Council discusses Cowboy, Christmas lighting and budget

Posted November 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Miller’s City Council met November 19, and packed quite a few agenda items in to its two-hour meeting.

Council chair Tony Rangel conducted the meeting in the mayor’s absence. He commented that he continues to see dogs running loose. “The City has a leash ordinance, and dog owners need to follow that ordinance.”

Arlen Gortmaker reported on behalf of the fire department. He had checked into the cost of bunker gear; the retail price is $2,900 per outfit, but would be $1,800 for each outfit the fire department would order. No amount was allowed in the 2013 budget for replacement gear, and Gortmaker said, as far as extra help from the city with its financial problems, “If it’s not there, it’s not there.” He did say the fire department would apply for a 50-50 grant in March, and said a representative of the fire department will report to the council on a monthly basis.

Bill Lewellen, electric department, reported 37 meters remain to be cut over to the new system, which should be completed in about two weeks. Plans are to move the substation behind city hall to the football field over the winter.

Lewellen said two more planned outages will take place, one on the east side of town and one on the west side. Discussion was held on how to alert residents, because many people have complained about the previous “planned” outages. In addition to posting notices on Facebook and the City’s website, signs will be posted on Broadway before a shut-off.

Jim Bonebright, water-sewer-airport, said the access road and parking lot at the airport have been graveled, and a wildlife fence will be installed. The floor heat in the fire hall has a leak. Bonebright said new pipes will be run overhead, rather than trying to repair the pipes under the flooring. Cost will be approximately $5,500.

He reminded the council that new water rates would go into effect January 1. Some other decisions will be made regarding charges to customers, and setting aside money in a capitol projects fund for future water/sewer projects.

Ron Hoftiezer, street department, reported the Unimog snow thrower sold for $12,000, which was a sizable amount more than he expected.

The department will put off work on the storm sewer on West Second Street until the coming year, when the water main will be re-routed around the storm sewer.

Police officer Wayne Ames said Miller officers were re-certified in firearms in October. Jim Henson has accepted the patrolman position, beginning November 21.

Finance officer Laura Smith informed the council that her final day at work will be March 29.

She said through October, the city sales tax collected is up over last year by $992.76.

She said she is not worried about County taxes that will be coming in, but she is worried about the bottom line of spending for 2012. “Through October, $173,000 has been overspent in the general fund, compared to what has been brought in,” Smith said.

She is cautioning department heads to not buy anything unless it is absolutely necessary. She explained that there are “expenditure guidelines,” which provides the amount of budgeted money that should be available per month throughout the year. She explained that through October, the police department has spent 84 percent of what was budgeted, which leaves only 16 percent to cover November and December expenses.

LaDonna Wharton, On-Hand Development Corporation director, and members of the On-Hand Beautification Committee, discussed refurbishing the “Cowboy” at The Virginian. Wharton said the Cowboy is not structurally sound, and Patrick King of Quality Quick Prints, Aberdeen, gave a quote of about $30,000 for restoration. The Virginian owner opted to donate the sign to the City of Miller, rather than pay for part or all of the restoration.

If money cannot be raised for repair, the Cowboy would probably have to be taken down as a precautionary measure, Wharton explained.

John Carr, with the Beautification Committee, said the committee would begin a fundraising campaign to restore the Cowboy, which he called an “iconic symbol of Miller.” The City was asked to provide insurance and cost of electricity.

Laura Smith said she had contacted their insurance company, and had not yet received a definitive answer. Action was tabled until the insurance status is settled, and the City attorney weighs in on the matter.

Tony Rangel received council approval to place Christmas lights at Crystal Park, along the signage above the pond. He would supply the lights, and the City will cover electric costs. The Beautification Committee agreed the decorating was a wonderful idea, and could perhaps be expanded in future years.

Smith reported that Miller was one of the top 50 fundraisers in the statewide “Strides Against Breast Cancer” project.

In other action, the council approved the appointment of Chad Rembold to the Miller Housing Commission for another five-year term. A building permit was approved for Eldene Norma Moser for a carport and storage shed.

Liquor license renewals were approved. For package (off sale) liquor, approval was given for Turtle Creek Saloon, The Virginian, Redneck Paradise and Tucker’s SuperValu. Retail (on sale) licenses were approved for Turtle Creek Saloon, Hi-Lite, The Virginian and Sommer’s Bar and Lounge. Retail (on-off sale) wine licenses were approved for Redneck Paradise and Miller Rexall Drug.

The first reading of Ordinance#641 was held, for supplementing the general fund budget by $10,000 from the City’s contingency fund. The amounts approved were $4,000 for City attorney, professional fees; contract repair and maintenance, fire hall heat repair, $5,250; and J.C. Terry Complex (ball park), $750 for salaries.

Council members watched a 22-minute video, dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.

The next meeting will be Monday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Bla