Salted with Sharks

Regular Meeting of the Village Council October 2014

In Gov't Watch, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on October 27, 2014 at 11:05 pm


DRAFT Minutes

October 16, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held its regular meeting on Thursday, October 16, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by president pro tempore Robin Rommell at approximately 7:00 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           Reggie Manville

Public: Mary Kalbach, Ken Bonney, Cathy Anderson, Rosemary Tanner, Andrew Bolander, Art Melendez, Don Tanner, Emily Votruba, Chad Hollenbeck, Theresa Gilbert

Approval of Minutes:

  • Regular Meeting, August 21

The minutes from the August 28 Special Meeting had not yet been distributed to council. The minutes from the August 21 special meeting portion of the regular meeting were not yet finished.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Jenks, to accept minutes with a correction on page 3, to reflect Rommell’s yes vote on the appointment of Holly O’Dwyer to fill Linda Manville’s vacated position. All ayes. Motion passed.

Approval of Agenda: The agenda was not available (copies had been left on the copy machine). Jenks asked to add “Library Sale” and “Violations of Ordinances” to the agenda.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to approve these additions to the agenda. All ayes. Motion passed.

Agenda Conflict: None stated.

Public Input: None.


Resignation letter from trustee Jennifer Wilkins, from council, Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Solstice Committee. Resignation letter from Sheila Applebee as village treasurer. Council did not know Applebee was having transportation trouble until they received her resignation letter. Resignation letter from Mary Kalbach as village clerk, and application to be village treasurer instead. Bill Settles would like to set up community garden at Elberta Dunes South Natural Area (EDNA) meadow. Council suggests Parks & Rec discuss it with him, come up with a plan and then bring it back to council. Council also received letters regarding ordinance violations.


Council did not have a complete report of payments to look at. Kalbach listed some of the payments recently made. Auditors charged Village over $11K. Kalbach said we had already paid $5630 and they want an additional $5665. Largest bill in previous years was only about $5K (same auditors). Rommell: “All we got was an invoice that had a figure on it. There was no breakdown or explanation.” Council said audit took longer because a lot of the material was hard to find in the wake of the departure of the former clerk and treasurer—information used to be more ready to hand. An additional charge of $11,484 came from Roxanne Nicholas of the State of Michigan for her internal controls audit performed last year. A $53 tax software support charge was explained. The software is owned by Gilmore Twp. $3677 for fire/safety second quarter.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Rommell, to hold off on paying the auditors until clarification on price increase received. All ayes. Motion passed.

Other bills will be paid. Rommell explained that $1670 payment to Ottwell Mawby is a pass through for Brownfield Grant. Have a one year extension on grant to pull out the Car Ferry Apron docks. Rommell in touch with Chris Panopolis about when Aprons will be removed. Once Brownfield grant expires, Village will only have to have audit every two years. The Brownfield grant requires an audit every year.

AGENDA 1: Benzie Bus

Chad Hollenbeck discussed ridership and new schedule. BB is seven years old. Average is 300 rides per day. Average 18 riders on morning route to TC. BB is changing routes for great efficiency. Can still call a day ahead for door to door service. Summer fun shuttle service ($1, arranged through phone call to driver) was less popular than anticipated. Brought our Elberta bus stop sign. Council should consider where to put stop. New schedule brochures. BB is one of the top 6 fleets in the nation in terms of propane use, a cleaner, more efficient fuel than gasoline. Bus runs: Mon–Fri 5 am to 8 pm. Saturday reinstated: 7 am to 5 pm. Handed out BB tote bags.

AGENDA 2: Resignation of Trustee Jennifer Wilkins

Wilkins resigned from trustee board, Parks and Recreation Commission, and Solstice Committee for “person reasons” effective September 18. Wilkins’s letters to Council and Parks and Rec are available in the Village Office. Jenks read a letter Jenks had written regarding Wilkins’s service (see attached). In the letter Jenks apologizes for the disrespectful treatment Jen has occasionally received from certain (unnamed) council members.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes to accept Wilkins’s resignation and that a letter of appreciation be sent to Wilkins. Aye: Gatrell, Holmes, Rommell. Nay: Jenks. Motion failed.

No applications received by volunteers to fill out Wilkins’s term.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to accept Sheila Applebee’s resignation as village treasurer. All ayes. Motion passed.

Employee relations committee (Jenks, Gatrell, Rommell) recommends making treasurer position salaried rather than hourly. Kalbach would become treasurer and deputy clerk. The deputy clerk position pays an additional $1 per hour. Total $10,192.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to appoint Kalbach to that position at that salary. All ayes. Motion passed.

Rommell introduces new Village clerk Dick Jenkins. ERC met with Jenkins previous week. Had five applications. Jenkins has government experience and accompanying skills, including website maintenance and grant writing, computer skills, enjoys doing Excel spreadsheets. Jenkins: Was administrator for the Manistee Conservation District. Handled payroll, audits. Regulations very similar to Village General Law. Also served on Frankfort City Council. Rommell: Jenkins will also be deputy treasurer. Open office hours continue to be Wednesday 1 to 5 and Thursday Jenkins will be there 9 to 1. Kalbach is still a notary, so she can swear in Jenkins. Kalbach will have to go to Kim Kidder for swearing in.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to appoint Richard Jenkins to the position of Village Clerk/Deputy Treasurer at salary of $12,896 ($12,064 annual salary, plus $832 for deputy treasurer). All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 3: Planning Commission

No volunteer applications received for Planning Commission vacancy. Jenks volunteers to sit for a while on Commission so they can have a quorum. Bonney says Jen Whiting may be interested but wanted to wait until Mayfair’s additions are approved to avoid conflict of interest. Commission has been unable to meet, only have two people, need three for a quorum.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to appoint Diane Jenks to the Planning Commission temporarily. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 4: Approval of the Amended Budget

Rommell: Thanks several people for six months of hard work on budget to make it more user friendly and comprehensible: Joyce Gatrell, Linda Manville, Rommell. Manville came up with a list of questions. The new budget format answers most of those. For example, there used to be an item “Specific Projects” allotted $15K, and they had no idea what it was. Turns out it was fire and EMS contract with the City of Frankfort. Terry McGregor a huge help, understands fund balance. Cathy Anderson has spent three months completely reconciling and rationalizing the Parks&Rec budget. Kalbach has also put in extra time. Cover sheet with the only true amendments, changes to the budget. (This document available in Village Office.) With abrupt departure of Clerk and Treasurer, Rommell and others had to figure out how to pay/log DPW wage and $300 monthly benefit, for example, and had to learn how to use the complicated fund balance software; 41 pages of adjustments show and correct where charges were incorrectly assigned. Holmes: Rommell has done a tremendous amount of work. Jenks: question about negative balance in paybacks. Rommell: Rentals to date are $28,950. LSS refund is overbudget. We gave back more refunds than we thought. People who booked and then canceled. New contract: $500 deposit is now over and above rental fee. Rommell: Equipment paybacks in Major and Local Streets are double the budget. Attorneys fees incurred last year got charged off to last year.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell to accept proposed amendments to 2015 budget. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 5: State Grant Applications

Rommell: State of Mich. has set aside $8mill in grants to help struggling communities. Jenks, Anderson, Holmes working on a proposal. Anderson: Lots of competition. State started awarding grants October 1 but because there was no September council mtg we are behind. We have a proposal for computer software upgrades and road improvements up to our water tower, which was a DEQ requirement (we were cited for inadequate access). We will assemble the proposal and transmit to Robin for her signature.

Jenks: Wants a new, historically accurate stairway for LSS, to make upstairs accessible. Will try to piggyback onto state grant. Holmes: LSS should have an elevator. Upstairs could be offices. Anderson: Need volunteers for in kind match.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Gatrell, to sign grant proposals created by Anderson or anyone by end of October.

AGENDA 6: Proposed Budget Amendments related to Elberta Dunes South Natural Area

Grant awarders want report on finances of EDNA. Files were out of order. Anderson figured it out. Need to be able to track where annual endowment disbursement is going, among other things. Anderson proposes creating a separate fund item, “Dept 756” for EDNA, to show revenues from endowment, rentals, expenditures showing wages (for maintenance), equipment, etc. Endowment money is a $5k grant from the Oleson Foundation. Checks were sent to the Village in 2011, ’12, and ’13 (between $900 and $1k each year). But we can’t find the $5k or the three years of grants. Starting in 2015 should be getting $4k per year. We didn’t get the money for 2014 because they never heard from us and were wondering what was going on.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to create a separate Dept, 756, for Elberta Dunes South Natural Area under the Parks fund.

AGENDA 7: Parks & Rec

Rommell: Solstice did not lose money this year—$10k was misallotted. Anderson straightened it out. P&R will appoint a new liaison (replacing Wilkins) next month after election. Need a new P&R check signatory. Anderson: Article 11 Bylaws state either president or secretary of P&R shall cosign with Village president or village clerk. Votruba is new secretary of P&R. Signatories will be worked out at November council meeting. Joyce will sign for Xmas trees in meantime. Andrew Bolander has applied for membership in P&R. Bolander: Moved here in June. Volunteer at BACN and the history museum. Was a bouncer at Solstice.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes to approve Bolander as new P&R member. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 8: County Commissioner’s Report

Don Tanner: Fajita fundraiser for Special Olympics a success, raised $4,400, doubling earnings from last year. County needs a new health officer/medical examiner, seeks to partner with Leelanau for a joint office and examiner. Dr. Houghton was med. examiner, has been hard to replace since he passed away. County is putting a clinic in the county building, via a grant, for local integrative health care. Local CMH recognized Darwin Booher for passing PA 266. Needed changes in the law because of federal requirements that contradicted state law. Booher said: award should have gone to Don Tanner and Chip Johnston, who did the lion’s share of the work preparing the bill. State Director of Mental Health said a few years from now people will understand the importance of this effort. Master Plan: county wants to work with local units. County is combining its master plan and recreation plan process, working with Sarah Lucas, to save money. Benzie will have the first local plan tied in to a regional growth plan and economic development. County has appointed Bill Kennis, director of the Benzie Bus, to a regional prosperity board.

AGENDA 9 Sale of Library

Site assessment will be done tomorrow (October 17). Jenks: Suggests raising price to $65K to better cover costs of survey and appraisal. Whoever buys will have to bring it up to code. Holmes: What about the school bell tower? Suggestion to move it to Veterans Park, near old school grounds. Someone has been removing the for sale sign in the window from inside the building. Jenks: Don’t think we should “save it” for the township; don’t know if they’ll get the grant they’re seeking to buy it. Also, sale to Twp would not create tax revenue. Votruba: Twp sale is safe; our zoning map is not finished and our zoning ordinance needs work; need to avoid lawsuits. Jenks: Request for proposals? Anderson: Twp shld pay for first right of refusal. Tanner: Twp seems serious; it’s been discussed at every one of their meetings; suggests reaching out to them. Cty can advise on proposal request process. Rommell: Every child in our school paid 10 cents for a brick. Breaks my heart that bld might not belong to the public in some manner. Holmes: People rejected a millage for upkeep. Rommell will write a letter to Twp.

AGENDA 10: Ordinance Violations

Letter from L. Manville regarding 753 Lincoln fence violation. Finished side faces the owner. Height is incorrect: “We cannot afford random ordinance violations that could subject us to litigation.” Another fence violation across from Rommell; ongoing problem of loose dogs. People burning garbage, grass not cut, trash in yards. Holmes: Garage opened for car repair. Had a permit for small engine repair. New business does not have a permit. Member of public: Fence is at his parents’ place; looks better than other fences around town; some people are in compliance and others aren’t. Holmes: Disapproves of one particular fence in town and always has. Jenks: Suggests Holmes takes on enforcement since DPW is overburdened as is. Tanner: You want compliance, not punishment. Work with community members; you should be getting revenue for municipal civil infractions. Jenks: Suggests a “nice yard” award. Council will revisit issue at November meeting.

AGENDA 11: Revised Deficit Elimination Plan

Now that budget amendments have been approved, Chris Olson can revise DEP. Special meeting week of the 30th to pass resolution approving revised DEP. Draft of audit is ready. For some reason auditor wants copy of the DEP as approved by the state. DEP has not yet been approved. Kalbach: Spoke with state, they don’t understand why he needs that. Rommell: Auditor had several recommendations that were policies that we’ve already adopted. Jenks: He needs to get off the clock.

9:35 pm Public Input

Andy Bolander: Need to improve the visibility of government actions. Ordinances should be available to everyone on the website.

Don Tanner: County looking for appointees to county master plan process. Maybe put it on your agenda for next month, appoint a person and an alternate.

Rommell: Tonight is the last regular meeting of this council. Once results are certified, new council members will be sworn in before the November 20 regular meeting.

Jenks: Thanks Rommell for all her extra time and hard work.

Rommell: Water bills show old office hours. New stock has been ordered with new hours.

Rosemary Tanner: Village meetings need to be posted in the post office.

Rommell: Someone must have taken it down. We’ll repost it.

Public Input Closed

Motion by Rommell, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting, at 9:45 pm. All ayes. Meeting adjourned.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village clerk Richard Jenkins.

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