06/10/2017 A Voice from the Gallery

The June 5th, 2017, regular Alcester City Council was called to order by Mayor Tom Glas with Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and Councilman Lance Johnson present. Councilwoman Audri Carlson was absent.

The Council recited the Pledge of Allegiance, approved the agenda with no additions or corrections, and approved the minutes of regular city council meeting held at 6:00 p.m. on May 1, 2017 and the (?) meeting held at 7:30 A.M. on May 23, 2017.

The Alcester City Council meeting held on May 23, 2017, was NOT a regular meeting but a meeting to effect the purchase of a new 2017 police car. I have to wonder why a special meeting at a special time had to be held on May 23rd. What was so urgent about the purchase of a new Cop car Mayor Glas, that this issue could not be held at the June 5th regular meeting of the Alcester City Council? A little short of funds this month, Mayor Glas?

Folks, special meetings are for emergent purposes. However, special meetings are to be just as open to the public as regular meetings, committee meetings, HRC meetings, and etcetera complete with published notices with dates, times and agendas. Changing the meeting time to 7:30 A.M. smacks of manipulation to effect a closed meeting. Why? I could speculate. Yup, I missed the meeting. That I missed the meeting was my fault, I failed to notice the time manipulation. Of course FO Jurrens failed to point out the time change when I picked up a copy of the agenda the day before, imagine that! So in addition to a new Cop car, it appears this fantastic beast of a car will be financed with the State Bank of Alcester over a period of four years.

Item 5 on the agenda was to amend the minutes of the March 2nd, 2017, meeting. Specifically to include “…Seat coat bids were opened. Road Guy bid $1.70 per square yard and Topkote bid $1.71 per square yard. Mark Dykstra made the motion to accept and approve the bid from The Road Guy at a rate of $1.70 per yard seal coating approximately 8,000 square yards. Audri Carlson seconded it. All voted aye…” Councilman Lance Johnson moved to accept the amendment to the minutes, with the second coming from Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom Lyle with unanimous quorum vote yes. BUT the council failed to approve the minutes with the amendment attached. Unfortunately by this failure to follow rules; the council who approved the March 2nd, 2017, minutes in the April 3rd, 2017, meeting, then voted to change (by adding an amendment) the March 2nd, 2017 minutes in the June 5th, 2017, regular city council meeting, and then FAILED to approve the March 2nd, 2017, minutes with the added amendment language,  left the March 2nd, 2017, minutes approved as written in the April 3rd, 2017, meeting and the June 5th, 2017, amendment dangling without being attached to the motion. I know this sounds complicated, but it is pretty simple.

  • Motion A, 2nd to motion A, vote, majority vote yes. Motion A carrys.
  • Amend Motion A to correct an error or omission. Motion B to amend Motion A, 2nd to Motion B, vote, majority vote yes. Motion B carrys.
  • Motion C to officially approve Motion A with the insertion of the amendment approved in Motion B, 2nd to Motion C, vote, majority vote yes. Motion C carrys showing the Motion B officially attached to Motion A.*

* Keep this in mind for the sewer repair issue!

Updates on Malt beverage applications, Village West Apartment ordinance fiasco, and condemnation of 306 Iowa street condemnation.

Angela Hansel alley issue tabled from regular May council May meeting. At issue is a variance and vacation of city right-of-way in block 2 through block 3 alley between SD Hwy 11 and Circle Drive behind the property of Angela Hansel. Ms. Hansel wants to demolish the present small shed on the alley which was grandfathered in to cure an easement encroachment, then she wants to build a new shed to house motorcycles motorcycle trailer on a concrete pad that would encroach 1 foot by 12 feet into the actual alley violating the 25 foot set-back. Early on in this discussion it became apparent that a few council members knew what “grandfathered in meant”. ‘Grandfathering’ is an easement allowed on an encroachment that was in existence before current ordinances took effect. ‘Grandfathering’ is nullified and made void by demolition of the ‘grandfathered’ building. NO FO Jurrens you cannot legally take down one wall at a time, rebuilding the encroachment one wall at a time. Ordinance violation! Pure and simple.

It is the opinion of Mayor Glas and FO Jurrens to allow the abandonment of the 25 foot set-back and encroachment into the city alley.

SINCE WHEN DOES THE CITY BOOKKEEPER’S OPINION COUNT FOR ONE SORRY HILL OF BEANS ON THE ENCROACHMENT OF A CITY ALLEY?

When Alcester Councilwoman Jurrens resigned and applied for the position of Alcester Finance Officer she gave up all rights, privileges, voice and votes in Alcester City Council Meetings!

Alcester city attorney Chuck Haugland recommended Angela Hansel file a petition for the city to vacate the alley and ask for a variance to property code. Alcester city councilman Lance Johnson moved to have Alcester City Attorney Charles Haugland to write and file a petition for city vacation of the Alcester City alley for a private resident, Angela Hansel apparently at city cost. Councilwoman Darla Reppe seconded the (?) motion with a quorum unanimous vote of yes. Yup and just a month or so ago Councilman Lance Johnson delivered a smoking, wild-eyed’ rant about ‘residents’ getting free legal advice from the city attorney on the city’s dime. Evidently ol’ Councilman Lance likes to cherry pick, but I already knew that.

Joe Zweifel wanted to use a city alley (which utility trucks use to work on phone, electric, and etc.) to facilitate a cement truck delivering cement to the back of his property and FO Jurrens told him NO he could not and a statement she confirmed and reiterated during June 5th, 2017, council meeting.   Since when did FO Jurrens become the 7th council person with a vote?   She does not get paid to offer up legal opinions, it is up to the council to give permission if indeed permission is needed to use a city alley way. Evidently it is okay to build a shed and encroach in the city alley but not to allow  truck traffic.

Wastewater report-Here the chat was about the sewer sleeving project and the goat rodeo of an improper motion by Councilman Lance Johnson who failed to state where the money was to come from. Later an amendment was made but the full amended corrected motion failed to be called. So the old motion still stands and the amendment stands in limbo.

JULY MEETING DATE WAS SET FOR JULY 5, 2017 AT REGULAR TIME OF 6:00 PM

Planning and Zoning committee of Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, Councilman Dan Haeder and Councilman Lance Johnson set a time of 5:00 p.m. to meet but not a date. (THIS IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE)

Item 12-f-vii-e Elected officials workshop was called. This is a workshop that helps elected officials do things properly in the course of their meetings. The question was called who wanted to attend this workshop to which Alcester City Councilman Lance Johnson replied, “I do not want to go…Not my type of thing to go to…” (This was the guy who was appointed over me in my first attempt at appointment, the guy who called to me as we exited the building at the end of that meeting telling me he was only on the council for one year and was not going to re-up and I could have the seat after him. Yeah and I weigh 110.00 pounds!)   Motion to call the question of registration payment of up to $200.00 per person attending from Alcester City Council was made by Councilman David Larsen with a 2nd coming from Councilman Lance Johnson. Vote was called with a quorum unanimous vote of yes.

HRC update given by Mayor Glas who was so proud of his signs. Uhm, really? The sign on SD Hwy 46 is undersized, dark and blends into the background and are too low for the average traffic speed on Hwy 46. The other sign again is too dark, blends with background and if one does not know it is there, they will miss it. Mayor says he has two more waiting to be placed. Wonder how much those cost the HRC? I wonder how the interest payments are being made with no lots being sold and no principal being paid off. Déjà Vu?

Point of Order was called on amendment to the sewer repair which appears in my June 6th, 2017, blog.

Mayor called the question for adjournment. Motion to adjourn was made by Councilwoman Darla Reppe with the second to the motion coming from Councilman Lance Johnson. Unanimous vote yes, from quorum council adjourned the meeting.

NOTE: After adjournment Councilman David Larsen left the meeting room, but Mayor Tom Glas, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom, Councilman Dan Haeder and Councilman Lance Johnson remained in the room along with FO Pat Jurrens and myself, Vickie Larsen. Four council members and Mayor Glas were still present in the room, a quorum existed. At this point Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom, Councilman Lance Johnson and Councilman Dan Haeder continued their earlier city business discussion concerning setting the date for a planning and zoning meeting and decided to set the time and date of the planning and zoning committee meeting for June 14, 2017, at 5:00 P.M. A quorum existed and city business was discussed after the meeting was adjourned, clearly a violation of open meeting. This is a tactic that has been used by other cities to circumvent open meeting laws relying on a rapid exit of gallery in most instances.

06/05/2017 A View from the Gallery

At last evening’s Alcester City Council Meeting, item number 12-b-ii was considered. This issue dealt with the sewer line at 5th & Ofstad which had been discussed at a previous meeting of the council. The issue was whether to sleeve* ($16,000.00) the sewer line to effect a repair or to a total, complete repair the line at a projected cost of ($25,000.00) and the consequences of this sewer line was the proposed line to take the sewages from the N40 Industrial Park (my term).

During this discussion, the question was asked where the funds to effect either the sleeving or the full, complete repair, to which FO Jurrens replied, “from the 2nd penny sales tax”. I was astounded because Alcester has a sewer enterprise fund just for the purpose of replacing and repair of the sewer infrastructure. WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT FUND? Why is the city using the 2nd penny sales tax to fund something that each and every resident and business within the corporate limits of Alcester are already billed and pay into a sewer enterprise fund through their water bill. Check your water bill folks. Simply put the sewer fee breaks down into operational costs plus a sort-of-contingency fee or a savings account if you will to pay for costs of repair, renewal and construction of waste-water/sewer infrastructure. Ostensibly these contingency fees/sewer savings account would draw interest which would build the fund.

Since 2014 these enterprise funds have been raided (borrowed from) to pay for things not water or sewer, the city has been admonished for these questionable accounting practices and because of these practices the city is ineligible for certain grants.

So motion was called. Alcester City Councilman Lance Johnson made the motion to sleeve the Ofstad sewer line compromise but failed to state the intention to fund this ‘sleeving’ out of the second penny sales away rather than from the normal sewer fund. Councilman Dan Haeder seconded the motion and vote was unanimous to sleeve the Ofstad sewer line compromise.

At this point the city attorney was released from the meeting and on his way past me, I asked him about the failure to designate funding type and that an amendment was needed to confirm the fund from which the $16000.00 cost was to come. He agreed and spoke to FO Pat Jurrens before he left. Apparently FO Jurrens decided it was not necessary to amend the sewer ‘sleeve’ vote ignoring the Alcester City Attorney’s counsel because she did not inform Mayor Glas of the need for an amendment.

I waited, realizing the amendment was not going to be made, called point of order so the improper motion would be properly corrected.

To amend, the council needed to review the motion. Then make a motion to add the corrective language, second the motion to add corrective language and take a vote. Upon majority yes vote, the corrective language is added to the motion. The corrected motion then is made, a second is made and a vote taken to pass the corrected motion.

What actually happened?  Chaos! The motion to amend the original motion to read the funding of $16000.00 would be taken from the 2nd penny sales tax was made by Councilman David Larsen and seconded by Councilman Lance Johnson and vote to amend was unanimous. But a motion to accept the amended motion was not taken based on the rationale they had already voted on the original motion. So the amended motion to sleeve the Ofstad sewer compromise lies in limbo until a confirming vote can be taken to set the decision to ‘sleeve’ the Ofstad sewer compromise with the $16000.00 cost to come from the 2nd penny sales tax.

Failure of proper procedure has just put the Ofstad sewer sleeve project on hold until a proper motion and vote can be taken. Still the question,

 

        WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONEY IN THE SEWER FUND?

      WHERE DID IT GO?

        WHY THE LIBERTIES WITH OUR SEWER ENTERPRISE FUND?

*Simplified a ‘sleeve’ is the process which inserts a smaller diameter pipe through the damaged outer pipe to carry the sewage in this case.