By SCOT PEARSON
At the last Raymond City Council meeting (June 15) the short agenda lasted close to 30 minutes in dispensing with city business for another two weeks.
The approval of $722,495 was spent in the meeting for payroll, claims and expenditures. That, and the approval of previous meeting minutes, meant it was time for new business.
A few members of the community attended the proceedings representing the Timberland Library that would be mentioned during Mayor Jason Dunsmoor's comments at the end of the meeting.
The only agenda item, the Raymond City Park Bench Policy, was approved and will put into action an update on how the city will approve and allow benches in the city limits.
During Department Head Reports, Fire Chief Todd Strozyk noted how busy the Raymond Fire Department had been recently.
"We have been attending quite a few car wrecks in the past couple of weeks and we would like to caution people to be cautious while driving," said Chief Strozyk.
The chief also noted that the accidents had a few minor injuries with no fatalities and that people just need to slow down a little bit. The chief also mentioned that the fire department has also been very busy with dry grass and brush fires.
"It is starting to get dry out and people need to understand the dangers of fire, and above all people need to be careful out there," concluded the chief. He also noted later that while it has not been yet received, there is expected to be a burn ban released in the very near future. "This is about the time of year that a burn ban will be in effect."
Chief Strozyk also noted that backyard burning was not allowed in the city limits, but those just outside can have small debris fires. "But when the burn ban comes into effect no one can burn," noted Strozyk.
Public Works Director M. Dean Parsons brought to the attention that Rognlins is looking to get started on the decommissioning of the South Bend Lagoons and wanted to start before the contract was officially awarded. Director Parsons explained that an early start would allow the contracting firm the ability to get a head start on the drying process that needs to happen before the real work begins. Parsons further noted that he had conferred with City Attorney Will Penoyar, and that Rognlins would be working at their own risk should the contract for their services should fall through.
Public Works was asking the council to allow Mayor Dunsmoor to sign the prework agreement so that it could be forwarded to the South Bend City Council, who will meet next week to get their approval and the job can get started, if the South Bend City Council is also in agreement with the "work before pay" agreement.
"If they do the work and the project gets canceled due to cost estimates or for any reason, they (Rognlins) are on the hook for any money they have spent up to that time," explained Mayor Dunsmoor.
Council member Ian Farrell made the motion to allow Mayor Dunsmoor to sign an agreement with Rognlins for the early work project, the second was given by member Betty Sovergian and the vote was 3-1 for approval with member Vicki Flemetis voting against the motion.
The motion passed and will allow Rognlins to move forward to the city of South Bend for like approval.
City Clerk/Treasure Hester Gilleland brought to the attention of conflicting city ordinances and Raymond city codes that are currently in existence dealing with door-to-door solicitations.
"It has always been my understanding that the city of Raymond, the citizens of Raymond, do not want door-to-door salesmen," informed Gilleland.
She noted that she has been looking at three specific city ordinances, 548 and 556 as well as chapter 9.64 of the Raymond City Code advising council that some work was needed to set the record straight in allowing or disallowing door-to-door solicitation within the city limits. Gilleland also noted that the city had been receiving a few phone calls about the matter and the conflicting codes.
Though there was some small discussion that the city did allow some permitting, it was identified that the issue will be placed on a future agenda for council members and that the topic needed to be addressed.
During the Mayors Report, Dunsmoor spoke on three topics that will impact residents in the near future. The first item was a proposal for a second city water tank.
"It is not that the old one is in bad shape; it is that we really can not perform maintenance like we should with only one water tank," noted Mayor Dunsmoor.
The topic of a second water tank, while not really new, has been in discussion at the city for several years, and now it looks like a design, partial possible funding and a location is all lined up.
With an estimated cost of around $3 million dollars to include initial engineering design, property procurement and preparation and the tank, the mayor was asking the city council for their approval to move forward with the first steps in making a new 2 million gallon tank a reality for the city.
"It will be a concrete tank located in Riverdale," noted the mayor.
The location will better serve the city and the additional capacity will allow both the city and fire departments a better water reserve and improve functionality. The process, approved unanimously by the council, should get things started this year with a possible project completion in 2017. The project could be partially funded by an existing low interest loan and grant funding. The initial cost to get things rolling is estimated to be around $364,000 for design and engineering.
"The engineering firm wanted to start in 2017, but I told them that it would not do and we needed to get things started right away," stated Mayor Dunsmoor.
The next item brought out by the mayor was the replacement of water meters. In previous meetings it was suggested to have the meter reading system as automated as possible, which is now starting to be a reality. The plan is to replace about 80% of existing manually read meters with a radio reading system and hopefully at the start of the new year, have a monthly billing system in place for residents.
"The first batch of 120 meters have been received and city crews will start installing the new meters as soon as next week," said Mayor Dunsmoor.
With various meter sizes in the system, it will take time to replace the majority of the targeted meters; some will still have to be manually read, but the number is not cost effective to change those few meters at this time. Those with one-inch meters and smaller will be the first to be retrofitted.
It is planned that future mailings and/or notifications explaining the turnover will be coming by September if not earlier. It is also noted that a possible campaign to suggest auto-pay may also be brought forward.
The last item during the Mayors Report was the possible annexation of the Timberland Library.
With an election coming up this year, it is possible that citizens will find a special ballot asking for the annexation of the Timberland Library, as Raymond is the only city in the county to still be supported under a city budget.
With the passing of a similar annexation held in Winlock, (Lewis County) in 2014, that will have their annexation under the new policy starting in 2016, Raymond will be the only city out of the 19 city libraries remaining to utilize their cities general fund in support of library services. The annexation will move the cost of services to Raymond city households in the form of property tax, allowing the city to use the funds currently spent on the library to be used for other items.
Council members approved a motion to move forward with negotiations with Timberland Regional Libraries, which will also have to be brought to the Pacific County Commissioners.
The next Raymond City Council meeting is scheduled for July 6 at 6 pm at the Raymond City Hall.
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