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Vader Council Meeting: Name Changing, Marijuana and Street Grants

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On August 13, at 6:05 pm, with all members in attendance except Councilman Justin Olson, the Vader Council called their meeting to order. Taking the lead of the itinerary was the Mayor's report.

In this report, Mayor Kenneth Smith updated the council and audience on the National Day of Service and stated that Vader is a third year recipient for their involvement in this event started by President George W. Bush in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Following this statement, Mayor Smith also reported that there are three projects merging for the cleanup of the local park. Among these projects are a chipping event, weed eating, and blackberry vine trimming beginning at 9 am on Saturday, September 12. It was then that Mayor Smith stated that a member of the state audit committee is in town and is approaching day three of her visit. When he was taken by surprise of this notification, City Clerk Jill Nielson stated that this audit was "triggered by federal grant expenditures."

Next was the approval of the agenda and the minutes for the meeting. With these items quickly approved, the council sought the passing of the first half of the 2015 expenditure total, which added up to around $39,000.

Moving onto public comments, resident Mike Parsons came to the microphone. Before he moved to Vader last year, he was hesitant to buy a house due to the idea of living in a town named Vader.

"When I found out that there was a chance of it changing to Little Falls ... (I was) extremely excited." As he continued his point, he brought forth the fears of various community members he has talked with about the possibility of the name change. These fears include changes in "postage, mailing addresses, not getting the IRS tax bills." Another issue with the name change that Parsons brought up, are the road signs. He claimed that there are 35 road signs with the name of Vader on them. He continued by proposing the Vader-Toledo Rd. stay the same. By keeping these the same, 13 signs would be left with just Vader.

Parsons then went on to say that "nine of those signs are just about due to be replaced anyway." At the end of his three minutes, Parsons returned to his seat.
Speaking after Parsons was resident Judy Costello. She suggested that after the September clean-up day, the dumping area should be given actual sections for the discarded material; such as an area for grass being separate from an area for limbs or other wastes.

With the closing of public comment, the council moved into the agenda items of the night. The first item being for the council to make an official motion to consider bid document and advertisement for: Phase 2 Private Side Sewer Replacement Project (CDBG). At this time, Councilman Kevin Flynn made the motion that was required, and Councilman Joe Schey seconded. The motion was carried.

Transitioning to the next item was the topic of Ordinance 2015-06, the findings of facts for a temporary ban on marijuana. With these findings, Councilman Flynn spoke up about his meeting with a drug counselor. During this meeting, Flynn spoke that the "marijuana that is being produced today, produces over 30 parts of THC." The drug component THC leads to long-term effects, such as the shutting down and evacuation of brain cells.

"I've heard all the bad stuff and I've heard some people say the good stuff, but these are the facts presented to me by a drug counselor." With approval from all council members, the motion of the banning of marijuana carried.

The third item on the agenda was for the council members to consider the proposed Employee Salary Schedule. With this schedule, the council had already approved the form; now all that was left was for the council to approve the numbers of the pay schedule. The new graph showed a set up of five-year increments. This would allow new employees to start at lower wages and increase by the time served. As the council members read through the chart, they were reminded that these numbers could be open for modification, but also had to be warned of the fairness rule and not to pick favorite employees to be bumped up just because they are thought to have earned it. After much discussion, Councilman Andy Wilson voiced that he would like to see this motion set in place for the future generations. As this topic came to an end, Councilman Schey moved to have the employees put into a certain payment position as of September 1, with Councilman Flynn seconding this motion. Councilman Mark Fenison said that this decision is a "good step".

Up next, Councilman Schey gave a lengthy report on the street grants. He stated that the final application would be finished this week and on the Mayor's desk to be signed by next Thursday. In these grants, many streets within Vader would be repaved, curbs would be curved at the right height, sidewalks would be repaved, and much more. After the signing of the application, the council will find out in November if the two grants for this town will be approved. With the closing of this topic, Mayor Smith reported that he must leave the meeting and left Councilman Flynn in charge of the remaining agenda items.

With Mayor Pro Tem Flynn in charge, he told the council and small audience that the next topic for the council members to consider would be Resolution 13-2015. In this resolution, it is stated that Vader will run their own inspections so that the county will not be in charge like usual. As the council began brief banter, City Clerk Nielson reminded them that they can adjust line items at any meeting. Following this statement, Councilman Fenison moved to approve Resolution 13-2015, member Schey seconded and no members opposed. The second part of this, Resolution 14-2015, was also approved. Approaching the next topic to consider was Resolution 15-2015, the purchase and sale agreement, member Schey moved to have the Mayor approve this agreement by September 14.

As the final topic approached, Mayor Pro Tem Flynn read from the Rental Housing Permitting and Licensing document. It is reported that many cities have been working on this project to eliminate slums and protect those who own and rent houses. As member Schey read the paper in front of him, he voiced that he felt the "listed prices are deceptive." Flynn then clarified that those listed are in an "or" option not an "and" situation. With the council approval that this topic remain up for discussion, Flynn adjourned the meeting. The next Vader Council Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 27 at 6 p.m.

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