Salted with Sharks

Burn After Reading: June 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 July 12, 2015 at 6:59 am


June 18, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7:02 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:          none

Public: Gary Sauer (county commissioner), Ken Bonney (DPW), Rosemary Tanner, Lois Schram, Cathy Anderson, Emily Votruba, Dolores Schmitt, Art Melendez, Christine Walkons, Mac McClelland

Approval of Minutes

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to approve the May 21 meeting minutes with the following changes: Under Correspondence, p. 1, letter was from Village attorney, not auditor’s attorney; p. 2 line 10, add “bills still in arrears by June 1”; p. 3, line 3, add “worker” to “Ken and seasonal”; p. 3, line 5 name is “Hospenthal.” 

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve the agenda with the following changes: Make No. 5 Change Order; add No. 7, Designate Penfold Park as Water Trail Access Point; add No. 8, Code Enforcement Officer 

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated.

Public Input 7:11 pm



  • DEQ water quality report for the Village
  • Email from Bill Schuette re: FOIA request re: Library testing results. He had no info. Jenks is still looking into it
  • Postcard from a Realtor who wants to market the Library


Council reviewed revenue and expenses. Nonroutine bills were included with budget. Jenks once again praised volunteer Cathy Anderson’s efforts on the treasurer’s report and budget, coding bills in the general ledger, etc. Thanks also to Village treasurer/deputy clerk Mary Kalbach. The report is available in the Village Office.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Gatrell, to accept the treasurer’s report as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

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: As of May 30, the Village has a five member council: 4 trustees and a president. No petitions were filed during the comment period.
  • Fire ordinance and permits: Fire pit permits are available at the Village Office. Residents required to get a signed permit for compliant outdoor burning. Can be signed by Charlie Thompson (231-651-0045), Ray Miehlke (231-631-4775) or Mark Ketz (231-383-1354). Don’t call Ken Bonney, call one of those fire officials. Complaints should also be addressed to them.

AGENDA 1: Budget Amendment

(a) Resolution reorganizing Village Park Fund accounts associated with the Life Saving Station, Waterfront Park, and Penfold Park into General Fund 101. The Village parks and general fund have always been paid from the same bank account, and reported thus on audits and financial statements so there is no effective change. Fund 208 would remain but would be exclusively for Parks & Recreation Commission revenues and expenses. This amendment is as per recommendation of the Village auditor and endorsed by the Parks & Recreation Commission financial secretary. Upon approval of the Seton bill for signs, establish a sign account within the Village Park expense account Department 751 and set a budget of $650 for the account. Upon approval of the Ganbridge and Co. POC bill for auditing services, increase the budget for auditing services 1985080600 [101?] by $2,500.

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to adopt the proposed budget amendments 1, 2, and 3. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

(b) Proposed resolution to create a sewer fund reserve. The Village of Elberta maintains State Savings Bank account no. 3572 with a dollar amount in excess of $54K. It’s been understood by the Village Office and Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee that this money was designated as a sewer fund reserve against the existing USDA loan for the sewer system. During the recent audit it was noted that prior audits had shown the account to be part of the major and local street fund. The origin of the money in the above bank account is unclear and it is believed that the purpose of the money was misstated during past audits. The resolution will clarify the Village’s position with respect to the money going forward by designating the money in the State Savings Bank account no. 3572 as “Sewer Reserve.” This is important as the Village is required to maintain a reserve account against the sewer loans to address emergent issues with the sewer system. The sewer fund bank accounts are insufficient to fulfill that purpose. The major and local street bank account has sufficient balance to support all planned and many emergent issues in streets and does not need the money maintained in 3572. Furthermore it has been a source of confusion for the Budget Finance and Audit members and others when reviewing the Village’s fund systems why and how streets fund has such disproportionately high cash balances. This resolution is recommended by the Village auditor and supported by the Budget Finance and Audit Committee. The resolution supports the Village’s compliance with the Michigan Budget Act, proper accounting procedure and USDA loan requirements. Note that the USDA loans for the sewer infrastructure are Village of Elberta debt and are separate and distinct from BLUA wastewater treatment plant money. Resolution: Whereas the Village of Elberta recognizes that it is in  noncompliance with the terms of USDA sewer loans and desires to conform to the terms of the loan, therefore, be it resolved that the Village of Elberta designates the money held in State Savings Bank account no. 3572 as sewer reserve.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to adopt the resolution regarding the sewer fund reserve. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 2: Fire Ordinance Outdoor Burning Stoves

O’Dwyer composed proposed ordinance using language from State of Michigan sample ordinance guidelines. Outdoor boilers tend to put out significantly more harmful particulate matter/pollution than indoor woodstoves and there have been many complaints about the one existing such unit in the Village, which had recently been removed. The proposed amendment would regulate any such stoves installed before the amendment’s passage and ban installation of any new outdoor wood fired boilers stoves. In researching the issue O’Dwyer discovered that the county does not regulate or handle complaints about these appliances, nor does the EPA, and regulation must occur by local ordinance. In the course of discussion at the meeting it was discovered that since this is an amendment to an existing ordinance (no. 17), the proposed new language needed to be worked into the existing ordinance (numbers adjusted, etc.), and no one had the existing ordinance with them. Some discussion of materials to be considered permissable for burning, what constitutes “processed” wood vs. lumber, which the DNR does not permit to be burned. According to Ken Bonney, state law forbids the burning of even untreated boards—anything that’s gone through a sawmill. Jenks said they had neglected to publicize the hearing at this meeting. Holmes’s opinion was that amendments to existing ordinances didn’t require a public hearing. A hearing on the proposed ordinance amendment will be held ahead of the July meeting.

AGENDA 3: Dolores Schmitt Petition to Add “First Settlers” Names to Village Limits Signs

Schmitt had a petition signed by many community members including some members of council, requesting that MDOT have signs under the Village limits signs, “First Settlers 1855 John and Caroline Greenwood” and she would like it approved ASAP. Jenks asked if there was proof that they were the first settlers. Holmes said they were in Blacklock’s History of Elberta. Jenks asked if their mention in Blacklock made it legal. Holmes mentioned some other families from around the same time, including the Martins. Holmes said the Greenwoods were the first settlers and John Greenwood was the first postmaster. O’Dwyer pointed out that Blacklock lists 1851 in three places as the Greenwoods’ arrival time. Schmitt said it should be 1855. She said MDOT would give a price and then “we would make a decision.” Jenks asked who would pay for the sign. Schmitt said she would handle fundraising. Schmitt said MDOT told her to OK it with the Village council and send the motion of approval back to MDOT. O’Dwyer asked if there were any other books claiming the Greenwoods as the first settlers in Elberta. Holmes said John Howard’s history. Schmitt said there “isn’t any doubt.” Holmes referred to Greenwood Landing (a former name of “Short” Grace Road). Holmes mentioned the plaque in the cemetery citing Joseph Oliver as Benzie County’s first settler, 1847. Jenks asked for Schmitt’s source for the 1855. Schmitt said she went to the courthouse and they don’t have any information on it. She said the 1855 date seemed to be true based on “other things that were going on.” Schmitt said she had been to a Benzie Area Genealogical Society meeting. Jenks said she would be comfortable approving the sign if “between now and then” there was confirmation of the date. Schmitt’s husband said the 1851 date may refer to their Nova Scotia landing. Schmitt said 1851 was OK with her. Jenks said she would get Schmitt a copy of the motion Wednesday after 1 pm.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell, to support the sign John and Caroline Greenwood First Settlers in 1851. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Schmitt went on to say that M-168, now decommissioned by the State and reverted to Village ownership, should be renamed Greenwood Parkway. Jenks said the Village would probably have a contest to rename the road. Schmitt cited a past meeting of the Village council during which it was decided by contest that the Village, when it changed its name from South Frankfort, would be called Elberta, after the peach grown here. Someone else had suggested Greenwood Village, and she felt that should have been the name chosen. Jenks thanked Schmitt for all her work on the matter.

Note on Auditor Fee

Jenks said the auditor fee had been more than double the usual cost and thanked Mary Kalbach for her efforts to argue for a reduction in the fee by half to $2,750. This bill has been paid.

AGENDA 4: Frankfort–Elberta Athletic Association

O’Dwyer said FEAA maintains the Frankfort field and the Elberta field; Frankfort’s Lockhart Field is much bigger and more active. Asked what Frankfort pays FEAA. Discussion of how much Elberta pays to maintain the ball field, mowing, etc. The FEAA membership fee is $500 per year. FEAA maintains the actual diamond. FEAA had called the Village office asking for the restroom to be cleaned more regularly and for more paper towels. Jenks said because the Community Building is being used for meetings and is rented out, it should not be open to the public. There had been some damage to the restroom (broken sink, inordinate mess etc.), lights and heat had been left on. The keys had been taken away but someone had apparently given FEAA keys again. Discussion of changing locks. The $500 had regularly been paid in the past but was not budgeted. Money would come out of deficit reduction. Requires a budget amendment, which must be an agenda item. Issue tabled.

AGENDA 5: Change Order for Grant for Apron Dock Removal

Mac McClelland explained that $735K grant the Village received for the Waterfront project. Initial demoltion of  Koch plant and Mitchell building and portions of the roundhouse cost $476K. About $259K was left over. Original contract with Luedtke to remove ferry docks was $188K. New costs bring it up to $230K, leaving a balance of about $29K. Grant ends June 30. New costs: Superstructure underneath both aprons, strapped together pilings. Requires investigation by divers over two days and additional time by Luedtke. State has approved the change order. Item two: discovery of underground scale house vault with fulcrum arm reinforced with railroad ties for weighing rail cars. Removal of that also approved by the State. Holmes mentioned that someone has the original scale in their garage.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to approve change order for car ferry dock demolition. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Designate Penfold Park as Waterways Trailhead Access Point

Resolution: Whereas the existing boat launch in Elberta’s Penfold Park provides access to Betsie Lake and Betsie River and Lake Michigan, and whereas the Village of Elberta recognizes the recreational and economic value of designated water trails, be it resolved that the Village of Elberta designated the boat launch an Penfold Park aka Mini Pond a Trailhead and Access Site for the Lake Michigan Water Trail and future Betsie River water trail.

Discussion: Does not exclude motorized boats. Opens grant opportunities and puts Elberta on a water trail map.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to designate Elberta a Water Trail access site. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 6: Code Enforcement Officer

Jenks concerned about lack of enforcement of cleanup ordinances. Proposes hiring/creating said officer, someone not from the Village. Many communities have them. Ken Bonney doesn’t have time. Perhaps a retired police officer. Six foot pile of wood on Lincoln, sawdust, and crooked signs. Council members asked to research possible candidates.

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

County Commissioner’s Report (Gary Sauer): Thompsonville just hired a code enforcement officer. Searching for a county administrator. Karl Sparks is retiring. Maples roof code compliance/conflict situation. Architect needs to be held accountable. Losing a lot of money. Conflicting state and federal codes. Workshop on changes to FOIA request procedure will be held at Government Center.

DPW: Water reports available at Village Office and in post office. Had met with Scott Conradson and Cathy Anderson to discuss water infrastructure. A resident who had their water shut off due to non payment of bills had turned their water back on. Sheriff was called and meter was pulled. Some people including kids trespassing in Roundhouse inside fence. Structure is not stable and no one should trespass beyond fence. Gatrell asked whether ELHC’s plans to develop shops in that area would come to fruition.

BLUA: Holmes said savings on interest amounts to about $7,000. Rates will not be lowered. We will pay the debt off sooner. Anderson asked if BLUA’s council decided to keep payments the same. She said audit can’t close until there’s paper documentation as to why we’re still getting charged for the old bond and not for the new bond. Holmes added that increased revenue will result in a check for the Village from BLUA.

Parks & Recreation: Soper reminds everyone about Solstice. Emily Votruba asks that Andy Bolander’s request to join Parks & Recreation on the July agenda.

Employee Relations: Didn’t have a meeting.

President’s Report: Planning Commission working on capitalization improvement plan and the zoning ordinance. Permits and licenses for Solstice are in place and have a crew of volunteers. Would like to have a sitdown with Sheriff Schendel about Village concerns, clarification on when Village has authority to enforce. Distinction between zoning ordinance violations, ordinance violations vs. civil infractions (vandalism, beach driving), will Sheriff pick up where Village doesn’t have means to enforce. Hospenthal is doing a good job mowing.

Public Input 8:50 p.m.

Rosemary Tanner: Pleased that the trailer is gone. But other vehicles remain road right of way or sidewalks

Art Melendez: Skeptical that the Village will find a volunteer code enforcement officer.


Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting at 9:52 p.m. All ayes. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village acting clerk Mary Kalbach 7/12/15.

  1. Thank you!!!

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