VILLAGE OF KALKASKA
MINUTES OF A REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2017 IN THE VILLAGE COUNCIL CHAMBERS, 200 HYDE STREET, KALKASKA, MICHIGAN, 49646.
CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
President Sieting called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
PRESENT: President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White.
STAFF PRESENT: Scott Yost, Village Manager; Angie Koon, Village Clerk; Mark Baars, WWTP Supervisor; Jennifer Standerfer, Village Treasurer; Helen Artress, Department of Public Safety Administrative Assistant.
PUBLIC PRESENT: Mickey Miller, Eric Peterson, Ken Hillman, Mike Winter, Connie Winter, Veronica Wolfe, Dave Wolfe, Cheryl Hiller, Mel Hill, Anna Bell, Dave Bell, Lon Husbands, Jodi Willison, Greg McLain, Margaret Beebe, Jody Prestine, Patrick Prestine, Kip Scott, Sandy Joslin, Michael Oosterhart, Danielle Seabolt, Jeff Seabolt, David Hogerheide, Vicki Hogerheide, Virginia Yost, Francis Kelly, Kris McLain, Derek Hogerheide, Kelly Hall, Robert Hall, Dawn Kuhns, Kevin Rogols, Robert Burgin, Gail Burkhart, Andy Bratton, Ken Coughlin, Brenda Neely, Diana Shafer and Dennis Mansfield.
Andy Bratton started with a prayer and President Sieting led with the Pledge of Allegiance.
APPROVAL OF REGULAR AGENDA
Motion by White, second by Needham, to approve the agenda as presented. Motion carried on a voice vote.
Motion by Sanborn, second by Dupuie, to approve as presented. Motion carried on a voice vote.
PUBLIC HEARING – To hear public comments on a proposed increase to Village property taxes.
Motion by Needham, second by White, to open the Public Hearing. Motion carried on a voice vote. The Public Hearing was opened at 6:05 p.m.
Village Attorney Jeff Jocks explained that a Judgment Levy was filed in order to collect damages awarded to Virginia Thomas. Jocks stated that the Village is now obligated to place this amount on the property taxes, as it is a procedural requirement as a result of the Judgment Levy. Jocks also stated that the Truth in Taxation Hearing is required by the State of Michigan for this instance.
Lon Husbands stated he was upset at the proposed increase to property taxes as he feels the existing tax amounts are already high. Husbands asked why the judgment wasn’t paid before getting to this point, and why the Village continued to fight this case after the initial loss. Husbands also asked why something wasn’t done sooner regarding the healthcare fund. Husbands inquired how the Village was able to increase the Police Department if there was a shortage in funds. Husbands stated he feels it is ridiculous for the taxpayers to assume this cost.
Danielle Seabolt asked about a long-term plan with other pending lawsuits, and what the effect will be if these cases are lost. Jeff Jocks stated it is unclear where the Village funds will be over time, and a Judgment Levy for any future case losses may be a possibility.
David Hogerheide asked whether bankruptcy was an option, and if the Village was given the opportunity to make payments on the judgment it was ordered to disburse. Hogerheide asked if discussions took place regarding the Village Police Department merging with the Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Department as a cost-saving measure. President Sieting stated that this was discussed at length in the past, and has been rejected as an option.
Sandy Joslin stated that Traverse City is currently selling properties to recover funds, and asked whether the Village had looked at this as an option.
Eric Peterson stated he was looking for details on the proposed property tax increase. Manager Yost stated that the Thomas Judgment Levy would propose to increase the Village taxes by 3.8549 mills.
Margaret Beebe stated it was a much different scenario when she was working years ago but, with the increased cost of living and reduced income, she is not sure how she can manage the proposed increase in property taxes.
President Sieting stated that concerns would be addressed after the Public Hearing.
Trustee Kelly stated she is unhappy about this as her taxes will be increasing as well.
Ken Hillman asked how the issue got to this point, and stated he didn’t understand how retirement contracts could be revoked. Jocks stated that the fund created to finance retiree healthcare insurance was depleted, which led to the discontinuance of these benefits as the Village’s general fund was not set up to pay for these expenses. The lawsuits followed, and a judgement was awarded by a jury on the Thomas case.
Robert Hall stated he feels the current Village Council is doing the best job they can with this issue, and that is all he can expect of them.
Diana Shafer asked whether the proposed tax increase was a one-time occurrence. Manager Yost stated that the additional mills are for the Thomas case only.
Lon Husbands again asked why the Village continued to fight this case after the initial loss. Manager Yost stated that the outcome of any lawsuit is always unknown at the outset.
Trustee Dupuie stated that Kalkaska is not the only community in this situation. President Sieting agreed that this is a national problem.
Robert Burgin wondered whether the issue occurring in other communities also involved funds that were not tied to the general fund.
Motion by Needham, second by Dupuie, to close the Public Hearing. Motion carried on a voice vote. The Public Hearing was closed at 6:20 p.m.
Consider Adoption of Resolution 2017-018 Approval of Additional Millage – Trustee White read the resolution being considered. White explained that, in order to offset the additional levy, the Village will be reducing the General, Major Street and Local Street operating mills. These reductions equal a wash to Village residents, who will see no increase in their Village property taxes. Manager Yost explained where the funds came from to reduce these operating mills.
Motion by Dupuie, second by Ellis, to adopt Resolution 2017-018. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
CONSIDERATION OF TRIAL OR SETTLEMENT STRATEGY WITH COUNSEL REGARDING PENDING LITIGATION (CLOSED SESSION PER SECTION 152.268(e) OF THE OPEN MEETINGS ACT
Motion by Kelly, second by Dupuie, to enter into Closed Session pursuant to MCL 15.268(e) of the Open Meetings Act to discuss the pending health insurance litigation strategy because discussion in an open meeting would have a detrimental financial effect on the litigating and settlement position of the Village of Kalkaska. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried. Closed Session began at 6:25 p.m.
RETURN TO OPEN SESSION
Motion by Needham, second by Sanborn, to return to Open Session. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried. Open Session resumed at 6:52 p.m.
David Hogerheide stated he appreciates the job Council does, and apologized for attending meetings in the past only to complain. Hogerheide expressed his concern over the future lawsuits, and how they will be handled if cases are lost by the Village. Hogerheide asked whether merging the Police Department with the Kalkaska County Sheriff’s Department would save the Village money.
Trustee White stated that the discussion regarding consolidation of law enforcement services went on for some time, and many considerations were taken into account. White stated it was concluded that coverage within the Village by the Sheriff’s Department would be difficult. White stated that Village acted well within the budget to proceed with Police Department expansions, and funds were wisely spent to well-equip the department. White further stated that future industry coming into the Village will rely on and occupy law enforcement.
President Sieting stated he believes the County Commissioners’ priorities lie in other areas, and he lacks faith to put the protection of Village citizens in their hands. Sieting stated that, while he cannot discuss the other pending lawsuits at this time, he believes citizens’ attendance at meetings holding local government responsible is crucial.
Francis Kelly stated that the Village must become a city in order to utilize County Sheriff’s Department services. Village officials disagreed with this.
Mike Oosterhart stated he believes this is an appropriate time for the Village to address Food Sovereignty, which will be discussed under New Business. Oosterhart explained that his farm was shut down by USDA for not having a warehousing license. He is not able to operate his farm, nor is he able to participate in the Kalkaska Farmer’s Market. Oosterhart believes the State of Michigan considers his operation a warehouse based on a technicality. Oosterhart stated that, if a Food Sovereignty regulation is adopted, he could serve at the Farmer’s Market freely and uninhibited. Oosterhart stated he feels it is time to make freedom legal again, and would like to see a change for local farmers initiated. Oosterhart stated that this would create an increase in commerce, which is important for the community.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – None
Consider Adoption of Resolution 2017-019 Kalkaska County Fair Banner – Motion by Needham, second by Sanborn, to adopt Resolution 2017-019. Motion carried on a voice vote.
Consider Adoption of Resolution 2017-019 to Authorize Closure of Fourth Street for Annual Commission on Aging Picnic – Motion by White, second by Dupuie, to adopt Resolution 2017-019. Motion carried on a voice vote.
Consider Adoption of Ordinance 2017-007 Amendment to Medical Marijuana Zoning – Motion by Ellis, second by White, to adopt Ordinance 2017-007. A roll call vote was then taken:
Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
Consider Adoption of Ordinance 2017-008 Amendment to Zoning Code – Motion by Ellis, second by Dupuie, to adopt Ordinance 2017-008. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
Consider Creation of Food Sovereignty Committee as Recommended by Village DDA – The Food Sovereignty Committee will consist of Trustees Dupuie, Ellis and Kelly.
Consider Approval of Pay Draw No. 5 (Rural Development Water and Sewer Project) – Motion by Sanborn, second by Dupuie, to approve Pay Draw No. 5 contingent upon Rural Development approval. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
Consider Approval of Change Order No. 2 (Rural Development Water and Sewer Project – Motion by White, second by Sanborn, to approve Change Order No. 2 contingent upon Rural Development approval. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
Motion by Sanborn, second by Needham, to approve the bills as presented in the amount of $569,588.29. A roll call vote was then taken: Ayes – President Sieting and Trustees Dupuie, Ellis, Kelly, Needham, Sanborn and White; Nays – None; Absent – None. Motion carried.
REPORTS FROM COUNCIL COMMITTEES
Finance Committee – President Sieting stated the committee reviewed payroll reconciliations, monthly payroll registers, bank reconciliations and journal entries.
Parks and Recreation Committee – Trustee White stated the committee met on May 23, 2017, and they discussed a proposed 4-H Family Fitness event to take place at Railroad Square. White reported that, due to language constraints between the Village and MSU extension on the Hold Harmless document, the event will not be taking place here. White stated the committee also discussed a proposed benefit bike race, and parties are currently working on an alternate bike route for the event. White stated discussion on the Drive-In Movie was tabled, with a movie schedule to be posted later in the week.
Personnel Committee – Trustee Needham reported that the committee met with Dan Emmendorfer of Securities America, who proposed the adoption of a 457 Plan with FTJ Fund Choice. Needham explained that there is no cost to the Village to adopt this plan, and it would be optional to employees who wished to participate. The draft Plan Document will not be available until the next Village Council meeting.
Motion by Needham, second by Sanborn, to table to the next meeting until the draft document is in hand. Motion carried on a voice vote.
Trustee Needham stated other items discussed by the Personnel Committee will be presented at the next meeting as well.
REPORTS FROM VILLAGE OFFICERS
The May 2017 report was provided by Lieutenant Artress.
CLEAN WATER REPORT
The May 2017 report was provided by Clean Water Plant Supervisor Mark Baars.
Manager Yost gave an update on the Rural Development project. Yost reported that the new water services will begin to be installed this week, with restoration and paving of roads to take place soon.
Yost advised that the contracts have been signed for the SAW Grant and the project, which includes improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, are underway.
Yost announced that June 14, 2017 is Flag Day; and June 24, 2017 is the Kalkaska Airport Fly-In (where a static display by the Coast Guard is planned). Yost also announced that Senator Gary Peters will be at the Village Office on July 5, 2017. More information on this will follow.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT – President Sieting stated he appreciates the public’s input at Village Council meetings.
Patrick Prestine stated he believes installing electric conduit at Railroad Square was a great idea and demonstrated forward thinking.
David Hogerheide asked for clarification on the amendment to the Medical Marijuana Zoning Ordinance. Manager Yost replied that the amendment aligns the ordinance with new state law, which goes into effect on December 1, 2017, as well as strengthens the existing ordinance. Yost further elaborated that the amended ordinance prohibits certain activities. Trustee White added that the ordinance is now more stringent than State regulations.
Dave Bell asked whether the water and sewer rates will increase once the service upgrades are completed. Manager Yost stated there are no anticipated increases at this time, though future rate changes are unknown.
Robert Burgin asked whether the water quality will improve. Manager Yost stated he believes they will as old infrastructure is being eliminated.
With no further business coming before this Council, President Sieting adjourned the meeting at 7:25 p.m.
Recorded By: Angie Koon, Village Clerk