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Signs of the Times: July Council Meeting Report

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 18, 2015 at 12:28 am

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

July 16, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

July 16, 2015 • 7 PM

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, July 16, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7:04 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Jenks, O’Dwyer, Soper, Holmes, Gatrell

Absent:           None

Public: Mary Link, Ron McPherson, Andrew Bolander, Gary Sauer, Ken Bonney, Emily Votruba

Approval of Minutes

Motion by O’Dwyer seconded by Gatrell to approve the June 18 meeting minutes as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer to approve the agenda with the following additions: Ag9: Community Building. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated

Public Input 7:10 pm

Ron McPherson: During work on 363 Crapo, Kirby Excavation hit McPherson’s foundation twice. Washer and dryer and pictures were askew. McPherson asked to be shown where line was. Ken Bonney said line had to be 10 ft from structure and that the line was installed along driveway of 363. McPherson talked to Kirby and was told the line could not legally be closer than 10 ft. McPherson dug down and saw that line went across his property and came out a foot from house. No one contacted McPherson for permission. McPherson considers this a trespass. Wants an apology and assurance that it won’t happen again. KB said the dispute is between McPherson and the landowner of 363; the village did not order the work done; KB is not sure who owns 363, the apartments back in the woods. Boring process hit the foundation. McPherson isn’t sure there’s damage. Wants to be asked for property access. A dispute ensued concerning an unrelated issue, McPherson’s fence. Jenks said she would talk to Kirby and the property owner.

Andrew Bolander: The Greenwood signs need to come down. They are not factual and provide no benefit to the Village. Dolores Schmitt/council did not get facts from the history books. As a new resident/homeowner on Furnace Ave., Bolander does not want to live on Greenwood Parkway. Holmes: Greenwoods established this whole area. Bolander: They had a great farm and contributed to Benzie County but not particularly to Elberta. Holmes: That’s not true. Bolander: Information coincides with other historical information from other sources. Jenks: It’s between Schmitt and MDOT. We supported her decision. Bolander: It makes a difference because I live here. It’s factually incorrect and it’s embarrassing. Holmes: It’s the best history we have. It’s just your opinion that it’s not true. Bolander: I consulted 17 references in which the Greenwoods are not cited as the first settlers. The library has many books and Dolores Schmitt apparently did not look at any of them.

CORRESPONDENCE

  • Letter from DEQ regarding water tank
  • Letter of resignation from Cathy Anderson from Budget, Finance & Audit Committee
  • FOIA changes in allowable fees. A webinar. Mary Kalbach will be taking it and council members should let Diane know if they would also like to participate. Possibly will be recorded.

Workman’s comp fund information from MML will also be available.

TREASURER’S REPORT

None received. Jenks signed checks this week.

APPROVAL OF BILLS

Items of note: None. Regular bills were paid.

Old Business

  • FEAA Contract: Jenks not comfortable signing it as is. Holmes: Have done it for 100 years. Jenks: can’t afford to mow once a week as FEAA specifies in contract. We need to take the keys away from the Community Building bathrooms because of damage. O’Dwyer: Should let them use it and have Ken Bonney’s helper clean it once a week. Jenks: They’re loud during meetings, and women’s room sink was broken off. If we give them $500 they should use it to rent a PortaJohn. This contract requires us to mow twice a week. Consensus is to support FEAA for benefit of local kids.

 Motion by Soper, seconded by Gatrell, to give $500 to FEAA with stipulation that they get a PortaJohn and not use the Community Building restrooms. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

O’Dwyer still wants the DPW assistant to sweep through the Community Building once per week.

AGENDA 1: Code Enforcement Officer

Jenks had found there is a Michigan Association of Code Enforcement Officers (a nonprofit). The association has rules, bylaws, and a training program. Can’t just appoint someone. Must go through process. Need to create an application. O’Dwyer said Cathy Anderson said Crystal Lake Twp. had posted a notice in the paper for such an officer. More research is required.

AGENDA 2: Fire Ordinance Outdoor Burning Stoves

O’Dwyer hasn’t checked to see if any new outdoor boilers have been installed. At present there are none. Amendment would regulate any stoves installed prior to July 16. Jenks: Every 5 years, as discussed in PPIC meeting, we need to review our ordinances to check for things that are outdated or to reflect changes in society/local law. Suggests adding a section 14 to proposed ordinance saying that in the event of any county state or federal law changes the ordinance would automatically adjust to conform to those changes. Jenks said she didn’t know whether local municipal law superseded county/state/federal law.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer to accept the fire ordinance as amended. Ayes: Gatrell, Holmes, O’Dywer, Jenks. Nay: Soper. Motion carried.

AGENDA 3: Village Water Storage Project

Need to install surveillance cameras, electric fence, improve access the road, install a gate, decommission one tank. The 150K tank is adequate storage currently per DEQ. Can add on if necessary to make taller. Costs too much to repair the other tank. O’Dwyer: Is the current tank big enough. Cathy Anderson talked to Gourdie Fraser about it. Odwyer: The village is not currently growing in population. KB: If [the Waterfront Park] condos come in, they’ll have to contribute to the water tank expansion. Needs fencing around it. Combine and reapply for loans. Prepare the loan development application, contract with Gordie Fraser to write the grant and do the work. Expect interest savings on loan. KB: Some of the money can come as a grant.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper to contract with Gourdie Fraser to prepare the loan application for water storage improvement. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 4: Village Sanitary Sewer Project

Sanitary sewer collection system. A condition of the loan is improvement of system by 51%. We have to borrow more money than we owe in order to get this price. Lincoln Ave is bad. That’s where improvements would begin. Sewer system required $29K extra (over budget) in repairs last year. KB: clay tile pipes falling apart and full of roots. Both pumps in Waterfront Park now broken; currently jerry-rigged.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to apply for a USDA loan. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Park and Rec Member

Motion by Soper, seconded by D’Dwyer to accept Andrew Bolander’s application to be a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

 AGENDA 6: Trash in Village

Jenks: A lot of problems with out-of-towner household rubbish in Village trash containers. Village should not be paying for trash haul out in front of Conundrum Café. O’Dwyer: The businesses should install their own trash receptacles. Holmes: Those [Village’s] are expensive containers. Jenks: When they get full they [Conundrum business owners] take them out and put them next to the container. Holmes: People from all over throw personal trash in those containers in the winter time. Looks like crap to see trash bags. Jenks: Almost every day see trash overflowing. Not our job to pick them up. Holmes: If they’re not there it’ll be on the street. Jenks No it won’t. Holmes: How is Waterfront Park trash different from the Duck’s Head trash? Soper: [Duck’s Head trash cans are] on village property and they’re village trash cans. KB: She [Michele Cannaert] usually takes care of them once or twice a week. She keeps an eye on them and puts new bags in them. When [DPW] comes through we pick it up. Holmes: What are we offering to people in this town right now? Gatrell: Agree with Holmes. KB: people were dumping big bags of their household trash in Waterfront Park. O’Dwyer: DPW should just keep a closer eye on it and pick it up. KB: She [Cannaert] empties it and ties it up. She checks it every day.

 AGENDA 7: Public Area in front of Conundrum

Jenks: “The girls” have planted flowers. Have had a lot of complaints about signs and bicycles being in the way. KB: MDOT will be shutting down the street Monday and Tuesday (July 20 and 21) from 168 to the post office to repair the curb. Kirby is doing the work for the county with state money. County has patched it for the last five years but did a terrible job.

 AGENDA 8: Port-a-Johns in Market Park

People are dumping trash in the Port-a-Johns. PJs need to be pumped the day before market, not day of, because of health concerns. Contract specifies they be pumped once a week. They should do it Wednesday rather than Thursday. KB: They are doing it Wednesday. Called them the day it was full and pumper came on Wednesday. It was pumped on Wednesday and needed it again the next day. Also, planted some trees in Penfold Park and the next day someone had half dug them up. 2 PJs at Waterfront Park and 1 at Penfold. Having an Elberta Methodist Church service in Penfold this week. We have an excellent market and we want to support it.

AGENDA 9: Community Building

Addressed earlier.

Committee/Department Reports (All reports are to be in writing and a matter of public record)

Commissioner: Gary Sauer County has received 13 applications for administrator’s job. Preliminary interviews will be held July 30. That session will be open to the public; not sure but thinks it’s at 4:30. New manager Matt Steels at County Road Commission; starts on July 20. No engineer currently. 3 positions are up on county planning commission. Need applications. Need more representation from around the county. It was in the paper. Write a letter to apply. Sauer provided hard copies of surveys being done mostly online by the county planning commission.

DPW: MML insurance rep did not have well no. 1 and its building on his record, so that was added. Redid the lift station at Waterfront Park. Need budget adjusted to pay for the new pumps, about $7,000. Will require amendment to sewer maintenance budget. Need invoices still for Lincoln Ave. sewer repairs and pumps. Already way over budget; will try to flush current issue with fire hose.

How much for sidewalks: One will cost $7,500–$8,000. Must be done or we lose our Act 51 money. Did nothing last year (did not fulfill Act 51 requirement as regards yearly spending). Will put sidewalk work out for bids (next Wednesday). Do a whole block at a time. Taking the sidewalk out and replace it. Cut roots in trees. Need to put in the piece of sidewalk in front of former Lannin property. Can bill the new property owners. But to get stamped sidewalk (like other new sidewalk on Furnace) will cost more than a whole block of regular sidewalk. Jenks: We’ll do it and put it on their taxes. Previous owner blocked it so they couldn’t do the survey. MDOT said do it and bill the property owner. Need to OK lowest bid now so we can have it done by Labor Day—Lincoln from Pearson. Jenks: How will that correspond with sewer repairs. KB: Sewer in that stretch is already done and sidewalks are missing there. That’s why he picked it. KB will put out bids for one block. Holmes: Most of our sidewalks are not nice to walk on or ride a bike on. KB: Sidewalks will be 4 inches thick and where they cross a driveway they will be 6 inches thick, and 6 inches with mesh where a truck would cross.

President’s Report: Jenks talked to Gourdie Fraser. Flies and Vandenbrink did sewer work. KB: Contractor hired a different contractor and wanted the village to pay extra. Discussion of various companies that have worked on Village water and sewer

BLUA: Check will come from BLUA for $22K. Glen’s leachate was more than what they budgeted so Village and Frankfort got a one time rebate. Elberta had 31% stake and Frankfort had the rest.

Fire & Safety: Holmes: Frustrated because the Fire board hasn’t had a meeting all year. Jenks: Ask Josh and Fire Dept. that they be more visible in the Village for these new fire permits. No one in village knows they need a permit. Charlie Thompson (fire chief) needs to be going around checking they’re safe. It’s not Ken Bonney’s job. Fire chief talked to guy in yellow house twice for burning illegal stuff. He was doing it late at night. Warned twice. Charlie said he will be fined. Someone had cleaned up fireworks debris from beach and collected in bags. KB went and hauled it. KB: should consider an ordinance to regulate fireworks; outlaw them or set limits on mortar size. Should be a time period limitation as well. Stuff comes down hot. Not a single lot in Elberta that’s big enough to be shooting off large mortars. KH: Worst thing is the parachutes with the lights in them. Jenks asks Holmes to look into the Village noise ordinance.

Parks & Rec Commission: Soper: KB, please throw some paint on the LSS. A sewer pipe is broken off. Did not have a quorum for the meeting the previous Thursday, so spent the time installing required NRT grant signs in the Waterfront Park.

Employee Relations: Gatrell: Did not have a meeting. Probably won’t have one next month either.

Budget, Finance & Audit: O’Dwyer: Cathy resigned. She did 97% of the work so we’re in trouble. Need to get someone else to help. Also need to advertise for a new clerk.

Policies, Procedures & Internal Controls: Have been going over stuff by email, dealing with office procedure. Cathy Anderson and Terry McGregor have implemented some helpful policies.

Public Input 9:05 p.m.

Emily Votruba: Need a local ordinance limiting or eliminating fireworks in the village limits. Sheriff Dept. won’t do anything unless there’s a local ordinance. Recent fireworks were a fire hazard and a severe noise nuisance.

Gary Sauer: Impressed with the local units. It’s all done at the local level. The higher up you go the worse it gets. I commend you all for volunteering.

Jenks: Chad [Hollenbeck] did not come tonight to promote the Benzie Bus millage renewal, but all agree they’re doing a great job. Would like to see some smaller vehicles. Holmes: Impressed with ridership numbers.

Adjournment

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Ddwyer, to adjourn the meeting at 9:11 p.m. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village clerk Mary Kalbach on July 18, 2015.

 

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

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

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

None.

CORRESPONDENCE

  • 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

APPROVAL OF BILLS

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.

Adjournment

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.

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

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—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

None.

Public Input 7:04 pm

None.

CORRESPONDENCE

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

APPROVAL OF BILLS

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

BLUA:

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.

Adjournment

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.

February 2015 Council Meeting: Budget Adopted

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on March 12, 2015 at 12:53 am

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—DRAFT Minutes—

—FINAL Minutes—

—ADOPTED FY2015 VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BUDGET—

February 19, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

 

Where There’s Smoke: January Council Meeting

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on January 16, 2015 at 1:31 am

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—DRAFT Minutes—

—FINAL Minutes—

January 15, 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 president Diane Jenks at 7:02 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           Bill Soper, Jean Sikes, vacant seat

Public: Cathy Anderson, Richard Jenkins, Emily Votruba, Ken Bonney, Bob and Bonnie Ness, Rosemary Tanner, Art Melendez, Sue Oseland, County Commissioner Gary Sauer, County Emergency Manager Frank Post

Approval of Minutes

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve the December 18 meeting minutes as presented. All ayes. Motion passed.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve the agenda with the following additions: Ag5 Redo Resolution to Vacate End of Acre Street, Ag6 Discussion of Portable Gas Tank for DPW, Ag7 Fire Ordinance. All ayes. Motion passed.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated.

Public Input 7:12

Emily Votruba noted the date on the agenda was incorrect. Sue Oseland: Lots of rearranging since the first phase of downsizing of local post offices. Senior postal workers get their choice of location and those with less seniority get let go, including Todd Climie. Elberta Post Office will have a new postmistress, coming over from Thompsonville, as of January 27. He loved that job. Gatrell: Volunteers to make cake. She will hold a sendoff for Todd on Monday the 26th at 11 am. Jenks: He did a good job, it’s not easy to come to a town where you don’t know anybody. We’re all set in our ways. Oseland: He dealt with the prison population for 20 years, so I guess he can deal with Elberta [laughter].

CORRESPONDENCE

Jenks read a letter into the record from Bob and Bonnie Ness responding to a notice of zoning violation for their fence. They said the fence had been put up and taken down three times in response to directives from the ZA. A property line dispute with neighbors is involved, possible moving of stakes, and the current problem is that the posts are placed on the outside of the fence (the “finished” side of fences must face out). Two attorneys had advised them that posts were not addressed in the Village Ordinance. Bonney: Said he’d left a note, stopped by several times to advise Nesses on proper placement/orientation, gave them each a copy of the ordinance. Said one of the Nesses’ son Eric’s fences has the same problem. First time they installed the fence it was correct, but they had a property line dispute—he has no jurisdiction over that. Holmes: There’s only one fence in Elberta that’s nonconforming. Jenks: Sorry that the Nesses, longtime community members, are having this problem. To be fair, notices should be sent to all property owners whose fences are in nonconformance. Village has opportunity for new start, came close to losing the village. Requires cooperation from everyone, following the rules and policies, to survive. Bonnie Ness: Repeated that posts are not addressed in the zoning, said they’d been threatened by their neighbor. Jenks: Look at the ordinance again, see if it addresses posts.

APPROVAL OF BILLS

BLUA and state auditor bills are biggest.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve payment of bills as presented. All ayes. Motion passed.

Old Business: Committee Schedules

Budget, Finance, and Audit Cte schedule was set and posted. Policies, Procedures and Internal Controls Cte had not yet met. Christine Walkons has agreed to be on PPIC. Municipal Buildings meetings not yet set. Employee Relations had not yet met but would soon begin monthly meetings. Art Melendez and Rosemary Tanner will be members. Fire Board will meet in February. Chair of each cte responsible for posting schedule of meetings in post office.

AGENDA 1: Discussion of Change to Five-Person Council

Jenks described process. Requires an ordinance (proposed ordinance in packets). Council needs to decide it wants to make that change, then a public hearing is held. Ordinance is adopted, there’s a 45 day review period. People can have a referendum on the decision during that period. Holmes: What happens if someone goes on vacation. Jenks: New majority is 3 with a 5-person council. Having a hard time keeping a full council, fewer members would save money too. Holmes: Honor is down to 3 and can’t keep them. Against it. O’Dwyer: State of Michigan recommended going to 5 people. WE need to cut costs. People aren’t breaking down the door to get on the ballot. Likes the idea of working more with committees involving the public. Jenks: Have a lot to do, lots of changes, get community members on committees to share the load. Gatrell: Councils have tried to change it before. Has a hard time with those who get elected and then resign. Disappointed that Linda Manville didn’t join any committees. Jenks: Linda has dedicated an enormous number of hours village. Holmes: Described a former bond issue related to the sewer that had passed but instead of spending the money on the sewer the council at the time decided to give the money back to the people (?). Jenks: Ordinance takes a vote of four. No decision.

AGENDA 2: Frank Post, County Emergency Management Coordinator

Post spoke about seeking input from the units on the county’s draft Hazardous Mitigation Plan, which needs to be updated every five years. County is two years late with update. Idea is to identify potential emergency situations (flooding, severe weather related damage, etc.) and minimize or eliminate damage to infrastructure and buildings, including homes, ahead of time. For example, every year $20-$30K was spent rebuilding houses on the Muskegon River. Instead now they give grants so people can put garages under their homes and take other measures. Improve capacity of culverts. Dealing with shoreline erosion as lake rises. (Handed out copies of Draft Plan.) Village is mentioned a few times. Need information on potential emergency issues in the Village or ongoing problems (flooding, freezing, erosion, etc.). Help us correct errors. FEMA gave Mich. $20 million for flood prevention. Areas already identified: Repeated flooding in a couple of homes in Lake Ann; Crystal Lake outlet, couple areas in Benzonia. There’s some dam somewhere in the county that may be about to fail but county figure out which one it is. Would like Council to pass a resolution supporting the plan at the February meeting. Comments will be accepted until the next county meeting. Asks board to sign an in-kind commitment to help with match for grant to produce plan. Draft plan can be found online.

AGENDA 3: Bid Process

Jenks conversation with State regarding what should be put out for bids. Some ideas: auditor, waste management, computer tech, website, Porta-Johns, mowing, phone service, attorney. Bonney: have a phone for the sewer lift station, every time it’s switched to a new service there’s a problem. Dumpster is only cleared once a month. We’re not paying for Porta-John service right now but people are still using them. Asks council to have bid items ideas at February meeting.

AGENDA 4: County Commissioner

Gary Sauer, new District VII county commissioner, gave a county report. Commission changed meeting dates to the 2nd (9 am) and 4th (4 pm) Tuesdays. Looks forward to getting to know and working with Villagers.

AGENDA 5: Resolution to Vacate End of Acre Street

Village failed to meet the filing deadline with the County Land Commission (30 days with certified copy). Same resolution passed previously.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Gatrell, to sign the resolution to vacate the portion of Acre Street between Ravine and Pearson, for a total decertification length of 165 ft, which is the west end of Acre. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 6: Portable Transfer Tank for Fuel for DPW

Ken Bonney deems a transfer tank necessary for refueling the Dumore and the generators. State of Michigan advised checking into the rules and asking the DEQ. Jenks spoke with DEQ, looked at complying storage tanks and pumps online. Cost $300-$600 for a 100 gal. tank. DEQ rules had recently changed. Seeking advice from Jeffery Tanner. Bonney: It wouldn’t be a storage tank, but a transfer tank, and it’s for diesel. A 101 gal. or larger tank requires a Hazmat license. Tank I want is 36 gal. Can put diesel in the tank when he puts gas in the pickup to save time. It’s secure. Will pay with the Dumore card for recordkeeping. DEQ approved tank with the lockable gas cap, tank, hose, pump, would cost about $550. Dumore is a 35 gal tank (no gauge). Tank would save money, will last, pay for itself. Running the Dumore to Frankfort to refuel would be like driving a lawnmower there.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell, to approve DPW purchase of a fuel transfer tank and pump subject to meeting regulations and DEQ approval. All ayes. Motion passed.

AGENDA 7: Fire Ordinance Amendment

Holmes brought a copy of Frankfort’s fire ordinance. Jenks asked Holmes to bring Fire Chief to next council meeting to answer questions about air quality, types of burning, the process for solving these problems. Holmes: We have people burning hazardous and toxic substances inside and outside. Saw someone burning a Naugahyde chair. Fire Ordinance will be on agenda for this meeting and we can ask him our questions. Holmes: We have a fire ordinance, but we have a problem with smoke from stacks. Jenks: Any ordinance will only be as good as its enforcement, that’s why we need to hear from our fire chief.

Committee/Department Reports

DPW: Repaired a couple of water valves that froze. Well alternator switches being worked on. Christmas decorations are down. Researching camera surveillance system; one had two wireless cameras could be up to 500 ft. from box, $329. 6 camera unit with cables up to 60 ft., $399. 8 cameras also 60 ft, $599. Each camera will shoot 170 ft at night, would run about 1 month, all weather. Will discuss with various local security professionals. Most of the vandals at the water tower have literally signed their names. Consumers will be trimming more trees in the spring.

President’s Report: Several budget meetings had been held. Jenks met with Roxanne Nicolas and Eric Cline from MI Treasury. Please review the draft budget and give feedback to Cathy Anderson—she’s worked very hard. Next meeting we’ll need to approve the budget. Have sent a draft to the state. State urges us to follow the rules. They’ve been nice and helpful and want us to make it, but we have a lot of work to do. Jenks spoke with Cary Vaughn about the letter received in November about our Corrective Action Plan not being finished yet. Cathy has volunteered to look through that. Under former councils required reports were not filed, so we’re getting advice on what those are and when they need to be done. State recommends training for newly elected officials, and veteran members, as policies have changed over the years. “We’re starting from scratch.” State recommends sending two people from Village to MML meeting in Lansing in March; a clerk and treasurer training is also recommended. Met with Kristine Mills re Bridal Expo. Ten vendors signed up so far, looking for more. No admission for the public so it should be well attended.

BLUA: Holmes said BLUA is upgrading some equipment that is 25 yrs old.

Fire & Safety: Fire Board is meeting in February regarding new millage

Parks & Rec: Solstice Committee is planning to hold the festival. Chair is Bill Soper. Chili cookoff fundraiser tentatively scheduled for February 21. Parks & Rec filled out the Benzie County. Christmas tree sale Recreation Plan survey as a group. Christmas tree sale made $175. Sold 21 trees out of 30. Will order fewer trees next year.

Employee Relations: Meetings to begin in February

Budget, Finance & Audit: Draft FY2015 Budget is out for review. Explanation sheet on front shows what’s different from the way Budget has been written in the past. Takeaways: General Fund will have about $40K to pay off debt. Parks will be able to contribute some money toward the debt, and Water and Sewer will have a bit of an accrual to put in its reserves. That accounts for completely paying off the attorney fees in this calendar year. Public hearing at beginning of February meeting.

Public Input 8:52

Rosemary Tanner inquired about the trailer that is parked on the Village right of way next to Bill Hughes’s house.

Ken Holmes brought up mailboxes being put on Village right of too close to the road. Bonney: “The wing plow’ll take care of that.” Holmes: “I wish it would.” [laughter] Bonney: Must swerve out to avoid them. Holmes: Anyone with a mailbox is driving a spike in the Elberta Post Office. Jenks: Need an ordinance that spells that out. People have a right to change their postal address and get a mailbox. Sue Oseland: post boxes are right up against the street in Frankfort. Holmes: They have curbs there. Tanner: If I have to mow that right of way, that’s Village property, I ought to be able to put a post box on it. Jenks: If you told the people with boxes that are in the way to move them I bet they would. Several: No they wouldn’t. Bonney: The one I hit every year… He just puts it back.

Tanner: When a relative was visiting with a trailer he was told he could not park it there more than two weeks. More discussion of what the ordinance specifies. O’Dwyer: Whoever has a complaint should look it up. Cathy Anderson: What about people who park across the sidewalk, blocking it. Bonney: Call Sheriff Dept and have them issue a ticket. Oseland: Council needs to get clear on ordinances, they need to be applied equally, and not spend a lot of time debating what the ordinances say during meetings. Bonnie Ness asked why Trustee Jean Sikes was absent and whether she will serve. Jenks replied that personal matters will likely keep Sikes from serving. Ness asked how many zoning violation letters had been sent out. Ken Bonney said he had sent out two violation notices. Only sent letters to those in noncompliance who had filed a permit during his time in office as zoning administrator, not retroactively. Everyone who’s put a fence up since I’ve been in office has had a permit.

Motion by Jenks, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting at 9:02. All ayes. Motion passed.

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

Short and Sweet: December Council Meeting

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on January 16, 2015 at 12:28 am

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—Minutes—

December 18, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, December 18, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by president Diane Jenks at 7:05 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           Jean Sikes, vacant seat

Public: Lois Schram, Cathy Anderson, Richard Jenkins, Emily Votruba, Ken Bonney

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve the agenda as presented. All ayes. Motion passed.

Agenda Conflict: None stated. Read the rest of this entry »

“Do We Want to Remain a Village? I Think It’s Worth It”—Diane Jenks

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Gov't Watch, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on November 20, 2014 at 9:34 pm

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—DRAFT Minutes—

November 20, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The newly elected Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held its first regular meeting on Thursday, November 20, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by president Diane Jenks at 7:08 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           Joyce Gatrell, Jean Sikes Read the rest of this entry »

Revising the DEP: Special Meeting of the Village Council October 27, 2014

In Gov't Watch, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on October 27, 2014 at 11:10 pm

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

—DRAFT Minutes TO COME—

October 27, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

Revised DEP Cover Letter from Chris Olson

Audit Analysis and Projections

Revised DEP Resolution of Adoption

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

VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES REGULAR MEETING

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.

CORRESPONDENCE

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.

APPROVAL OF BILLS

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.

Council Holds Workshop Meeting to Deal with Deficit Elimination Plan Shortfall

In Gov't Watch, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on August 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

August 28, 2014 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

 

—DRAFT—

 VILLAGE OF ELBERTA BOARD OF TRUSTEES

WORKSHOP MEETING

August 28, 2014 • 7 PM

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a special budget workshop meeting on Thursday, August 28, 2014, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan, to deal with the deficit elimination plan shortfall.

The meeting was called to order by president pro tempore Robin Rommell at 7:03 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           Reggie Manville (leave of absence), Linda Manville (resigned)

Public: Mary Kalbach, Ken Bonney, Roxanne Nicholas (State Dept Treasury), Chris Olson, Emily Votruba, Ron and Francine McPherson, two other members of public

AGENDA 1: VILLAGE FINANCIAL SITUATION

 Rommell said the Village had added twice as much to its deficit through 2014 than expected, and the DEP is no longer workable (i.e., we are way off schedule). The deficit began to accrue about 20 years ago. The Village went from a $150,000 excess in its general fund to over $800,000 in deficit, and is now at $672K deficit. (Council had a sheet showing a history of the deficit.) Halfway through this fiscal year, it’s time to take stock and look at other options. Public comment welcome at any time during this meeting. Council was first put on notice by the State regarding deficit in 2010/11. After this year’s audit we learned we had added $113K to the deficit.

Chris Olson described the usual budget process: Council adopts a budget by fund, then staff fill in the line items. This year, however, these line items were not filled in and amendments not made because of staff turnover. Accurate budget was not available. Legal expenses were greater than anticipated. An additional $45K legal bill came in after the fiscal year ended. Department 441, the Garage, the hours had not been distributed through the funds and so were charged to the General Fund at $14K higher than expected. The Fire/Safety expense was about $2K higher than expected. General Fund revenues were $5K lower than expected. Close to $114K was added to the deficit, bringing the total to $672K. Village will not realize the savings it had intended for this year. If everything otherwise goes according to plan, at the end of FY 2018/19 Village will still be in deficit of about $127K if no further steps are taken to increase revenues or decrease expenditures. Village pays about $3K quarterly for the fire contract. Why has Fire Dept expense gone from $16K to $18K? There may be items being charged to that line item that are not known. The Waste Collection Day—you weren’t going to have one and then you did. Was there offsetting revenue that covered that expense? Hopefully the legal expenses related to zoning appeals and the lawsuit are over.

A 1 mil. tax levy would bring in about $8600. If you did a 3 mil increase for five years you could overcome the $127K. Would voters approve it? Is it even legally possible?

Further reductions in services may be required. Look into fixed cost contracts. As it is, there are no projects to cut, no equipment to cut. Almost no place but cutting people.

—DRAFT—

Rommell: Neal [auditor] said we are in worse shape now than a year ago. He said we should make a list of what we’re legally obligated to do and do that minimum.

Member of public: When was the last tax increase?

Ken Holmes: Hasn’t been a tax increase for the General Fund for years and years.

Ron McPherson: I don’t see a lot of frills, I don’t see a lot of employees. I live on Crapo Street; no one has done anything to that street since I was a child. Wondering why Village property hasn’t gone on the market yet.

Rommell: Veterans Park, Anderson Park contain pump houses for the water system, requires a isolation distance of 100 feet and that leaves a nonbuildable lot.

McPherson: Seems the two most valuable/marketable properties are the Waterfront Park and the Farmers’ Market Park. Do LSS and the Farmers’ Market Park return a profit?

Rommell: Revenues from LSS pretty much pay for park maintenance for all parks in the village. We are already planning to sell the Farmers’ Market Park as part of our deficit elimination plan

Chris Olson: Several of the property appraisals did not take into account the water system features that need setbacks around them. The Library appraised at $60K and will be sold this year according to the plan. The Farmers’ Market Park is expected to sell for $180K next year. Those two pieces account for about 40% of the entire deficit elimination plan.

Holmes/Jenks: LSS is a historic property, any buyer would have to follow the preservation rules. We got an MDOT grant for the property/LSS and therefore it can’t change hands for 50 years.

Ken Holmes: The community building was built and the smart people on the council at that time made sure we upgraded the water system while we had the money. Very little area in the Village that isn’t considered into the water table.

Olson: Grant funds, if not used for the specific purpose, have to be paid back.

Rommell: When we filed our DEP the State asked what if the Library and Farmers’ Market Park don’t sell? And we don’t have a plan B. Also, legally, anything designated a park requires a vote of the people. We can continue down this road, adding $50K-$70K to the deficit each year until the State appoints an emergency manager to make the hard choices. Or we look at disincorporating and becoming part of Frankfort or Gilmore. There has to be an in between. (Explains that the general fund deficit is different from debt; “we owe ourselves.”)

Jenks: Just got the library survey back within in the past two weeks, so paperwork is finalized to put the Library on the market.

Rommell: Gilmore Township has been looking at a grant to purchase the Library for township use. Mel Buechner’s (sp?) garage used to be there so they need a DEQ assessment.

—DRAFT—

Holmes: “We’re in trouble. But why would the state want anything to do with a village that’s $500K in debt when there are communities all over the state that owe millions and millions? Give me a break.”

Roxanne Nicholas: State is taking Village’s situation seriously but trying to give the Village leeway to control its own destiny.

Olson: Dept of Treasury can’t ignore the will of the legislature. You’ve already had two deficit reduction plans rejected. The current plan is under consideration but they want a plan B in case you can’t sell the properties. With the latest operational losses… The State pays for the emergency manager. The state can force you into a consent agreement. (Gives examples of communities where that happened: Ecorse, Hamtramck, Pontiac.) The state still has to do what’s required if that’s what the numbers show. Your General Fund budget is about $200K and you have close to a $700K deficit. There’s not going to be any ignoring of this situation—not based on the conversations I’ve had.

Holmes: “It cost us several thousand dollars to hire you, and our attorneys cost us a lot of thousand dollars, and so far it hasn’t helped one damn bit.”

Olson: “My advice hasn’t been followed.”

Holmes: “I have followed what you’ve been doing, I have followed the costs, and the cost when we started out, you were going to figure out a way—you were—to balance that budget.”

Olson: “You contracted me for a five-year deficit elimination plan which I had to produce in 10 business days, and a corrective action plan based on 13 to 15 material weaknesses in internal control, which I had about 20 days to do, plus the follow-up policies. I’ve basically been working for free for the Village since March. You have not received my last bill. You still owe me $1900, based on a cap. I put a cap on the fee. I grew up only 12 miles from here. This is almost a home town rescue effort for me.”

Holmes: “I followed your background over the last five years.”

Wilkins asks to move on.

Emily Votruba: Had met with the descendants of Nels and Polla Bye at their request (and invited council members to attend that meeting). Did anyone on council follow up with Chris Sullivan on the possibility of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy purchasing and protecting the Village’s Beach property? To avoid that property being sold by an emergency manager, be a source of revenue, and take that expense off the rolls.

Rommell: Agrees. Benton Harbor: first thing emergency manager did was sell off the waterfront property. Possibly to Rick Snyder’s golf buddies.

Votruba: “You kind of get that impression. What would be the incentive for someone to come in and take us over, otherwise?”

Rommell: If we were located where Honor is located I would be less concerned. Nothing is off the table with an emergency manager.

—DRAFT—

Votruba: Sullivan said he had contacted Reggie and Diane (almost a year ago) and was willing to discuss what would be necessary to make an arrangement like that but hadn’t heard back. He’s a good guy, he coordinated the transfer of EDNA (Elberta Dunes South Natural Area) back to the Village. His mission is to protect lands for public use.

Rommell: I think that’s definitely something we should follow up on.

Wilkins asked who would follow up and Rommell volunteered.

Olson at Rommell’s invitation went through some suggestions he had earlier sent by email. Save money in General Fund by moving labor expenses, materials, supplies, to the Major and Local Streets funds. December, January and February labor is $3000, this could be put in streets. Street funds are in good shape.

Ken Bonney: Went to the Act 51 meeting. Under their rules, I have to spend a certain amt of Act 51 money on walkways. Last year we were $500 short. Need to spend $4,000 on walkways per year or lose the money. The garage and all the expenses can go under Act 51. Most equipment, including lawn mower, is owned by Streets funds. The state figures fuel and operation of the equipment under the equipment expense, so that means the power and the whole nine yards for the shop could go under Streets, then the General fund would pay something to rent the office space in that building.

Olson: Right now the equipment is owned by the General fund and the other funds rent it. It amounts to a revenue stream for the General Fund. The council, clerk, treasurer, and the village hall expenses are expensed out to the other funds. It’s now costing $45K to pay for council’s time, clerk and treasurer, and the office. For nonmotorized expenses. I don’t think you can use Act 51 on the garage.

Bonney: The garage houses and is the repair shop for all the equipment to work on the streets. According to what I learned at the Act 51 meeting you can pay the light bill out of Act 51 and everything. I made a point of asking. Most of our equipment was purchased with Street money.

Olson: General fund should have only a small portion of the personnel expenses. Anything you can do to charge out expenses to other funds. Go through and see what can be moved.

Rommell: Ken, this Dept 441-Garage could be incorporated into major and local streets and do a garage fund within each of those? Because then you could use Act 51 money for repairs, maintenance, utilities, etc.?

Bonney: Yes. Streets owns most of the equipment. When I’m work on Streets equipment, it should be billed to Streets. If I’m mowing the parks, it already gets billed to the right fund. If I use the DuMore on the water, for example, the water should pay back Streets. The State has a book that says how much, with fuel, the equipment should be “rented” for.

Rommell: And that would take $5K of debt out of the general fund.

Olson: If those expenses are done that way and if the Streets fund owns the equipment, not the General Fund, based on that Act 51 equipment rental rate sheet, that has up to now been used as an internal revenue source. This year it’s worth about $20K in revenue to the General Fund.

—DRAFT—

Rommell: So if you take 441 Garage out of the General Fund then you take the equipment charges out of the General Fund, and the General fund actually loses money—we lose $20K in revenue in exchange for a $5K expense reduction.

Olson: Also consider that if any equipment needs to be replaced, you have no funding for that. It would have to come out of Streets, sewer, etc.

Bonney: Does street lighting come out of the General Fund? Dept 448 for $15K. That should come out of the Streets.

Olson: That’s not a legitimate Act 51 expense because it’s purely optional to have street lighting in the neighborhoods. It’s a perk. Do you want to continue it? You’re paying a rental rate to your utility $30/month for every one of those lights.

Nicholas: Could there be a direct assessment/charge to residents for street lighting?

Bonney: Will call instructor from Act 51 class and find out if street lighting is covered. But all the utilities in the office could come out of the street.

Rommell: All the utilities now get split 50/50. Half to the office dept, and have to the Garage Dept.

Bonney: Have the office rent the phones and utilities for $1,000/year.

Jenks: Is the Village still paying 50% utilities for the Library building? because we shouldn’t be paying anything for that now.

Bonney: All the bills for that still come to the Village.

Discussion as to whether the Village has been billing the Township for Library expenses. Unclear. Township rents building for $1500/yr. Agreement needs to be altered.

McPherson: Can you amend previous years?

Olson: Once the audit’s done, no.

Bonney: If you look at these funds as separate businesses, the General fund is the one going bankrupt.

Council members, attorneys, planning and zoning, street lighting, Community Building, office, fire department, all come out of General Fund. Fire and Rescue millage will hopefully be voted in on the November ballot and that will cover that whole expense for the Village.

Rommell: Has a revised time sheet that allocates time spent on different funds. Employee Relations will consider it. With new hours (from 32 to 16) we don’t know what portion yet to allocate where.

Olson: Could BLUA take over the billing for water/sewer?

—DRAFT—

Rommell: Laura Manville said once you get the process down it should only take a couple of hours a month, so it’s not worth contracting it out.

Nicholas: Has there been any discussion with Frankfort of contracting any services with them?

Holmes: Nope.

Bonney: Frankfort’s seasonal guy makes $5/hr more than I do, so that wouldn’t save any money.

Rommell: That’s just your hourly rate. Maybe we contract for less coverage.

Holmes: It took us 25 years to establish BLUA. Frankfort and Elberta never see eye to eye on anything.

Olson: Water and sewer aren’t statutory duties, it’s something the Village chose to do. If you can free up your time for higher level functions…

Mary Kalbach: It couldn’t hurt to ask Frankfort what they would charge.

Rommell: We should look at something new. What we’ve been doing isn’t working. We should explore more options. We talked about contracting park maintenance, but we didn’t do anything about it. Right now we’re paying $30/week.

Olson: Plus you’ve got all your equipment, fueling it, insuring it…

Bonney: The contractor would have to have all that equipment and pay minimum wage (for it to save us money) and you’re not going to get anybody to contract for minimum wage.

Jenks: Probably not but we need to have numbers to show the state that we tried.

Bonney said he would get figures for yearly bid.

Olson: Depends how short and often you want to mow. Might consider doing less, to cut costs. At what point will you need to replace equipment? That might also make it worth it to contract

Votruba: On mowing, something very dear to my heart, if you raise the mower to three inches or higher you save a lot of water, time, and money at the Waterfront Park. Longer grass requires less water. If we cut back the area that’s mowed even just a couple of feet, that could save a lot of money too. What is really important to be short, and what areas could even be left unmowed?

Rommell: Right now we’re mowing a ball field and games are over. Eric (from State) has said several times we need to look into all possible contract opportunities.

Bonney will look for plowing bids. Would have to be properly insured according to Act 51.

Wilkins: Could we sell our plow truck?

Bonney: Only for about $3,000.

—DRAFT—

Member of public: Who collects the fines for ordinance violations? That’s a type of revenue.

Bonney: We don’t get the money if we write a ticket. Any tickets I write, the money goes to the County building and to a library fund. Doesn’t matter what ordinance.

And General Fund pays Ken’s time to do enforce ordinances.

Member of public: Is that why ordinances aren’t being followed in the Village?

Bonney: You can’t not mow the Village stuff and expect people to mow their stuff. I do everything at 2 ¾ inches.

Mary is asked to check on water/sewer and other contracting opportunities.

Jenks asks Bonney to check with Act 51 or county specs for plowing. Olson says Villages/Cities have the advantage of letting snow go a little longer. County has to “chase snowflakes.” Should look at comparably sized communities. Contractor should have all the necessary liability coverage. Bonney says most stores plow to one inch for insurance purposes. Plowing should be done between 2 am and 6 am.

Nicholas: Can payroll be contracted?

Votruba: What about tax processing?

Rommell: The county prints our tax bills. We just pick them up and mail them. Already in the envelopes.

Votruba: Is that the way it always was?

Holmes: Always.

Rommell: We get a printout of what the taxes were for each property each year or we can download the info to our records. The county charges us $600 for that, and that’s without postage.

Bonney: Why not bid out all the work on the water system? Billing, sampling…

Wilkins: Didn’t we already do that?

Bonney: That was just for backup operator. [Which is required by law.]

Olson: Need to find a very conscientious company.

Bonney: Can’t hire Frankfort to take care of our water system. Have to have at least one full-time person here. DEQ won’t allow it. You can contract it, but you have to have a dedicated person, on call 24/7.

Jenks: I appreciate knowing that when I have to go to work my road is going to be plowed.

—DRAFT—

Nicholas: Is a millage under consideration?

Rommell: I don’t know where we are legally. I think we’re almost maxed with our millage.

Jenks: Should focus on the fire millage this time.

Rommell: We have addressed the deficit in the water fund with our rate increase on ready to serve and per 1K gallons.

Olson: I need a copy of that to incorporate into the plan. The Parks plan did well last year, it was less overbudget than anticipated. Still some accounting to be done with Solstice. But has always looked pretty good.

Rommell: Solstice costs the Village money though.

Wilkins: How?

Rommell: Solstice and Farmers’ Market get all of their admin free. They pay nothing for Mary’s time and Sheila’s time. A couple weeks ago I spent three hours straightening out Farmers’ Market stuff. Postage for mailings to vendors, the bank deposits, etc. The big thing for Solstice is loss of rental revenue for that whole weekend. Costing the village $5,000 before it does anything.

Holmes: It should only be one day.

Wilkins: If we had more volunteers helping clean up instead of parking at the top of the hill and watching people clean up, it would go faster.

Jenks: It’s an opportunity to show off that building and the whole area.

Kalbach: It brings people to our town.

Wilkins: It’s not $5,000 down the drain because Solstice makes that. When I started on Solstice committee 4 years ago, funds in the Parks and Rec and Solstice accounts were $9K. Now we’re at $21K. That to me says we’ve made money for the parks.

Discussion of Solstice possibly renting the LSS at a reduced rate.

Bonney: We could have fewer garbage cans to save money. We need to cut down on the General, but when I bring ideas in, like when I suggested not putting out the boardwalk to save money, I got calls threatening to be sued.

Rommell: I would guess that as many people use that beach walk to the pier each summer as come to the Solstice Festival.

Bonney: You know that at the base of that pier there’s a big yellow sign that says “Not for Public Use”? You want to talk liability? Why would the Village put a trail down to something that’s not designed for public use?

—DRAFT—

Holmes: We need to add revenue.

Votruba: 2010 I think, that council had on the ballot a repeal of the Headlee Amendment, and it failed. Our tax rate I’ve heard is the highest of any village in the county. What’s the feasibility of trying a Headlee repeal again? Maybe with an education campaign it might pass.

Olson: The Village can provide information but can’t use tax dollars to promote either side of an issue. What would the return be? A mil, 2/10th of a mil. Might not be worth it. What is the buzz on the fire millage, will it work? Does each unit have to approve it or is it the majority overall? The fire millage, if it passes, will be cover half of what you have to recover for the DEP to be on track.

Jenks: This is just for Gilmore and Elberta. Frankfort has nothing to do with the vote. They’re going for a millage too, on their own.

Olson: Where is the township collecting its funds? Why doesn’t Township pay for the whole fire service?

Rommell: Elberta used to have its own fire department. That was eliminated and we contracted with Frankfort. The Township has its own contract with Frankfort. People in the Village won’t get double billed with this new millage.

Olson: But if the Village and the Township both pay out of the General Fund, effectively the Village is paying twice.

Jenks: Gilmore contracts with Frankfort and their contract is similar to ours and Elberta contracts separately, so my question is, how is that 1.5 mil going to help us, when it’s never helped us in the past?

Olson: You shouldn’t have a contract anymore.

Holmes you won’t have a contract now because this is a fire millage. period.

Jenks: The Village won’t get a bill from Frankfort anymore?

Holmes: No.

Discussion of why the fire budget is over by about $4K. Nicholas asks if an extra quarter was paid for. Rommell says more likely a bill was paid late. We paid five instead of four.

Discussion of labor expense in the Garage, what’s realistic for winter.

Olson: for winter plowing last year for every dollar you spent on labor you spent $3.50 on equipment. That doesn’t seem right because there would have been more overtime in winter. The last quarter probably got missed. If you used that much equipment and that much fuel, somebody was driving, so get some of that labor out of the general fund and into Streets

Bonney: will go back and look at the calendar and give Mary info.

—DRAFT—

Discussion of explaining cuts to services to residents. Rommell asked Bonney if the brush she’s seen him and Doug hauling is stuff they’ve cut or they’re picking it up for people. Bonney says they’re picking it up. “That’s an expense you probably don’t need.” Holmes: if you don’t pick it up it piles up. Rommell: That’s the kind of expense we need to eliminate. Bonney: the brush also comes underneath streets. doesn’t come out of general fund. Holmes mentions his own trees and that if no one came and picked up his brush it would stay there forever.

Olson: Could you cut street lighting?

Several people: We need it.

Olson: Try to renegotiate rate with power company.

Last winter was the first time Bonney shut off lights in Park in off season. This will continue to be a savings.

McPherson: Benches in Waterfront Park are falling apart, there’s vandalism

Wilkins: Parks and Rec is looking into fixing benches. At one point we had decided a percentage of LSS revenue was going to be earmarked for park repairs because if it keeps going down no one’s going to want to rent it

Bonney: Every building the village owns needs work.

Rommell: in our five year plan there’s no provision for maintenance and improvements

Olson: Are legal expenses expected to go down significantly?

Jenks: If everybody behaves themselves.

Olson: Any other major planning and zoning in the works? Linda (Manville) had mentioned working with Lakes to Land Regional Initiative. Developer (Putney) didn’t ask for monetary damages and therefore you weren’t covered by your insurance and had to pay those costs. Consider finding a different carrier or a rider that covers costs in those cases

Jenks: there’s money available through Lakes to Land for zoning.

Olson: if you decide to make zoning changes to better conform to your master plan that might involve regulations and some people may object to those and want to follow the old laws. (i.e., potential litigation)

Holmes: one house has sold finally and a couple more have been built. I truly feel we need to get a hold of the developer (Elberta Land Holding Company) and ask what they’re going to do down there

Bonney: They owe the village a lot of money (taxes, fines and water/sewer bills)

Olson: and if they don’t pay you might end up with the property. Is that something you want?

—DRAFT—

(Resounding yeses and an offer from audience to buy a portion of it)

At a certain point the county buys the delinquent tax bills. You’ve got two years to pay your property tax bills. Village or the township get the revenue so they can continue operations.

Someone: Waterfront Park is the only place we have for increasing the tax base.

Olson: if the fire millage goes you’ll have 15K a year in savings for the next four years, streetlights renegotiated or cut should share in savings if they’ve been made more energy efficient, get LSS rental revenue for the third weekend in June (Solstice).

Discussion of vandalism to lights in the Waterfront Park, vandalism to fence around Roundhouse, liability issue with people going into Roundhouse area to take pictures.

Agenda for September 18 Council Meeting: Should be some communication with Chris Sullivan. Coordinate street funds. Move forward with library sale. Look at contract with township to get rid of our utility payment. Mary talk to Consumers about lower rate for street lighting. Ken to get bids for contracting mowing, plowing, water, sewer. September 18 have bids.

Member of public: Why waste money looking into other people? That guy right there (Ken Bonney) is cheaper than anyone you could hire to do that with the right qualifications.

Probably, but need to document that and show the State.

Wilkins: Maybe council members should help Ken so it doesn’t take him a lot of time.

Jenks says she’ll help Ken with bids once he gets specs worked out.

More discussion of contracting out, whether we need system upgrades. Holmes: no one has a modern computerized water reading system like ours. If another community did it, they’d need to buy the program we use. Nicholas suggested there might be workarounds for that.

Bonney: What’s happening with the billing is that when they bought the program they didn’t pay for the backup service. So when Laura’s computer got upgraded to the new Windows, they would have had to buy a new program for up to $10K because it’s incompatible. So now they transfer it to the old computer which sits there just for that. It’s not a problem. For 8 or 10K somebody can walk across that office a lot of times.

Rommell: We are going to add to the debt this year if we don’t do something different.

McPherson: Negotiate with the State for more time?

Nicholas: five years is already a long time.

Jenks: They’ve been very patient

Francine McPherson: What about different insurance?

Rommell: We did got rid of benefits, paid holidays, etc. We have a good rate on insurance through the Michigan Municipal League.

—DRAFT—

Kalbach: Need to find ways to make money.

Nicholas: What about charging for parking?

Jenks: Checked out the Empire paid parking. Machine was full and they also had donation buckets. Doesn’t seem to take many man hours. We could do donation buckets around the village.

Discussion of boat launch (Farmers’ Market Park) honor system donation box. Holmes: every time we put a donation can down there it was gone the next day or there was nothing in it.

Votruba: Paid parking at the beach is worth looking. A park pass system that’s scannable, like an EZ Pass might be cheap to run.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Jenks, to adjourn the meeting, at 9:38 pm. All ayes. Meeting adjourned.

 

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village clerk Mary Kalbach. These are draft minutes that have not yet been approved by Council.

 

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Documents prepared by Chris Olson

Memo Intoducing Budget Amendment Analysis

Elberta FY 2013-14 budget amendments using end of year info summary

Elberta FY 2013-14 budget amendments general fund details