The December 4, 2017, regular Alcester City Council meeting was called to order by Mayor Tom Glas with council members Audri Carlson, Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, Darla Reppe, Dan Haeder, David Larsen and Lance Johnson and gallery reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Councilwoman Darla Reppe moved to accept the agenda without change, Councilman David Larsen seconded the motion, and with no discussion the group accepted the agenda with a unanimous yea vote. It is interesting to note here that the council members approved Mayor Tom Glas’ agenda with public input in the number seven (7) spot which denied any citizen of Alcester from voicing their opinion on any issues prior to public input much less the purchase of a 2018 pickup at $27,518.00 and a dump truck at $47,500.00 with their tax dollars.
Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle moved to approve, without changes, the minutes from the November 6th and the November 13th Alcester City Council meetings, Councilman Lance Johnson seconded the motion and with no discussion the group voted unanimously to approve the minutes.
Next on the agenda involved legal updates which dealt with the Austin Schuller academy agreement language, letter to consent to annex, voluntary annexation for the city shed property which included a resolution to annex by mayoral filing of written annexation and a resolution to change Alcester Corporation limits to reflect the annexations with both resolutions passing unanimous and a resolution to change the numbering of the indecency and nudity Ordinance. Explanation was to change the number of Ordinance 7.0508.1 effective date of 12/14/2005 and Ordinance 7.0508.2 effective date of 12/14/2005 to 5.0105A and 5.0105B respectively to bring back the more restrictive language in those 2005 ordinances to the present code. Interesting, very interesting.
Agenda Item 6 – City Employee Updates, sub A, sub II a) and sub II b) which dealt with 2018 Pick-up purchase at $27,518.00 and Dump Truck purchase at $47,500.00. Prior to the beginning of the meeting I had passed out to the Council copies of the 2005 Ordinance which established the 2nd penny sales tax restricting all proceeds of the second penny sales tax to Capital Improvement with an accompanying definition of capital improvements and fixed equipment.
As the council began discussion on the purchase of the pick-up and dump truck, Councilman Lance Johnson and Mayor Glas stated the city needed to stop the excessive spending, the city could not afford the pattern of spending they had embarked upon. Both gentlemen opined the very same sentiment,
“…put a stop to spending and borrowing…”
in the November 13, 2017, council meeting, yet they did not vote against the spending or veto it. This time they slowed down to do more research on the questionable use of the 2nd penny sales tax on this equipment before they would vote on the issues. The issue is scheduled to be addressed in the December 21, 2017, meeting at 5:00 p.m.
Folks, the council has the choice of ignoring the ordinance restriction or they can take a chance and bull-doze ahead with spending another $80K+/- of taxpayer money that was earmarked by ordinance for a community building and other capital improvements such as street repair and rebuild. I am sure west-side Alcester property owners would appreciate new streets and utilities upgrades on their side of town, not to mention the appreciation in their property values.
I asked for time to explain my position at this point, to explain why the city did not have the ability to use the second penny sales tax for equipment purchases. May Glas told me, “NO, I had to wait for public input”! I persisted in ‘gaining the floor’ for participation in the discussion on the ordinance violation on the basis public input was AFTER the vote. Again Mayor Glas told me, “NO, they were discussing City Business!”, to which I responded, ” I WAS TALKING about city business”. Mayor Glas again told me, “NO”!
Agenda Item 6, sub A, III was Street Department Lonnie Johnson’s proposed chip seal schedule 2018-2023. This was an effort to get back on track for the well-being of our streets. During the Rick Johnson and so far into the Tom Glas administration, regular street maintenance was literally abandoned. Mayor Glas stated,
“I don’t see the need for chip sealing because most of the gravel washes away and into the gutters and drains…it is just a waste of $10K…”
Next up on Agenda Item 6 Finance Office was sub E, I, a) A CBDG loan to Home Away from Home for $10K at 2% for 7 years. This loan had been approved November 5, 2015, and wasn’t dispersed until November 1, 2017. The city has been managing the CDBG fund as ‘incentives’ for new start-up business, business expansion and businesses coming into town. The key term here is incentive. Financing of the full amount had to be secured through a lending institution and the CDBG loan from the city was to be a single point percentage as an enticement. I questioned this amount, but I knew I would have to wait for public input.
Still under Agenda Item 6 Finance was the appointment of a Library Board Member to replace retiring Library Board member Mrs. Connie Larsen. The Library Board is made up of three members from the city and three members from the school system.
Agenda Item 6-Finance Office was the Ward I Vacancy. Alcester City Councilwoman Audri Carlson resigned her council position in Alcester City Ward I effective upon adjournment of the December 4, 2017, meeting. Councilwoman Carlson explained due to changing circumstances, her personal responsibilities and commitments needed to take precedence in her life at this time.
Executive session was called to discuss contracts SDCL 1-25-2-4, Councilman Dan Haeder moved to go into executive session (closed) to discuss contracts, with the motion second coming from Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle and with no discussion the council voted unanimously to close the meeting to the public at 7:08 p.m. The council re-opened the meeting at 7:33 p.m. with no action taken in the public forum.
The date for the Special meeting in December was set for December 21, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. to discuss budget appropriation and to address no action items from the December 4, 2017, meeting. Motion to set the date came from Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom seconded the motion and with no discussion the group voted unanimously on the 12/21/2017 meeting date. The date for the January 2018 meeting was set for January 8, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. with a motion from Councilman Lance Johnson, a motion second came from Councilwoman Darla Reppe and with no discussion the council voted unanimously to set the January regular meeting date at January 8, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
Agenda Item 7-Public Input was finally called. I responded with an explanation of the 2005 Ordinance restricting the 2nd penny sales tax to only capital improvements and its effect on the council’s decision to spend money based upon the second penny sales for equipment. The effect this would have is all moneys to be spent on the Street Sweeper, the Skid Loader, the 2018 pick-up truck and the Dump Truck that were to be taken from the 2nd penny sales tax would instead have to come out of the general fund or the first penny sales tax which would have a profound effect Alcester’s bank account. FO Pat voiced her opinion that according to the city accountants , the city could used the second penny sales tax for equipment, further explaining the definition of Capital Improvement to which I disagreed. It would be easiest of the city rethinks their position on the violation of the 2nd penny restriction but if not,
“we the people can take it into our own hands”
I asked my question about the CDBG loan. When the CDBG Loan program was set up it was to act as an incentive and the applicant had to have funding at a financial institution. IF the city financed a majority of the funds on a particular project with a financial institution hold the FIRST lien against the collateral, the city comes in at a POOR second to the primary lien holder. Kind-of-like when the city gave the Deems a CDBG loan for liquor and using the liquor as collateral. Now that was a super-nova idea, let’s use a liquid collateral with no recourse to recover funds loaned!
Still no gallery packet for the folks to follow along and for which ordinance provides. Why are ya draggin’ your heels Mayor Glas?
My last item was the courtesy copy of a letter addressed to Jerry Miller, Union County Attorney which I received from a fellow citizen who wished to remain anonymous. I told the council usually when I get a letter addressed in the manner this letter was addressed, someone was well and truly irritated with me. I explained, not so with this letter, the author of this letter was irritated with them. I read them an excerpt from the letter,
“…I also would like to point out that the City Council has decided to change the way they do business by barring the public from the discussion on all matters which they already voted on till the last item on the agenda, in other words. They talk about the agenda item, like raising fees for streets or raising the water rates, then they vote and move on to the next item on the agenda, after all that is done they open the meeting for public comment and then adjourn. I believed we live in a Democracy and not a dictatorship.
I would include my name, however the City Council has and will retaliate against me or any complainant by send threats to people over such things as sidewalks, or curbs or grass notices with threats of arrests or citation…Sincerely… A very concern resident of the dictatorship of the City of Alcester SD”
I told the council I was not yet able to confirm with Mr. Miller that he had received this letter. Alcester Finance Officer Pat Jurrens spoke up and confirmed that Union County State’s Attorney Jerry Miller had indeed received the letter but they were unable to answer it because it was anonymous and they did not know how to get in touch with the complainant. Sir Complainant your letter has been received and I am here to acknowledge the veracity of your statement concerning retaliation by my own experience. Mayor Glas diligently has and still flatly refuses me agenda item access to discuss any city business issues. Folks this is not the first person to contact me about how citizens are treated or mis-treated by the Mayor or city personnel from window-peeping to relegating input to the last items of the night and effectively operating a closed meeting.
During Public Input Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom -Lyle shared a concern about unleashed pets at large, Councilman David Larsen complimented the City Christmas decorations.
Agenda Item 8- HRC It was shared that two members of the HRC were concerned about the HRC signage size and visibility on Hwy 46. H-m-m is there an echo here. Didn’t I bring that up several meetings ago and was roundly put down? Folks, size does matter when one is traveling at 65 mph!
Agenda Item Adjournment- Councilman Lance Johnson moved to adjourn, with the second coming from Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, with no discussion the council voted unanimously to adjourn.
Folks call or contact Mayor Glas, Tell him we want Our Voice, No More Closed Meetings and No More Spending! Listen to us, “We the People”!