Special to The Gardner News
Gardner city council had a fairly light agenda but discussed a wide range of topics in their April 3 meeting at city hall. The meeting began with a mayoral proclamation designating April as Fair Housing Month.
IMPC + Title 8 Code
Larry Powell, business and economic development director, gave staff presentation on the International Property Management Code (IMPC) 2012 as a method to update and enhance Title 8 Property Maintenance in the city code.
“We felt that it was the easiest way to implement the code was just to adopt it in its entirety and then have the most strict definition apply, and that’s the way the ordinance is written up, to handle any discrepancies or differences between those two codes,” Powell told council.
According to the joint recommendation of the codes division of the police department and the business and economic development department, adoption of IMPC would “give the city a more complete set of tools.”
Powell stressed that the code established minimum maintenance requirements only for existing buildings.
“This is a maintenance code, not a new building code,” he said.
Powell mentioned numerous area cities that are using IMPC.
He said the city purchased the code in 2013, but never used it, so there is no cost involved. The governing body only need adopt it.
They did so via approval of Ordinance No. 2545 with a 4-0 vote. Lee Moore, council member, was absent.
Four people came to the podium to offer public comment to council.
Dennis Meyer, assistant fire chief, Fire District #1, requested a presentation and discussion be placed on the agenda for the next council meeting.
The fire district wants to present and discuss a fee schedule for services they provide to new construction.
“We’d like to present to you on April 17 a fee structure and get your approval to start applying that to the contractors and builders,” Meyer said.
Jason Camis, president-Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce, spoke to council about the recent enforcement of two hour parking limits downtown.
Camis reported feedback he’d received from citizens and business owners. He said some complained and some celebrated.
Camis said some didn’t like it because they had been surprised.
“In the future, anything like this comes up with businesses, we’d be happy to go out and talk to businesses ahead of time, let them now it’s coming,” he said.
Camis said the chamber would be happy to participate in discussions if parking is something to be explored in future downtown development planning.
Later in council updates, Jim Pruetting, chief of police, also spoke about the parking enforcement.
“Our enforcement was complaint driven. Parking downtown is not one of our priorities, so we wouldn’t go down and just randomly enforce it,” Pruetting said.
He went on to provide council with detail about the complaints and said he had talked to business owners. He said there was no easy solution.
“We’re not going down there blanketing the area day after day – this was a response to a complaint and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll do our best to give warnings and notify people if we know where the problem originates from,” said Pruetting.
The third public comment was from Matthew Wright, who appeared on behalf of the Double Gate Homeowner Association.
Wright spoke about the deterioration of sidewalks in a subdivision of 253 homes, and the city’s policy that deems the homeowners responsible for all repairs, even when damage is caused by city utilities.
“We would like to offer an opposing view and state the repairs are the responsibility of the city, as they are related directly to the failures of improper inspection by the city or by its contractor,” he said.
Wright brought photographs and said a walk through had found 150 instances of sidewalks in need of repair.
“The majority of these instances being represented are the worst of the worst, showing failures in direct relation to a storm drain, water main, fire hydrant or sewer line either directly in front of, behind or adjacent to the failing sidewalk.,” he said.
Jonathan Pelkey, patron, described street flooding problems at Waverly and Sante Fe. He said it’s been a problem for years, and the city has made attempts to fix it in the past, but the problem remains. He wanted to make council aware and said he hopes someone will look into the issue.
Chris Morrow, mayor, advised Wright and Pelkey that Michael Kramer, public works director, would follow up with them.
Maintenance Management System for utilities department
Council considered the Utility Advisory Commission’s recommendation to purchase Computer Maintenance Management Software (CMMS)
Gonzalo Garcia, utilities director, gave the staff presentation.
Kristy Harrison, council member, wanted to hear more about the benefits, and asked, “What would happen if we don’t have it?”
Garcia said now they are using Word, Excel and paper. The new system will not only generate work orders, but also follow progress, store information and provide a historical database capable of identifying trends associated with equipment failures.
By voice vote, council approved $87,300 plus taxes and shipping charges for the CMMS and a $6,724 contract with Sunguard for a Naviline Work Order interface.
Planning Commission recommended approval of final plat for Dairy Queen.
Todd Winters, council vice president, asked about the pause in demolition of the existing car wash.
Larry Powell replied that they had to wait on the gas company to come in, but demolition had resumed today.
Council approved right of way and easements on Final Plat FP-17-01 for Dairy Queen with by voice vote.
—Laura Gourley, finance director, asked for direction on financing the new police station/justice center. Time is short to prepare a referendum.
At present, no one knows exactly how much the new facility is going to cost. It’s estimated at around $12 million, but funding sources will require an exact amount.
“If it’s 11.8 or 12.2, whatever it is, that’s it. Because you’re going to levy for that. Levying more than you need is not going to be appreciated by the SEC, IRS or your citizens. Levying less than what you need can make problems of its own, so we’ve got to be moving post haste, nailing down this amount of money,” Gourley said.
Kristy Harrison, council member, suggested consulting to review the previous study done several years ago. There was consensus on that.
Gourley summed up council direction for her and the city attorney to move forward in preparing for a vote of the people this year.
—Rich Melton, council member, asked Morrow to confirm the fire district’s request to be on the agenda at the April 17 meeting. Morrow said “absolutely.”
—Melton noted the city attorneys fees were $34,000 for a recent month.
“I’m wondering at what point do we as a city start to look at if we can actually afford to have a full time lawyer here instead of one we’re paying an hourly rate to,” said Melton. He asked for thoughts of other members.
Morrow suggested including the topic in upcoming budget discussions.
Steve Shute, council president, said, “We are growing. We’ve got a lot of development projects with complex land use issues, utility issues, things like that that need to be examined, and at some point I think we’re going to have to have a full time attorney.”
Melton asked the city attorney what happens when someone leaks information from an executive session, if there was any punishment for that.
Kristy Harrison asked Dennis Meyer if the fire department would review their presentation with economic development staff before the April 17 meeting.
Harrison also asked for executive session to be scheduled April 17 to discuss the goals and performance evaluation of the city administrator. Shute voiced agreement, and Morrow said it would be on the agenda.
Shute said he would like to see a review of storm water drainage assessments.
Shute next said he wanted to state for the record that nothing happened in the executive session on March 3 that was out of bounds or a violation.
“I have four of five members of the governing body that were in that room, on this dais with me who can corroborate exactly what I’m saying,” Shute said.
—Chris Morrow said that he had heard that state grant funding for the Gardner Lake dredging had fallen through and asked Michael Kramer if it was true. Kramer confirmed it was true.