disrepair.” She asked for separate lines under the Waterfront Park department budget for grounds maintenance versus LSS maintenance and repair. As it stands there’s a single item Repairs/Maintenance that covers the entire Waterfront Park. According to Ken Bonney, this money must cover maintenance on the Fishing Pavilion (which he says has needed painting for at least two years), the Amphitheater (which also needs painting), the playground, the pavilion, and all mowing. In addition, Ken says, that money ends up going toward mowing of the ball field near the Community Building, and repairs/maintenance on all the other parks as well, which don’t have separate budget items. The Parks and Rec Commission (Department 754) has just $250 budgeted for repairs and maintenance, all coming from Parks and Rec fundraising efforts.

At a previous meeting Council had discussed devoting 20% of LSS revenues for LSS repairs. Laura said the recommended $9,000 would actually be slightly over 20% of revenues from last year. Linda said she wanted to make sure as much money as possible went toward paying down what is owed Thorsen as well as supporting further work, for which he has submitted an estimate of about $1,400. “I think we have the bulk of that $9,000 spent and that doesn’t leave much for the coming year,” Linda said. Laura said that most of the repairs and maintenance budget ends up going toward the LSS, rather than the rest of the park, anyway. She added that the amount listed as rental revenue from the LSS ($41,730) didn’t reflect refunds on the $300 deposit* collected for each rental (refunds for 2012–13 totaled $8,375). Therefore, 20% of the total net revenue is actually only about $6,000.

Park Fund cash is thus at –$10,402.47 because of overspending, Laura said. “We had $58,795 in expenses, and a loss of $17,065 in just the Waterfront Park. First that has to be made up. You can’t run a negative balance,” she said.

Diane wondered how we got so far behind. Laura said it had happened in the past two years. “We have never ever been in a negative balance in the Park Fund.” Diane: “That’s because we’ve never done anything to [the building].” “Right,” said Laura, “but you can’t do it all at once. You’ve got some things to think about. You need to hold off, unless Ross is willing to not take his money. There can be no other expenses in there. You overspent last year, you’re in the hole. If something major happens, a window breaks, there’s no money for it.”

Laura added that LSS rentals had gone down since the opening of the Oliver Art Center. “We were already down [in revenue] $15K since last year. And then there were these unanticipated expenses.”

Reggie said, “This council is catching up on repairs that should have been done in the past.” He said Ross had said we could do it on the cheap or we could do it the right way and it’ll be done for a long time. “That’s how we overspent.” Reggie suggested that for the additional repairs the community could get together for a work bee. “We did that with the playground. It didn’t cost us anything for installation.” Laura said she thought Ross should be paid as soon as possible and that it should not be spread out over another year.

Linda asked how much of the budgeted $9,000 would likely be spent on the grounds. Laura said “We mow it ourselves” [meaning Ken Bonney and Charlie Hendershott]. Ken Bonney, reached by phone, said until 2010 the Village paid Mark Walkley $5,000 to mow the Waterfront Park. That was eliminated as part of the cost saving measures that also saw the firing of Dave Hoogerhyde, bringing the DPW down to just one full-time and one part-time employee. Ken says that with the increase in the price of fuel and the cost of equipment maintenance, it’s unlikely the Village is saving any money at this point by having him and Charlie mow instead of Mark Walkley. $12,500 is budget for labor paybacks for the Waterfront Park and $3,000 in labor paybacks under Parks and Recreation. That $3,000 is market master Sue Oseland’s wages.

“Sharyn’s and my wages are split 6 ways,” said Laura, depending on how much work time they spend on activities related to each fund. Funds are determined by revenue streams. We have a Park Fund because regular revenue is generated by the Waterfront Park in the form of Life Saving Station rentals. We have a Major Streets Fund and a Local Streets Fund because we draw revenue from the State of Michigan for road maintenance. Here’s a breakdown, per a handout distributed by Laura at a previous meeting:

salary draw percentages by fund

Linda said separate items for grounds maintenance vs. LSS maintenance would offer a closer comparison between what is taken in by the LSS and what is spent on it. Laura said a separate line would make more work for the office and she could give Linda a detailed printout with that information at any time.

Linda said that in 2011 the Village had a separate fund for the Parks and Recreation Commission in addition to the Park Fund. She asked why the Parks and Rec fund had been folded into the Park Fund. Since they have a separate checking account, she asked if we could go back to having a Parks and Recreation Fund.

Laura said that Parks and Rec falls under the Park Fund because of the auditor-recommended Village takeover of Parks and Rec accounting. Parks and Rec added a lot of funds and had to be under their own department. She said the commission had added a lot of line items for expenses and revenues (fundraisers, posters, etc.), and there can’t be a separate Parks and Rec Fund because “you can’t have revenue accounts split. They’re all under Park Fund revenue.”

Jennifer asked if Parks and Rec revenue was figured into the 23% of clerk and treasurer wages drawn from the Park Fund.

Laura: “No, no, no. It’s not out of Park and Rec.”

Ken Holmes: “It has nothing to do with it. You’ve got a piece of paper there you’re looking at that tells you what we’ve got coming in and where it’s going. You gotta think about it, where it’s going. There’s check numbers there that don’t go anywhere else but where those numbers are” [raising his voice]. “Because we’ve had all the problems with the Park and Rec a few years ago, I’ve got letters in my script here that says if we don’t do something pretty quick they’ll close us down. That was just from a year ago. Understand that?”

Laura: “Waterfront Park labor paybacks are coming out of revenue from the Waterfront Park. Nowhere ever are you helping pay in labor for what we do for Solstice and Park and Rec. Although we spend a lot of time, I could. I could have a labor payback for Solstice because I of all the bookwork I do in the office. But I don’t. Really there should be a labor payback in every fund. But Waterfront Park takes it.”

Diane: “Well, everybody else working on Solstice does it voluntarily.”

Linda: “My thought was that Park and Rec have come under the gun so often, because every time they turn around there’s a question or an accusation, if we had a separate fund for them as in 2011, it’d be easier for the auditor; I thought the whole picture would be clearer. But you’re saying to me that can’t happen.”

Laura: “They’re completely on the books now. This is the way it’s supposed to be according to the General Ledger.”

Reggie: “The reason we did this is because of our audit. The way we were doing it before wasn’t legal, was wrong. Now we don’t have any problem. We don’t have a problem with the state now.”

Linda: “I wasn’t asking to change how it’s handled or to take anything out of the office. I was just asking if the record could show two different funds. Not asking to change anything the state has said we need to do.”

Laura: “Those fund [number]s are mandated by the state of Michigan. Under that you can set up any departments you want or any expenditures you want. [Laura named the numbers that must be assigned to each department.] Parks and Rec have their own department under the Park Fund.”

Reggie: “Is that explanation satisfactory? I’m asking, is that explanation satisfactory.”

Linda said she would have preferred a different response, but if the state mandated it, so be it.

Emily Votruba referred to the sheet handed out by Laura at a previous meeting in response to Bill Soper’s queries about the percentage of tax income going to workers’ wages here vs. in other local municipalities. “Are these percentages accurate in terms of the actual amount of hours you spend per fund?”

Laura said yes.

Emily: “You work 32 hours a week each not including overtime, so that would be 10.8 hrs of work each toward things having to do with the general fund [17%]; 3.2 hours for major streets, 3.2 hours for local streets [5% per fund]; 14.72 hrs/week related to LSS and anything related to Parks [23%]. Then we get down to the Water Fund [25%] and the Sewer Fund [25%], for a total of 16 hours, half your week each, on those two funds. My impression is that you spend a lot of time, necessarily, on the LSS and Waterfront Park.”

Laura: “Sure, we do. It’s a massive amount of hours. It’s more than you think it is.”

Emily: “I feel like it’s also a lot more time than you spend on water and sewer. Do those two funds really amount to more time than you spend on the LSS?”

Laura: “It’s accurate. We just looked at it a couple of years ago.”

Emily: “So you spend more time on the Sewer Fund, just sewer-related things, than you do on the Park Fund?”

Laura: “You’ve got… [reads percentages].”

Emily: “It just seems a little topsy turvy. It seems like a greater percentage should come out of the Park Fund, because you spend more time doing that work.”

Laura: “You have to look at revenues too. Some years we spend more time on it than we did this year. We try to get a happy medium in terms of how much time we spend on each fund.”

Linda: “Last year Village residents incurred a rate increase of 93.5% in their ready-to-serve water bill, from $3.10 to $6. I met with Laura and she shared with me that the water account was in the negative and she had the authority to raise the rates. I looked back at how much revenue is actually generated in the Water Fund after the increase and I related it to the 25% total labor payback. The water revenue runs between $38K and $40K per year but labor paybacks at 25% each was over $17K. That means 45% of Water Fund revenue is being used for labor paybacks. In the report that you gave us, you were basing it on total compensation [including benefits]. I was disappointed that we had to endure an increase in that ready-to-serve rate.”

Laura: “It’s still struggling even with that percentage increase.”

Ken Holmes: “The thing that’s not shown is we’re paying two bond issues for water alone and another bond issue for sewer.” Ken Holmes then said he was satisfied with the audit, more satisfied that he was a couple of years ago when there were “too many things wrong with it, which weren’t our fault, but their fault”—presumably referring to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Laura said we’re currently paying our attorney fees at the rate of $2,000 a month. We had paid back our prior attorney fees, but then the litigation expenses from Loy Putney’s lawsuit against the Village and consulting attorney fees on our Zoning Board of Appeals process have racked expenses back up. According to Sharyn, as of March 5 we had paid $8,700 toward those bills and still owed about $30K.

Reggie said the law firm (Kuhn, Darling, Boyd & Quandt) had changed its payment policy, calling for a greater monthly rate.

Matt Stapleton, new Parks and Rec liaison, asked if it was a state requirement that labor paybacks be spread out and broken down among funds in this way.

Laura said yes. GASB (Governmental Accounting Standard Board) 34 mandates that each fund must reflect the expenditures it really incurred.

Matt said he would like to see future budgets include a list of expenditures by fund so we can see how much we’re spending on employee compensation (wages and insurance) for DPW, trustees, clerk, and treasurer. Laura said she could do that.

Linda asked if GASB sets the percentage limits per fund and whether there is a maximum percentage that can be drawn out of each fund.

Laura said she sets the percentages. “I don’t know if there’s a minimum or a maximum, I just know that we’re within that guideline.” The auditor had never told her to change it.

The regular meeting was resumed.

APPROVAL OF BILLS Linda said the Parks and Rec check register for January showed a check made to market master Sue Oseland for $43.95. It’s the off season, so her pay is supposed to be $10/week.

Laura said Sue had asked her if she could be paid like Ross. “So we pay her taxes and her water bill every month.”

Linda: “Do we have that arrangement for anybody else?”

Laura said no and added that Parks and Rec would have to settle up with Sue before the end of the year. Parks and Rec owed Sue a balance of about $1,000.

The matter had first come to light during the previous Parks and Rec meeting when someone noticed that there were several checks made out to Sue in varying amounts. Sue, who was at the meeting, was surprised to see the images of checks made out to her—she had never seen the checks, just a printout showing that her tax and water bills had been paid. Sue had not signed the checks.

Linda asked what happened to the check made out to Sue from the Parks and Rec account.

Laura said she stamps “for deposit only” on the checks and deposits them into whichever fund is relevant, the water fund or the general fund for taxes. Sue’s Gilmore Township taxes were also being paid this way. “If I’m cashing it that’s different, then I’d have to endorse it. If you want her to walk over every month and sign that check, if that would make you feel better, that’s fine with me. She asked me to do it, I agreed. If Park and Rec has an issue with it, you’ll have to get with her. I just pay her. I don’t have anything to do with the agreement she has with Park and Rec. It’s their market master and it’s their deal.”

Jennifer Wilkins (also VP/secretary of P&R): “Isn’t Park and Rec supposed to approve an arrangement like this first?”

Laura: [inaudible] “It says in your bylaws… It’s the same thing we do with Ross Thorsen. You know how many people we write checks to? If we had to have a contract with everyone… Now, if you have an issue with it and you feel she should have come to you—she’s your market master—then you need to talk to her and say we want you to take it like you’re supposed to.”

Jennifer: “Because you are the treasurer for Park and Rec—”

Reggie: “What is your problem here?”

Linda: “My concern is that we have issued checks from the Parks and Rec in the name of an individual and that check is then taken and deposited without that person’s signature. To me that’s like a two-party check. Is that acceptable banking practice? Is our auditor aware of this practice of taking a two-party check and depositing it without an endorsement?”

Laura: “I have people who pay me their Gilmore Township taxes and their Village taxes with the same check.”

Linda: “But that’s written to you. These checks are made out to [Sue Oseland]. Are Ross’s tax and water bill checks made out to Ross?” Laura said they were.

Linda: “I can understand with Ross because we owe Ross out of Village funds. And I know that Park and Rec money comes under the Village. [Sue is paid out of revenue from the Farmers’ Market, but apart from that all Parks and Rec money is raised by Parks and Rec members and volunteers.] We don’t have the money to pay Ross, and thank God he’s willing to do this or we wouldn’t have the money to get anything done. For the market master, there’s no reason why this should happen. Parks and Rec has the money in their account to pay her [the budgeted amount].” Linda also said she wondered about the amount of time being spent by Laura dealing with this arrangement. Laura said it was true that it made more work. Linda: “I don’t think it’s in the interest of the rest of the residents that you’re spending time doing this.”

Sharyn pointed out that the new system was an improvement over previous years because the market master is now being paid regularly and was issued a 1099.

Diane asked if Ross gets a 1099.

Reggie: “We all get a 1099 now. Since Parks and Rec was paying the market master without taxes, without a check [former market master Meg Louwsma was paid cash by Laura out of receipts from the market]—weren’t you part of Park and Rec at the time?” he asked Linda, meaning that she was Parks and Rec liaison.

Connie Manke (P&R president, from audience): “You were, Reggie.”

Reggie: “You’re out of order.” To Linda: “All I’m saying is that all the sudden you’re picking and choosing what you’re going after. Park and Rec were paying their market master without taking taxes out. These are the things we have to correct.”

Diane: “You don’t take taxes out of a 1099.”

Laura: “She wasn’t getting a 1099.”

Reggie: “This is why we’re doing it now.”

Linda: “I’m not talking about the 1099.”

Reggie: “I tell you what, if you used that fine-toothed comb when you were with Parks and Rec we wouldn’t have some of these problems.”

Bill Soper (former trustee and a member of Parks and Rec, from audience): “You were the liaison back then, Reggie.”

Reggie [raised voice]: “You’re out of order!”

Bill [normal tone of voice]: “You’re an asshole.”

Reggie: “OK. You’re out.”

Bill: “Fine.”

Reggie: “I can have the police come. I’m asking you to leave. Now.”

Bill (getting up and leaving): “I’m sorry I said that, everybody. I apologize to everybody, except you [to Reggie].”

There was more discussion of the lack of endorsement, and Laura reiterated that it was fine with her if Sue was paid as originally decided, receiving a check for a regular amount.

Getting back to the matter of the month’s bills, Linda asked if Ken Bonney’s pay as zoning administrator would show up under “Other” as it did for former ZA Carl Noffsinger. January’s receipts were $25,930; accounts payable expenses $53,401.5; payroll expenses $11,753.20; Parks and Rec expenses $73.95; for a total of $65,228.71 in expenditures. “With some reservations, I recommend that we approve these bills that have already been paid,” Linda said.

DPW Ken Bonney said he had replaced a leaking main line water valve at First and Valley and had repaired the sewer where it hooked up to the main line on Lincoln—some roots had gotten into it. “I had the company come and clean the one block of line.” Snow plowing continued. [Editor’s note: Ken regularly plows out people’s driveways as a courtesy.] Ken said people had contacted him about it being too dark where patrons park along Furnace/168 across from the Mayfair Tavern. He had called Consumers about installing a street light. If there are secondary wires for the new light to hook into it will cost $100 for a light that will come on with our other lights. Two poles exist there already. Ken said he had provided Ross’s estimate for additional work, which Reggie had requested. “And the roof on the library leaks.”

WATER/SEWER/BLUA Ken Holmes said the board was still looking for another engineer. “Probably Bobby will end up going for another test.”

PARKS AND RECREATION COMMISSION Matt (new liaison) deferred to Jen. Jen said two members of the public had shown up for a good discussion of the draft of the new Recreation Plan (the 2008–13 plan is available and the draft plan will be available at http://villageofelberta.com/village-of-elberta-parks-and-recreation-plan-2008-2013/). “Emily and I are looking into making updates on general village info in the plan and we’re hoping to have it available for viewing soon.” Emily (Park and Rec member) said the next public hearing for the Rec Plan would be ahead of the March council meeting. The draft plan was being tweaked, and there will also be a survey for the public to fill out. “We’ll take input at the hearing and incorporate that into a final draft, which will also be made available, and then it will be hopefully be approved by council at the April or May meeting.” She said the plan we have is good through 2013, leaving enough time for thorough public input.

Sharyn asked if P&R still wanted the hearing noticed for the March meeting and Emily said yes. Sometime later, Emily learned from Sharyn that she had not put in a notice for the Parks and Rec plan hearing because of a possible conflict with another hearing before the March meeting.

Jen suggested adding a PayPal button to the Solstice web page for donations. Linda asked if money was coming in for planks from the Parks and Rec PayPal button. Laura said some $90 had come in for planks but nothing for the Beach Road or the picnic tables. Jen said P&R had it on their agenda to discuss the payment issue with Sue, and that the chili cookoff fundraiser on February 16 made a total profit of $1,289.52. Jen thanked all the volunteers for that event.

Connie said a certain minor Elberta resident, whom she named, had to have his vehicle towed up the hill from the beach where he was off-roading. She said she and others have repeatedly seen said person driving 60 mph through town. “He’s going to cause an accident and he’s done a lot of damage to the beach.” Ken Bonney said he’d called the sheriff’s department about this person several times but no officer has ever come over.

Linda: “Does our commissioner have any comments on this, on our beach situation?”

Don Tanner: “Call the sheriff.”

[Several in unison]: “That hasn’t worked!”

Don: “I don’t have a plan B for you.”

Diane: “They could get a whole lot of money if they set someone on 22 and ticketed the speeders. They could have a boatload of money.”

Don: “Well, the library would.”

MARINA PARK/FARMERS MARKET Sue Oseland had applied for a grant for the Bridge card reader but hadn’t heard back. Subsequently, at the March Park and Rec meeting, Sue reported that the grant had come through and P&R chose a phone plan that did not require a contract. The first year of phone service is free through the grant; at the end of the first year they will see if it was worth it and perhaps renew. The Bridge card reader will make it easier for Bridge card users to shop the market. In addition, through the Double Up Food Bucks program, every Bridge dollar is worth two if spent at the farmers’ market Double Up Food Bucks program, every Bridge dollar is worth two if spent on Michigan grown fruits and vegetables, making it cheaper in some cases to buy produce at the market than at the grocery store.

ZONING ADMINISTRATOR Ken Bonney said Loy Putney had applied for a land use permit for apartments in the Bay Valley Inn building. Bonney said he’d denied the regular land use permit because he felt the project falls under special use. He said Mr. Putney has the necessary forms. Linda thanked Ken for his attendance at the planning commission meeting. It was helpful to have him there to answer questions.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT Reggie said he had spent two nights with the budget committee. He thanked the Solstice Committee for the successful fundraiser. He said there had been a dog ordinance violation for which a $150 fine was paid.

FIRE & SAFETY COMMITTEE Ken Holmes said the budget was overdue, that they had a tentative but not a final budget. Laura pointed out that the budget committee had had nothing to go on for the fire department.

MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS COMMITTEE (Ken Holmes and Joyce Gatrell) Holmes said, “They’re leaking!” He also mentioned concerns about mold. Reggie asked if the library should be discussed next month. Ken Holmes offered to get estimates for regular and steel roofs; Ross had submitted an estimate. Linda said Gilmore Township supervisor Carl Noffsinger said we should “just move with it.” Diane asked for a couple more estimates.

BUDGET ADOPTION  Linda said she was still concerned about the budget but there was nothing to be done. Ken Holmes moved to adopt the budget, totaling $532,662, as presented. Joyce seconded. The budget passed with one nay vote, from Jennifer Wilkins. The adopted budget for 2013–14 is available on the Alert website at http://wp.me/p1bgEv-pP.

AGENDA: PLANNING COMMISSION During the budget hearing Marcia Stobie, new planning commission chair, had distributed a budget request from the planning commission. The commission wants to hire Kurt Schindler, a land-use and zoning expert with MSU Extension, to vet the Village’s zoning ordinance, at a maximum cost of $1,500. Marcia said our zoning map needs to be updated, and proposed hiring NMCoG to do that work for $70/hr at an estimated 7 hours; NMCoG has the original map files. According to Sharyn, the PC’s request was later incorporated into the final version of the budget, sometime after the approved budget became available in the office. Linda said at the PC’s February 5 meeting two people on the commission were asked to come up with a definition of “apartment,” and they have submitted it to Marcia for her review; the definition will then come to council for approval. Marcia said, regarding hiring Kurt Schindler to do a critique of our zoning ordinance: “We feel we need some professional help and maybe he could steer us toward some grants.” She expected Kurt would visit the PC when she returns from a month’s absence. She distributed four copies of the proposed agreement with Schindler. She said we will also have to hold a hearing on our definition of apartments. She wasn’t sure about the noticing requirement. Sharyn suggested Marcia ask Schindler.

AGENDA: RECREATION PLAN Matt asked if the public hearing would be right before the meeting again, as the budget public hearing was. Sharyn said that was the traditional way.

AGENDA: MEETING DATES Council approved meeting dates for the third Thursday of every month in 2013–14. No discussion of basketball season changes.

PUBLIC COMMENT Don Tanner said the county is entering a 3-year contract with Grand Traverse County for veterans services. Chuck Lerchen (director of GT Veterans Affairs) thinks we’ll get a grant to cover those services. Don had been to a state mental health conference: “We are now in a regional entity model for mental health services. We are in the Northern Zone, with five community mental health centers. We are creating a new prepaid in-patient health care plan [PIHP] for the Medicaid fund.” Tanner will be one of three board members for the Northern Zone. This new PIHP will distribute funds to the five CMHs, taking the place of the 3 former PIHPs. The former PIHPs were found to be more interested in wielding power and money than in delivering care to developmentally and mentally disabled people, he said. Don spent the first day of the conference dealing strictly with Michigan’s new effort to improve services to veterans. Michigan is 53rd out of 50 states for veterans services (after the territories Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). Combat veteran Eric Lewis, of Copemish, who committed suicide in December, was a topic of discussion. Tanner had also been to Elk Rapids for the unveiling of some road projects. Benzie projects will mostly involve signage on 115; a guardrail has been installed where Claudia Eberly Maul de Andrade was killed in an automobile accident last November. More-aggressive road projects will begin next year.

Emily asked where the $150 for the dog ordinance infraction fine goes. Tanner said that if it’s a court levied fine it goes to the library—it’s unconstitutional for a law enforcement agency to benefit from a fine they levy. “It’s my understanding that the ticket was written against Bill Soper and Connie Manke when they were volunteering selling Christmas trees for Parks and Rec and that this occurred on a Saturday,” Emily said. Connie said she actually wasn’t there. Emily asked Ken Bonney, who issued the ticket, if he was on normal working hours at the time. Ken: “Nope, I got called in.” Emily asked if he had charged overtime. Ken said he does an hour every weekend day to check the water pumps anyway, so he counted it under that. Emily: “Speaking personally—I realize we have a dog ordinance, but I was volunteering at the tree sales too, and I know that the area they were in was enclosed with a snow fence. And my understanding was the dogs were off the leash within the fenced-in area, and also that it occurred on private property donated for the use of Xmas tree sales. It seems excessive to me that our DPW was called in on a Saturday to issue a ticket to someone who was volunteering for the village and had their dogs with them.”

Ken Holmes: “The fact that the dogs are running all the time doesn’t make any difference to you? There’s dog crap all over every street in town.”

Emily: “There are a lot of dogs in this town that crap on my lawn. That’s not what I’m talking about.”

Reggie: “We have an ordinance and we can’t pick and choose when to enforce it. That particular case was referred to me by a private citizen and I in turn went to Kenny. And in this instance it wasn’t the first time we’d had a complaint with those dogs. If you think it’s unfair we should change the ordinance. If it’s there, it’s my job to enforce it.”

Diane: “I feel that if it was on private property and was fenced in it was unfair.”

Reggie: “The dogs were on the street and on the sidewalk, not just in the enclosed area.”

Connie: “I’m glad our $150 went to the library. But it’s really disheartening to see the lack of respect one trustee gave to another tonight [meaning Ken Holmes’s comments to Jennifer Wilkins]. It was uncalled for. She was spoken down to. You’re all elected and you’re all on the same playing field.”

The meeting was adjourned. Ψ

* If someone cancels an LSS rental the Village keeps $100.

Adopted Village of Elberta budget: Village of Elberta Budget 2013-14

  1. Maybe have fundraiser for a computer with excel for Elberta’s accounting issues? Or, hire Commissioner Tanner as Emergency Manager of his hometown.

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