Council moves ahead with projects and tax plans

By Sarah Pridgeon

Upcoming tax questions were high on the agenda at this month’s regular meeting of the Sundance City Council. Other projects, such as the Croell Redi-Mix headquarters and vacation of a section of 12th Street, continued to move ahead.

Council members passed a motion approving the projects to be put forward on October’s ballot for a new 1% Specific Purpose Tax. These will be submitted to County Attorney Joe Baron to create a joint resolution that will return to the council for approval of all municipality and county projects.

Among the projects to be included, said Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lenz, are street improvements, sewer and water upgrades, landfill closure and other infrastructure.

An ordinance authorizing continuation of the 1 percent excise tax was also approved. This is the fifth cent tax, explained Brooks, and does not need to return to the ballot if given council approval.

The council opted not to sign a joint stipulation with DEQ to modify the Administrative Order of Consent regarding closure of the landfill. DEQ has turned this into a “moving target,” said the mayor, who did not “feel like indebting the city any further.”

Members of the council suggested it would be wise to put the decision off until next month, once DEQ has presented the facts. Lenz confirmed that the document is not actually ready to sign as work is ongoing on the verbage.

The council considered an ordinance to vacate the portion of 12th Street that sits between the school and football field, an action that was requested by the school district to facilitate plans for the new elementary building. Certain documents were still missing from the ordinance, such as a petition with signatures from landowners within 200 feet of the road.

Ken Rathbun, speaking on behalf of the school board, suggested that the council could put off the first hearing. The School Facilities Commission would just like assurance that the road will be vacated by the time it begins spending money, he said.

Since the ordinance requires three readings, the council opted to approve the first reading to demonstrate its intention to vacate. The remaining documents must be in place before the third and final reading.

The council approved a preliminary plat for the Croell Redi-Mix project, which will create a subdivision to house the first batch of lots. It was unable to move ahead with annexing and dedicating Fuller Road, however, as City Attorney Mark Hughes could not be in attendance to provide an update.

Only one bid was received for each of the three pastures awarded, each of which was approved. The council did not bid out a fourth pasture by Green Mountain Cemetery in case the fairground land swap moves ahead, said Mayor Paul Brooks.

Ernie Reinhold of Crook County Juvenile Services requested the council’s support for his program. CCJS has now operated for four years and served 87 youth, he said, but state funding is no longer available.

During the last month, CCJS’s intake has increased from two to 14 kids. Only 24 percent of kids who are involved with the program ever commits a new crime, Reinhold said.

The school and county have already given support and CCJS now needs just $13,500 each from the county and four municipalities to continue operations until July 2015. The council was unable to commit immediately, said Brooks, but would consider the request while drawing up the city budget for the next fiscal year.

Kara Ellsbury, on behalf of the City Attorney, brought up concerns with how districts are defined in the city’s zoning code. At present, she explained, residential uses are permitted in all zones, including general business and industrial.

Ellsbury suggested removing these approved uses from non-residential areas, noting that the Land Use Planning Commission had agreed that space for business is limited and that real estate would best be reserved. The council approved the changes.

The council approved a work order for Trihydro to perform semi-annual monitoring at the landfill again in 2014, as they have done for several years. The city budgeted $26,000 for this in 2013 and came in under budget, said Lenz.

Karla Greaser of Trihydro provided an update on city projects, beginning with resituating the Cole Water Tank and upgrading utilities on the industrial end of 21st Street. Trihydro has moved forward with bidding and advertising for both projects at once, said Greaser, in the hope that this will reach the same audience of contractors.

Pre-bid meetings are scheduled for Thursday, February 13. The 21st Street project meeting will take place at 10 a.m. and the Cole Tank at 1 p.m.

A change order was also approved to expand the scope of work on the Cole Tank project. The added cost covered re-bidding and part-time observation and had been included in the budget.

Trihydro is also waiting for a DEQ permit to construct for the 21st Street project and is evaluating a right-of-way dedication. The council passed a motion to approve the preliminary plat.

A survey has been finalized for the project to extend the walking path near the city park and, said Lenz, the contractors have completed the garage doors and are close to finishing electrical work on the transfer station.

Trihydro is in the process of ordering parts for the first phase of the project to install SCADA monitoring equipment on the city’s water system. The Public Works Department is making improvements in preparation for the new system, said Greaser.

In departmental reports, Police Chief Todd Fritz reported 48 calls and progress on purchasing a generator for City Hall. Public Works Director Mac Erickson was unable to attend but submitted a written report and was praised by the council for how quickly he is finding his feet in his new role.

The next regular session of the city council will take place on March 4.