Salted with Sharks

Solstice Approved: May Council Meeting

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Elberta Solstice Festival, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on May 31, 2015 at 7:14 pm


—DRAFT Minutes—

May 21, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Joyce Gatrell, Ken Holmes, Diane Jenks, Holly O’Dwyer, Bill Soper

Absent:           vacant seat, Jean Sikes

Public: Gary Sauer (county commissioner), Ken Bonney (DPW), Rosemary Tanner, Frederik Stig-Nielsen, Joshua Herren, Kurt Luedtke, Emily Votruba

Approval of Minutes

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve the April 16 meeting minutes as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to approve the agenda with the following additions: No. 7: dates for Elberta School Reunion and Methodist outdoor church service; no. 8 New Planning Commission member Patrick McConnell; no. 9 Signature for safety deposit box

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts


Public Input 7:04 pm



  • Letter from auditors’ attorney stating there is no pending litigation
  • Consumers Energy will be surveying existing street lights
  • Correspondence from DNR regarding management grant


Council reviewed revenues and expenses. Nonroutine bills were included with budget. No discussion

Items of note: None

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve payment of bills. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Old Business

  • Council reduction to 5 trustees: The 45-day ordinance posting period ends May 30. Notice was in the paper. No petitions have been filed.
  • Fire ordinance and permits: Proposed fire pit permits at post office and at Village Office. Residents required to get a permit for any outdoor burning. Need signature of DPW (Ken Bonney) and fire chief (Charlie Thompson) on permit. No construction material and no leaves. Council further discussed wording of permit. Suggested that copy of ordinance no. 17 (burn ordinance, est. 2002) be included with permit. Council discussed ordinance for outdoor boilers. A public hearing will be held on that topic before the June meeting. O’Dwyer to write proposed outdoor boiler ordinance using existing state suggested language and other resources.
  • Late water bills: Have done well collecting on late water bills, in some cases tacking late amounts on taxes.

AGENDA 1: DPW Wages and Benefits

Gatrell read the written recommendation of the Employee Relations Committee, of which she is a member. Village will restore Ken Bonney’s former benefits package, raising the monthly premium it pays on his health insurance from $300 to $350, and contributing $1,000/yr toward a retirement fund. Council discussed whether vacation days could be carried over. Decided upon a “use or pay out” policy for vacation and sick days. Bonney has worked for the Village since 2009. He gets 2 weeks paid vacation and 3 days for bereavement. But he can’t take entire days off: has to check the water 7 mornings a week. He makes $18/hr. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are overtime (time and a half). Bonney is on call 24/hrs a day and is not paid for that. If he did not check the water every day and something went wrong, he could go to jail; the Village would get a fine. This decision would restore the holidays and benefits he was promised when he was hired. O’Dwyer expressed concern over the Village’s financial ability to restore these benefits: “I wouldn’t want to have to take it away again.” Gatrell: “Cathy Anderson says we can afford it.” Backup water operator (Frankfort based) doesn’t charge the village unless he has to come in, at which point it’s $60/day (just water, not sewer). He charges $350/mo to file paperwork. KB: Most municipalities have two employees with water licenses. You have to work full time for a year before you can apply for a water license. Holmes estimates it will cost $10K a year to restore Bonney’s benefits/holidays. O’Dwyer tried to check MML to compare other DPW wages but because the Village hasn’t completed a survey for MML she was not able to access the database. Village will complete the survey and have access in the future. Soper: In favor of getting Ken back to where he started.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to restore Ken Bonney’s benefit package with time and a half and holiday pay with adjustments as discussed: President’s Day, Thanksgiving Friday, Christmas Eve Day, New Year’s Eve Day, and a half day on Good Friday.

Gatrell, Holmes, Soper, and Jenks aye. O’Dwyer nay. Motion carried.

AGENDA 2: Sewer Maintenance and Water Billing Software

The water billing software keeps crashing. Regular updates were not performed. Now the system is so out of date, it needs a $6800 upgrade. Recent sewer line repairs also exceeded the budget. Bonney noted that Bob Kirby did not charge the Village for his machine that broke during the repair.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to amend (increase) the sewer budget by $4K and amend (increase) the water budget by $6456 for repairs and maintenance.

4 ayes. 1 nay. Motion passed.

AGENDA 3: 2015 Village Parks Mowing Contract

All bidders are insured. Jenks asked for Ken Bonney’s recommendation. He said the only outfit he wasn’t familiar with was Mitchell. Costs the Village $860 per time to mow the parks with labor paybacks, paying seasonal help minimum wage—takes 28-29 hours. The mower is 7 years old and had just broken the morning of the meeting (blades had dropped out due to wear). When Village hired Walkley to do just the Waterfront Park it cost $600/mo. Ken and seasonal

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell, to contract with Hofmannsthal [?] to mow Village Parks.

Gatrell, Holmes, Jenks ayes. O’Dwyer and Soper nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 4: Parks and Recreation Budget Amendment

Amendments to move Solstice Fundraiser category to the regular Parks and Rec fundraiser. Diane read the proposed motion. $5,000 from former Solstice budget would be moved to a category for ELSS and Waterfront Park improvements under Dept 753

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve Parks & Recreation budget amendment.

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Property Foreclosure

Brief discussion of whether to make claim for foreclosed property. Property would have to be for public use, could not be sold.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to decline purchase of property on Crapo Street up for tax sale. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 6: Solstice Festival Foundation Contract

Contract was prepared at no charge by Frederik Stig-Nielsen, one of the members of Elberta Solstice Foundation, who is an attorney. Rental fee is $2,000, plus $200 cleaning fee and $500 deposit. ESF will take care of trash/recycling disposal not using village dumpster, and intend to contract with Williams for porta-john service.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Gatrell to sign contract with Elberta Solstice Foundation to run the 2015 Elberta Solstice Festival.

Gatrell, O’Dwyer, Holmes, Jenks ayes. No nays. Soper recused. Motion carried.

AGENDA 7: New Planning Commission Member

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve Patrick McConnell for membership in the Planning Commission. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 8: New Planning Commission Member

The Elberta School Reunion Committee wishes to use Penfold Park Saturday August 15 for the School Reunion from 11 am to 2 pm. Elberta United Methodist Church wants to use Penfold Park for its outdoor service on Sunday July 19 from 10 am to noon. Has been holding an outdoor service there since 1984.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to allow EUMC and Elberta School Reunion to use Penfold Park rent free on those days/times. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 9: Safety Deposit Signatory

Need 2 new signatures. Mary Kalbach plus one.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to make Diane Jenks a signatory on the safety deposit box. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Committee/Department Reports (unless otherwise noted, Committees submitted written reports)

County Commissioner’s Report (Gary Sauer): FOIA workshop will be held at the county government center June 4 at 4 pm to educate public on changes that will take effect July 1. Handed out a flier about Memorial Day observances.

President’s Report: Jenks tells Kurt Luedtke to stop by the office and Mary Kalbach will cut him a check for the ferry dock removal. Dock removal is being paid for through the Brownfield Redevelopment grant with the Village acting as a pass through.

DPW: Ken has new assistant: Santana Keillor. Well-head protection needs to be updated, due June 15. Both Fleis & Vandenbrink and Gourdie Fraser would write grant if given the contract. F&V overcharged the Village by $5K for work on Waterfront Park. 3 residences had water shut off due to nonpayment. Kidder fixed alternator switch on wells. KB got rid of docks removed and piled in Penfold Marina Park. Dumpster at LSS needs a cover. Fixed “no dogs allowed” signs that had been vandalized. KB issued 8 warnings to dog owners. Lots of complaints about dogs at large. Discussion of what fine is for loose dog or dog in park. No one knows. O’Dwyer mentioned a fine of $50 levied against one resident


Fire & Safety:

Parks & Rec Commission:

Employee Relations:

Budget, Finance & Audit:

Policies, Procedures & Internal Controls:

Public Input 8:25 p.m.

Joshua Herren: Thanked council for allowing ESF to keep the festival going. “We won’t let you down.”

Frederik Stig-Nielsen: Any revenue from Solstice fest will go to a good cause, per their mission statement, to preserve historic or natural objects. Hoping for a long partnership with Village. Thanked council for allowing rental at a slightly reduced rate.

Rosemary Tanner: Solstice quilt (made from former years’ Solstice t-shirts) is complete. Suggested beginning to sell raffle tickets soon and over a period of months to maximize revenue.

Emily Votruba: Thanked Rosemary for beautiful job on quilt. Will be collecting signatures on a petition to put a measure on the November 2016 ballot to ban fracking.


Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting at 8:28 p.m. All ayes. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village acting clerk Mary Kalbach 5/28/15.

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