09/21/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor Dan Haeder, opened the September 21,2020,  meeting of the Alcester City Council at 6:05 p.m. with council members Darla Reppe, Linda Talbott, Vickie Larsen, Melissa Kay, Marcus Ireland and City Attorney Sam Nelson present with Councilman David Larsen participating remotely via telephone.

The council approved the agenda.

Agenda Item #4 Public Input

Gordon Richards of Alcester Union-Hudsonite Newspaper announced that SD Public television was interested in interviewing residents of Alcester.  To sign up contact Mr. Richards who will forward requests.

Marcus Ireland announced the dump gate was left open.

Vickie Larsen called for a deadline for the launch of the official website of the city of Alcester of November 1, 2020.

Vickie Larsen wants to see the city offices open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.,   Monday through Friday with the finance office staff going at different lunch  times so the office and phones can be manned at all times of the day.

Vickie Larsen hand-delivered a globally sent email from Mayor Haeder to   council members and employees of the city of Alcester with her response to his demand. (see below)

 Mayor Haeder announced the DENR guidelines are stricter.

Two documents of the Planned Development need changes so will not be   actionable until those changes have been made.

Agenda Item #5 Public Hearing of Variance set at 6:16 p.m. for the Sunnyside LLC.  Present to push his variance through was Rob Huber of Lennox, SD.  He was disappointed it was not a slam dunk.  Mr. Huber announced he was a civil engineer, definition of which according to the dictionary is, “an engineer who designs and maintains roads, bridges, dams, and similar structures.” 

Currently, the municipal employee who issues the Building Permits is Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens.  So let’s take a look at the building permit, a couple of the accompanying documents and the permitting process. 

First the front page of the building permit issues on August 18, 2020, by Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens and as provided to the city council for review late September 18, 2020.

Note the date, and the work authorized signature on this Building Permit.

Now take note of highlighted areas of this permit #291, specifically the portion calling out the feet from lot lines and whether a variance is needed.  Now note specifically the word NO on the variance portion.

Pease note the yellow highlighted areas (addenda to Huber mortgage certification containing just the date of March 8, 2013) here.  Addition to Existing Storage units, Note the date of certification of the original drawing for mortgage purposes, Note the highlighted area on the drawing on the south side of lot #10 with the notation Small concrete Block Wall.  Now to (0:20:20.67) Councilman David Larsen’s question of a retaining wall.  Mr. Huber’s answer (0:21:30.60) explaining he didn’t feel it was justified and Mr. Huber’s excuse (0:22:02.10)  Why pencil in an addenda of small concrete block wall? Obviously expert opinion felt it was needed.  Mr. Huber states (22:56.63)…We’ve built a lot of storages facilities…“, (33:37.47)…gladly give you information …” already digging, a little late if you ask me, (44:55.10) …I have already ordered the materials…” and (45:13.13) “...Been in the business…If I would have known…“.

          Since this building permit involved our Industrial District the requirements for a variance are found in Chapter 15 of the Alcester Zoning Regulations…15.04  A) “…Convenience, loss of profit, financial limitations, or self-imposed hardship shall not be considered as grounds for approving a variance by the Zoning Board of Adjustment” (the city council) 

          So why did the majority of the council vote to allow the variance, could it be (45:59.10)  where Mr. Huber says, “…I wasn’t expecting this…” and (0:48:25.70)  Mr. Huber, “…if you don’t want to do this…just let me know…” ?  Insinuating he would cancel the project if Alcester would not give him a variance.  Really?  What about all those pre-ordered materials? (44:55.10) on the expectation this convenience variance was a cakewalk?  Mr. Huber spoke of the financial impact his project will have on our city.  Property Tax on the current property is around $1978.42 , add a like sum for the additional units for a grand total of $3799.84 per year split with the school, the county and the city, no jobs that I see for the locals and according to my information self-storage facilities are not subject to sales tax.

          Our Building Permitting and Variance Processes are flawed, encompassing convenience variances, preferential variances and lackadaisical implementation, often supporting documents lack dates and even legal documents lack dates.  In my opinion, these flaws put Alcester at financial risk and liability and cost our citizen taxpayers. 

          The city agenda is typically sent out after hours on Friday before a meeting.  SDCL 1-25-1.1  “…Each political subdivision shall provide public notice, with proposed agenda, that is visible, readable, and accessible for at least an entire, continuous twenty-four hours immediately preceding any official meeting, by posting a copy of the notice, visible to the public, at the principal office of the political subdivision holding the meeting…”  The council should get copies of any materials pertinent to specific items of the agenda particularly any items requiring a vote, presumably so the council has best information or the opportunity to investigate on their own.  Getting the agenda emailed after-hours on a Friday afternoon before a Monday meeting creates a major impediment in the council’s ability to gather facts on their own, effectively blocking council independent inquiry and beware the wrath if a council member shows the initiative to investigate on their own.  Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission, Keep the council in-the-dark, can’t hurt can it?

Agenda Item #6– Planned Development- Patrick Andrews SECOG- regarding the property called Old School Centre.  Development Plan.

Agenda Item #7-Glock Surplus

Agenda Item #8 EMS Update- Additions to the volunteer roster lists for the ambulance and the Fire Department cross-over’s to the ambulance.  First Mr. Nohava is receiving a fee for his “director” services so the term volunteer does not apply.  Second Mayor Haeder’s ecstasy on the growth of the volunteers is premature.  Out of the new names presented for the volunteer roster-four are designated as drivers with two of those four described as students, one is designated as EMT, three are designated nurses, and five listed as Fire Fighters/drivers.  Yes the volunteer list has grown, however the ambulance at this point has only accumulated One EMT.  Historically (no matter however trivial it is) ambulances have trouble keeping certified EMT’s. 

          Upon the introduction of this agenda item number, I expressed my concern on what I understand is a forced transport to Hawarden Hospital.  I held up a tutorial sheet from Brady EMT Text book with the question:  Who is the EMT accountable to?  #1) the Patient, #2) Medical Direction and #3) State Legislation.  Do you know what transporting a person over state lines against their will is?   Taking away the state line issue, do you know what holding someone against their will is?  Do you know what it is called if the ambulance refuses to transport the patient when they do not want to go the Hawarden Hospital?  While the city council has no say in the operation of the ambulance, the city does have a responsibility to its citizenry and the treatment preferences of that citizenry.

Agenda Item #9 – legal Updates –   

Resolution 2020-12 establishes CBDG (Community Development Block Grant) for Waste water Facility.

Resolution 2020 -13 applications for Financial Assistance Funding.

Resolution 2020-14 – Sewer rate increase.

Agenda Item #10 – Halloween- Trick or Treat.  Allow or not.  Left to parental decisions.

Agenda Item #11 – Finance Office Updates

 Ambulance allowance $1000.00

 Fire Department allowance $1000.00 Fire School

Health Insurance Stipend for FT employees not taking City Health   Insurance-Wanda

Purchase of (8) 10 inch computer, screen protectors and cases $2232.00 .  Yeah, a wasteful expenditure of money just in case the council has to meet remotely.  Oh but C.A.R.E.S will reimburse the city, maybe?  C.A.R.E.S. ( the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming, bipartisan support and signed into law by President Trump on March 27th, 2020.  This over $2 trillion economic relief package delivers on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protecting the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19.)  Want to know where C.A.R.E.S. funding   comes from our tax pockets. So why do we (the city) spend fund money for an “I Wants” when someone whose “Needs” (food, rent, medical care) are greater than our “I wants”?  $2232.00 would be better left in the fund to provide for food, beds and medicine for those who really need it.  We don’t.  Oh yeah, I was not supposed to research A&B Solutions and their quote. Oh my, shame on me for asking questions about a potential purchase without a translator.

Agenda Item #12 – Executive Session Personnel called by Finance Officer Jurrens, and was news to the Mayor whose duty is to make up the agenda.  Executive Session was called at 8:34 p.m. and as I shut down my camera, Finance Officer Jurrens called out to Wanda to please stay in the session.  The session did not meet the criteria for a legal personnel executive session.  After a 35 minute, spirited discussion Executive Session was called out of session at 9:09 p.m.

Agenda Item #13 Adjourn  – The council adjourned at 9:10 p.m.