Council approves two percent cost of living increase

Posted December 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm

Miller’s City Council met Monday, Dec. 16.

Bill Lewellen, Electric Department, reported the electric upgrade project is completed. The department will be taking out old wire, transformers and poles, and he questioned where to store the materials.

Lewellen said the department is doing end-of-year inventory. He reported $22,000 of the electric project bond has not been spent, and noted it could be used toward final costs associated with the project and removal of old electric materials.

Shannon Speck, police chief, said the patrol car, which had been damaged in a car-deer accident, has been repaired and is again in service. An extra officer will provide more traffic safety coverage December 13-January 1, Speck said, and a grant will cover expenses.

He also has received a Department of Highway Safety grant, which will pay 80 percent for new radar units.

Speck said he wants to update three City ordinances, and to have the City attorney check them over. He requested updates for ordinances regarding noise, Main Street snow removal, and parking of vehicles/trailers, etc. on streets during winter months.

Finance Officer Sheila Coss reported on City tax collection and on canceling the City’s 800 number, which was never used. The new computer system seems to be working well, and better meets the City’s needs. The council approved her attendance at an annual report workshop, to be held in Huron.

Romelle Fortin, director of the Family Crisis Center, Redfield, and Penny Ihnen, rural advocate, reported on activities over the past year. The Family Crisis Center covers Spink, Faulk and Hand counties. Fortin reported the center receives an average of 31 crisis calls a month, 60 advocacy calls, and responds to sexual assault reports.

Fortin said the center has opened a new six-bedroom shelter, which also has office space. The building was donated, and to date, has provided 1,422 “bed days” this year to adults and children. Assistance is free and confidential.

The crisis center works with law enforcement, churches, and provides awareness programs to schools. Fortin said Hand and Spink counties run “neck and neck” for calls regarding violence, with fewer calls from Faulk County.

The council approved Resolution #2013-14, which endorses the Family Crisis Center to officially serve residents of the City of Miller.

Sheriff Doug DeBoer discussed the City having a “community information system,” similar to the Nixle system, which provides information on a countywide level.

DeBoer said such a system could provide information about water or electric shutoffs, snow alerts, weather information, and in general anything that deals with public safety. The service is free, and those wishing the system would sign up for text, web or e-mail alerts.

DeBoer said he would help set up a system for the City. It will be considered at the January 6 council meeting.

Approval was given for the final pay request from Thompson Electric, for $196,172.53, electric project, and the council approved its certificate of completion.

Final pay request and certificate of completion from Strata will be considered at the January 6 meeting.

A quit-claim deed from the Miller School District to the City of Miller was tabled until the end-of-year City meeting, because wording on the deed said “County of Lincoln,” rather than “County of Hand.” Once rectified, the City can approve the deed.

A building permit was approved for the First Baptist Church, for a roof.

Second readings were held for Ordinance 649 and 650. Ordinance 649 for 2014 annual appropriations was approved, as was Ordinance 650, for revised municipal utility rates, which will go into effect for the month of January 2014.

Discussion was held about cost of living increases for City employees for 2014. Although a three percent increase was included in the City’s proposed budget, council member Tony Rangel noted Social Security recipients will get only a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment, and suggested a smaller increase for City workers.

Councilwoman Mary Johnson suggested a two percent increase, and Mayor Ron Blachford stated he would propose a two percent increase. Johnson made the motion for a two percent increase, seconded by Joe Zeller, and the motion carried unanimously.

Council members watched a video dealing with harassment in the workplace…and the fact that many forms of harassment not only create a hostile work environment, but are unlawful.

An end-of-year meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 30 at 12:10 p.m. The first meeting for 2014 will be January 6 at 7 p.m..