Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Village Money Situation’ Category

And a-One and a-Two: Village Weighs Proceeding with Restroom Project with Partial Grant Funding

In Breaking, Community Alert, Elberta Farmers' Market, Farmers' Market, Infrastructure and Planning, Open Season, Village Money Situation, Water on June 5, 2016 at 8:00 pm

By Emily Votruba, Parks & Rec Secretary

At the February Parks and Rec meeting this year, Elberta Farmers’ Market master Sue Oseland presented a proposal to apply for a $70K USDA grant for permanent, piped restroom facilities at the Penfold/Farmers’ Market park. The restroom would be 10×20 with two separate ADA-compliant family restrooms. The facility would be locked at night and would shut down completely from late October to beginning of May.

For many years now the Market and Penfold Park have been served by two porta-potties. The Parks and Rec Commission and the Village Council agreed that permanent facilities would better serve Farmers Market patrons and vendors during the season as well as people who use the Betsie Valley Trail, which has an important junction there at M-22. The Parks & Rec Commission voted to support Sue’s application and voted to kick in another $5K for a drinking fountain if the grant was received.

The Village received word June 3 that the USDA had accepted the proposal but due to their own budget constraints are prepared to award only $50K of the original $70K requested. Before making their offer official, USDA needs to know whether the Village would still proceed with the project with this partial funding. The deadline to let them know is June 10.

Parks & Rec and the Village Council will hold a special joint meeting June 9 at 6:30 in the Community Building to decide if they can commit to do the project with the lesser funding amount and/or commit Village funds to the project. The Village is still in a deficit situation, despite progress in shaving it down; six years after the Village was placed on watch by the state for fiscal stress, our revised Deficit Elimination Plan has still not yet been accepted by the Treasury Department. Avoiding cost overruns is certainly top of mind for everyone.

P&R and Council hope the community will come out for this very important discussion. Can we complete this project for $50K? And/or can we count on additional support from the community to bring us up to the projected $70K? The Parks & Rec Commission feels that a safe, up-to-date, attractive facility would be a huge asset to the market, the park, the trail, and our human community here in the Village. Please come and tell the Village leadership what you think. Ψ

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


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.


  • 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.


None received. Jenks signed checks this week.


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.


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


June 18, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

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

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

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:          none

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

Approval of Minutes

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

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

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

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated.

Public Input 7:11 pm



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


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

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

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

Old Business

  • Council reduction to 5 trustees: As of May 30, the Village has a five member council: 4 trustees and a president. No petitions were filed during the comment period.
  • Fire ordinance and permits: Fire pit permits are available at the Village Office. Residents required to get a signed permit for compliant outdoor burning. Can be signed by Charlie Thompson (231-651-0045), Ray Miehlke (231-631-4775) or Mark Ketz (231-383-1354). Don’t call Ken Bonney, call one of those fire officials. Complaints should also be addressed to them.

AGENDA 1: Budget Amendment

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

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

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

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

AGENDA 2: Fire Ordinance Outdoor Burning Stoves

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

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

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

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

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

Note on Auditor Fee

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

AGENDA 4: Frankfort–Elberta Athletic Association

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

AGENDA 5: Change Order for Grant for Apron Dock Removal

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

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

AGENDA 5: Designate Penfold Park as Waterways Trailhead Access Point

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

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

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

AGENDA 6: Code Enforcement Officer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Relations: Didn’t have a meeting.

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

Public Input 8:50 p.m.

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

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


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

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

Solstice Approved: May Council Meeting

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


—DRAFT Minutes—

May 21, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

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

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

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

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

Absent:           vacant seat, Jean Sikes

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

Approval of Minutes

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

Approval of Agenda

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

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts


Public Input 7:04 pm



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


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

Items of note: None

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

Old Business

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

AGENDA 1: DPW Wages and Benefits

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

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

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

AGENDA 2: Sewer Maintenance and Water Billing Software

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

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

4 ayes. 1 nay. Motion passed.

AGENDA 3: 2015 Village Parks Mowing Contract

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

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

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

AGENDA 4: Parks and Recreation Budget Amendment

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

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

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Property Foreclosure

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

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

AGENDA 6: Solstice Festival Foundation Contract

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

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

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

AGENDA 7: New Planning Commission Member

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

AGENDA 8: New Planning Commission Member

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

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

AGENDA 9: Safety Deposit Signatory

Need 2 new signatures. Mary Kalbach plus one.

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

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

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

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

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


Fire & Safety:

Parks & Rec Commission:

Employee Relations:

Budget, Finance & Audit:

Policies, Procedures & Internal Controls:

Public Input 8:25 p.m.

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

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

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

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


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

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

A New Era for the Elberta Solstice Festival

In Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, Elberta Solstice Festival, Gov't Watch, Village Money Situation on May 4, 2015 at 11:08 am


By Emily Votruba

In the space of a couple of weeks straddling April and May, Solstice Fest 2015 went from being on, to off, to back on again.

On April 15, Bill Soper, chair of the Solstice Committee, and Diane Jenks, village council president, had a discussion, based on advice from State Treasury officials, that led to them canceling Solstice. I posted this to the Alert Facebook page that day: “BREAKING: According to chief Solstice organizer and Parks & Recreation Commission member (and council member) Bill Soper, Solstice Fest is canceled this year. Soper spoke with Diane Jenks, who spoke with State officials. It is illegal for a municipality to hold a revenue-generating festival. Were an outside organization to step up and run the festival, it could be held in the Village. Elberta is under intense state scrutiny because of its deficit situation, and village officials are learning all kinds of things they didn’t know before about state regulations.”

A flurry of discussion followed in comments.

Within a few days, Bill Soper, Joshua Herren (longtime Solstice volunteer), Betsy Mas, and Frederik Stig-Nielsen had registered with the State as a nonprofit corporation: Elberta Solstice Foundation (ESF). Jenks asked me (I am currently the main Village web page updater) to replace an announcement I had been asked to post saying the fest was canceled with a note that it would go on under ESF’s auspices.

As of the end of April, ESF did not yet have 501(c)3 status, but that is their intention. In an April 29 email reply to me, Stig-Nielsen, who received his Michigan attorney’s license this year, wrote: “Elberta Solstice Foundation is registered with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs as a ‘domestic nonprofit corporation.’ We decided to incorporate as a nonprofit because we want donors, sponsors, volunteers, participants and the community at large to feel secure that we are not doing this for our own personal gain, and that none of the benefits or profits will inure to any board members or shareholders. Any money that is raised is therefore secure from any impropriety, as our articles of incorporation specifically prohibit (in accordance with IRS standards) such a trickle down of economic or other benefit to the members of the corporation. As far as 501c3 federal tax exempt status goes, we have not yet applied, but are in the process of preparing our application.”

The Village’s contacts at State Treasury had advised Jenks and Council that it is illegal for a municipality to hold a festival such as Solstice. Such events must be run by outside organizations. Solstice was initially run by the Elberta Economic Development Corporation, of which Diane Jenks was a member. After council decided to dissolve the EDC, the Parks and Recreation Commission started running the festival. Several members of Parks and Rec, including Bill Soper, had been active in making the festival possible since the very beginning, and having the Commission run it seemed perfectly natural. No one had any idea that there was a law we were breaking. Under the leadership of Jen Wilkins, a P&R member, Solstice had three successful years, during which it raised revenue rather than just breaking even. The Parks and Recreation Commission currently has about $20,000 in its bank account that is Solstice revenue, some of which, up until early spring, the Commission had intended for use funding Solstice.

Early on this year there had been concerns about how Solstice would come together, after the departure of Jen Wilkins from council, Solstice Committee, and Parks & Rec in September. I personally had decided to pull back from involvement in the festival because of increased work obligations. Bill Soper was confident that he could pull it off, but as of the April Parks and Recreation meeting, it seemed clear to me that much work remained to be done. Cathy Anderson, a member of Solstice Committee and Parks and Rec treasurer, and a member of the Budget Finance and Audit Committee, had expressed concerns about there not being a detailed proposal in place for this year’s festival or any kind of organizational time line. She was unable to make it to the April meeting, but had asked that we hold a vote on whether or not to hold Solstice Festival for real. We did not hold that vote.

The Village is still in a crisis-level budget deficit situation—about $600,000 short in its General Fund Balance. And the Deficit Elimination Plan the Village submitted to the State last year has been rejected. The newly elected (2014) council is saddled with the responsibility of coming up with an acceptable DEP plan and developing and maintaining policies and procedures to cure past improprieties. If the Village fails to produce an acceptable plan and level of progress toward tightening the ship, the possibility of Emergency Manager takeover is real.

In all this, transparency and avoiding the appearance of conflict of interest is crucial. But in a tiny community like ours, inevitably, people wear many hats. I, for example, am currently the secretary of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Bill Soper is a council member and a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. ESF is legally a separate entity from the Village, but Soper is a member of ESF. This means that Soper may want to recuse himself from voting on ESF related Solstice matters both at council and at Parks and Recreation meetings.

This morning I received this message from Diane Jenks:

“The Elberta Solstice Festival Contract will be presented at a meeting at the community building at 401 First Street Elberta Mi. 5:30 Tuesday May 5,2015 It is not a special council meeting. Council, BFA [Budget Finance and Audit] Committee and Parks and Rec are invited to attend. The Contract with Elberta Solstice Foundation will go before Council at the May meeting and by previewing and input from the governing bodies we can make recommendations to council. This is the first time a private party will be renting the whole park and I hope it will be a positive experience for the village….”

On Thursday May 14 at 7, Parks and Rec holds its regular meeting (also in the Community Building), and we will review a proposal by ESF concerning use of Village Solstice materials/equipment/signage, etc., all of which is Village property, and much of it was created by volunteers who want assurance that their work will be used to help the Village. The Commission may well decide to use this as an opportunity to generate some revenue by selling or renting some of the equipment. With Solstice slated for the third weekend in June, it seems awfully late to be sorting this all out, and some feathers are ruffled, to say the least. But making this transition in as orderly a fashion as possible, with respect for the concerns of all the stakeholders, while making it clear to the State that is really is a complete transition, is vitally important. I have nothing against Solstice Fest, and deeply hope it can go on. But if the transition can’t be made smoothly and thoroughly and fairly, I’d rather see it wait till next year.

*Corrections/additions made after the initial posting are in bold type

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


—DRAFT Minutes—

—FINAL Minutes—


February 19, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||


It’s Budget Time

In Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Village Money Situation on January 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Offer feedback on the budget to the Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee by contacting committee member Cathy Anderson at

Download/view: The Proposed Village of Elberta Budget, prepared by the Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee (DRAFT)

Budget Hearing 2015

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


—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].


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.


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



December 18, 2014 • 7 PM

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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


—DRAFT Minutes—

November 20, 2014 • 7 PM

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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 »