Salted with Sharks

Regular (and Special) Meeting of the Village Council August 2014

In Gov't Watch, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on August 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm


—DRAFT Minutes—

August 21, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

 The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held its regular meeting on Thursday, August 21, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by president pro tempore Robin Rommell at 7:04 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Joyce Gatrell, Ken Holmes, Diane Jenks, Jennifer Wilkins, Robin Rommell

Absent:           Reggie Manville

Public: Mary Kalbach, Ken Bonney, Loy Putney, Cathy Anderson, Lois Schram, Rosemary Tanner, Max Kessler, Art Melendez, Jeannie Sikes, Don Tanner, Emily Votruba, Ed Roy, Karl Sparks, Holly O’Dwyer, two other men.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to amend the agenda to go into special meeting. All ayes. Motion passed.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Wilkins, to go into closed session for special meeting to consider Putney settlement at 7:06 pm. Ayes: Wilkins, Jenks, Rommell, Holmes, Gatrell. Nays: None.

Clerk and Zoning Administrator attended special meeting; all others left meeting room.

Public invited back to meeting at 7:22 pm.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to approve settlement agreement with Loy Putney. Ayes: Holmes, Gatrell, Jenks, Wilkins, Rommell. Nays: None.

Rommell expressed opinion that it was time to “move on” from this issue. Jenks thanked everyone on council for hours and time for working this. Rommell introduced Ed Roy, the village attorney. Settlement agreement is available in the Village Office.

Regular meeting resumed at 7:27 pm.

Approval of Minutes:

  • Regular Meeting, July 17

Motion by Wilkins, seconded by Jenks, to accept minutes as presented. All ayes. Motion passed

Discussion: Rommell: Did not agree with allowing office staff to use their discretion in closing office during an emergency. Council confirmed that minutes were an accurate reflection of decision made at July meeting. Rommell: wanted clarification of automatically authorized “regular monthly expenses.” Discussion of whether credit card bills are “regular.”

Approval of Agenda:

Add item 8—Name signature authority to go to county for road vacation

Jenks: move committee reports to the end of the meeting after Old Business and Agenda.

Rommell: Suggest committee reports be submitted in writing to save time in meetings

Add item 9—Committee department heads to submit written reports for inclusion in packets

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to approve agenda with committee reports moved to end of meeting. All ayes. Motion passed.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to accept the agenda with these additions. All ayes. Motion passed.

Agenda Conflict: Wilkins said she would not be voting on Ag 1.

7:40 pm Public Input

Don Tanner asked that the County Commissioner report be part of the agenda, as it is in other municipalities, rather than a committee report.

Karl Sparks, Benzie County Administrator, announced two events for local governments: FOIA seminar, and the Benzie Summit.

7:45 pm Public Input Closed


No correspondence.

APPROVAL OF BILLS Council directed Clerk to call about two bills, City of TC and Waterfront Development Grant, for more info before authorizing payment. Attorney bills are to be paid at $2K per month. Rommell said a single payment of $8K would bring Village up to date with attorneys. Rommell asked about format for monthly financial report. Jenks said list of bills should be numbered and totaled with a summary.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to approve financial report as a work in progress. All ayes. Motion passed.


AGENDA 1: Bay Valley Inn Sign

Re: the Benzie Chamber of Commerce/Visitors’ Bureau’s concern about the Bay Valley Inn sign. The word “inn” in the sign at the front of the property was painted out but is still visible. Loy Putney agreed to further obscure the word “inn.” When done, clerk will follow up with Benzie Chamber of Commerce.

AGENDA 2: Grass and Trash Violations

Holmes has not yet prepared list of violators for DPW to talk to. K. Bonney to call Elberta Land Holding Company about tall grass and weeds on their property.

AGENDA 3: Dumping Yard Waste

Discussion of whether brush dump location needs to be posted as for residents only. Consensus was no.

AGENDA 4: Reports to Council by Committees/Department Heads

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to have reports by committees and department heads submitted in writing for inclusion in council packets, with discussion as needed. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 5: Moving Files from Pump House

Gatrell and Holmes have not yet begun going through files in the pump house.

AGENDA 6: Sale of Parcel on 168 adjacent Thompson and Sikes Properties

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, that parcel not be sold because cost of survey and transaction more than the property is worth. All ayes. Motion passed.


AGENDA 1: Appointment of Trustee to complete L. Manville’s Term

Letters of application to fill out L. Manville’s term received from both Cathy Anderson and Holly O’Dwyer, both after the posted deadline. Some discussion of merits of each candidate.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to appoint Anderson to the vacant council seat. Ayes: Gatrell, Holmes, Rommell. Nays: Jenks. Wilkins: conflict. Motion fails.

Anderson withdraws her name, so that council can move forward.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Wilkins, to appoint O’Dwyer. Ayes: Jenks, Wilkins. Nays: Holmes, Gatrell, Rommell. Motion fails.

AGENDA 2: Village Circle/Duck’s Head

Wilkins said Conundrum Café is violating ordinance no. 16 (signage) and that the café’s tables and rental bicycles are on village property, interfering with public use of the village circle. Café has signage posted saying their tables are for use by their customers only. K. Bonney (zoning administrator) will remove bushes in front of village circle and posting a Welcome to Elberta sign. Bonney has given copy of the sign ordinance to Conundrum Café’s owners. He will follow up with them about getting permits, removing the artwork from the village flower bed, and keeping the village circle barrier free.

AGENDA 3: Elberta Dunes South

Parks and Rec wants to be the official management contact for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation with regard to Elberta Dunes South Natural Area. (Agreement under consideration is available in the Village Office.) Rommell: Would funds earmarked for Dunes South would still be subject to council approval. Anderson: The money is in TC, it’s not with the Village. Holmes: Dunes needs to be separate so the money will only be spent there. Anderson: Created a budget amendment proposal to make Dunes South a separate department, to keep the money clear.

  1. The Parks and Recreation Commission respectfully requests the Village Council to confirm that Cathy Anderson should be the Authorized Contact from the Village of Elberta for the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation.
  1. The Parks and Recreation Commission has reviewed the proposed changes to the Management Agreement between the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and the Village of Elberta dated 8/14/14 and recommends that the Village Council approve those changes.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to adopt item 1. All ayes. Motion passed.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to adopt item 2. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 4: Burning Ordinance/Fire Pits

Holmes introduced an amendment to the burn ordinance (no. 17) to allow fire pits by paid permit (see below). Council will consider and decide at next meeting. Holmes will review the proposed ordinance change with the Frankfort fire chief.

AGENDA 5: Water Rate Study

            (a) Rate increase

            (b) Cost of living increase

Proposed Resolution Adopting Water Rates in Q3 of FY2014 (see below). Holmes introduced bids for water tank cleaning. Holmes: We are 3 or 4 years behind on tank inspections, a DEQ violation. Dixon’s bid for $3,600. Other bid was lower, but they would charge extra if work goes overtime, whereas Dixon won’t.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to contract with Dixon to clean water tanks. All ayes. Motion passed.

System is 80 years old. Life expectancy of pipes is usually 40 years. Rate to go up to $4.67 per 1K gallons. Consensus of council that water rate increase is necessary in order to make keep the water fund solvent and the water supply safe. Holmes: We have only about $3K in the water fund now. Jenks: Anybody have anything in your house built in 1935 that’s still working? If you use 2K to 3K gallons a month your bill will go up by $15. Discussion opened to the public. Rosemary Tanner: Will irrigation meters be charged a RTS rate separately? No, just usage.

Resolution was amended.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Jenks to adopt water rate increase resolution. All ayes. Motion passed.

Rommell read proposed Ordinance no. 27 (see below). Jenks asked how customers would be notified. Holmes suggested including letter with proposed ordinance. Ordinance is effective March 1, 2016. Anderson: Council has option to waive increase in any given year. A reminder of the imminent increase should go on February water bills each year.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to adopt Ordinance no. 27, specifying regular cost of living increases to water rates. Ayes: Rommell, Holmes, Jenks, Gatrell, Wilkins. Nays: None. Motion passed.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to have clerk mail water rate increase explanatory letter to all customers. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 6: Policy for Clerk/Treasurer work hours/office hours

Jenks introduced Policy no. 2014-0011. Text available in Village Office.

Motion by Wilkins, seconded by Holmes, to adopt Policy no. 2014-0011. Ayes: Wilkins, Jenks, Rommell, Holmes, Gatrell. Nays: None. Motion passed.

AGENDA 7: Conflict of Interest Policy and Code of Ethics Disclosure Form

Draft was provided in March. Jenks asked council members to review it. Jenks: Need dollar amt for penalty for ethics violation. Not more than $500 per atty recommendation. Jenks not comfortable assessing fine, would like to refer violations to the court system. Anyone operating for the village, including volunteers, are subject to the policy. Policy and Procedures Committee will take suggestions and revise policy.

AGENDA 8: Vacating Part of Acre Street

Motion by Wilkins, seconded by Jenks, to authorize Robin Rommell to go to the courthouse and change the tax records pursuant to vacating the far west portion, 145 feet, of Acre Street, so it can transfer to Mr. Becker (south half) and Ms. Wood (north half). All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 9: Commissioner Tanner

Benzie Summit on October 17 will include a presentation on the Benzie County Economic Development Plan. Tanner is, by statute, the default emergency manager for county. He attended an emergency response training day in Gaylord, which included an active shooter with hostages exercise (no one from our Sheriff Department or schools attended). Much work to be done to prepare for various emergency situations. Combined updating of county master plan and the county parks and recreation plan will be done by Sarah Lucas of NWMCoG, saving about half the cost. Proposed statewide water trail. Meetings being held to determine good access sites. County adopted its budget and is working on fee schedule for court costs. Tax rates are flat since last year. State may bid out Medicaid services in October 2015. Tanner wants our CMH to be in the running as a contractor. Mental health services will be integrated with overall health services.

10:07 pm Public Input

Rosemary Tanner: Suggest that block on Pearson between Washington and Frankfort Avenue be made one way (east to west) for safety reasons.

Robin Rommell: Employee Relations Committee will meet the 2nd Monday of September at 9 am because of Labor Day.

Public Input Closed

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Rommell, to adjourn the meeting, at 10:09 pm. All ayes. Meeting adjourned.

Emily Votruba and Cathy Anderson compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village clerk Mary Kalbach.


Resolution Regarding Parks and Recreation Commission as Contact for Management of Elberta Dunes South Natural Area

Proposed Changes to Village Burn Ordinance No. 17

Fire Pit Resolution and Form

Water Rate Letter to Customers with Example

Water Rate Increase Resolution and Cost of Living Increase Ordinance


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