Miller’s City Council held its first meeting of the month May 6.
Outgoing council member Lorin Johnson was presented a certificate of appreciation for his 10 years on the board by Mayor Ron Blachford.
After reconvening as the new council, oaths of office were administered to Mayor Blachford; Kristin Hargens, Ward 1, replacing Johnson; Joe Zeller, Ward 2; and Jim Odegaard, Ward 3. Sheila Coss was appointed Finance Officer and Shannon Speck was appointed Chief of Police. The council elected Tony Rangel as council president, and Jim Odegaard as vice president. Appointment of council committees was approved as printed.
Fire chief Steve Resel reported repair of the heating system in the fire hall has been completed. Firefighter classes have been completed, with 20 firefighters being certified, including 10 from the Miller department.
Resel said the department has been called to one large fire and several smaller ones in the past month.
The department has received a 50-50 grant through the state for bunker gear, and Resel said the department has also received generous donations that will go toward the fire department’s share.
He said Miller’s department is prepared to respond to requests from West River to fight fires if called.
The council approved appointing Wayne Ames as deputy police chief, and approved the recommendation of a dollar an hour pay increase.
Discussion was held regarding a raise for Rachel Heezen, who is deputy finance officer. Mayor Blachford recommended that the Finance Office Committee meet and give a recommendation at the next meeting.
Blachford also said that raises should be considered once a year, and offices should plan accordingly.
Toby Morris, Northland Securities, who arranged the bonding for the City’s electric project, was present to discuss the surcharge on the City’s electric rates. Morris said the City needs to charge a bit more as a “safety net,” and the surcharge has to be “adjusted up” on all accounts. It was emphasized that the 10 percent increase is only on the surcharge already in place, and is not an increase in meter charge or energy rate. The council approved the increase.
Bill Lewellen, electric department head, discussed who pays for security lights. There is a disparity of charges, and some light usage was not being charged at all. He noted some are “neighborhood” lights, shared by a group of homes, but there is no set standard regarding who pays for the service. The council approved a motion to charge $6 per month if the light usage is registered on a “resident” meter, and $10 per month if it is a city meter.
Lynn Harrell met with the council stating the Harrell Brothers are planning to add more storage and a machine shop to the west of the Nelson’s offices, and that area and adjacent areas need an improved storm sewer system. He proposed that the Harrells would pay for an updated storm sewer if the City would maintain it. The council discussed annexation of the area, and zoning, but no decision was reached.
Building permits were approved for Dennis Cundy (Builders Cashway) for an addition to a building, and for Joe and Vicky Fanning to remove a house.
Mayor Blachford discussed Department of Transportation maintenance, and said work will be done on the highways through town this summer. Awnings on downtown businesses are considered an “encroachment” of DOT regulations, but the awnings may remain until they would have to be replaced.
After considering costs for cell phone plans, the council decided that City personnel who need cell phones for job-related calls will be responsible for purchasing their own cell phone, and will be reimbursed by the City at $50 per month. Phones for Water Department use (Jim Bonebright, Terry Manning) will be reimbursed $75 per month, because they require access to additional data and can shut off water via their phones in case of an emergency. The plans must be in force by June 1.
The council approved the attendance of Sheila Coss and Rachel Heezen at Finance Officer’s School June 11-14 in Pierre.
The council also discussed employee vacation accrual, vacation leave, maternity leave, and family and medical leave policies.
The next meeting will be Monday, May 20 at 7 p.m.