Council--Sean Simmons

As Orofino’s City Administrator Rick Laam retires several changes have occurred in house. Outgoing Mayor, Ryan Smathers (center) was appointed City Administrator. Sean Simmons (right) was appointed Mayor and Councilmember Jennifer Dunaway (left) was elected Council President at the Orofino City Council meeting held May 12.

Upon the recent retirement of Rick Laam, Ryan Smathers and Sean Simmons were appointed to new positions, City Administrator and Mayor, respectively, at the Orofino City Council meeting held May 12, Councilmember Jennifer Dunaway was elected Council President.

The new mayor was asked to recommend a new council member for appointment to the vacant council position at the next meeting for council approval.

Petitions, applications,

appeals, communications

Vince McAtee, a representative for Tek-Hut was in attendance of the meeting to learn of the council’s decision for the Easement request for the installation of fiber optic service from the elementary school to the edge of the city limits in Konkolville.

Initially Tec-Hut asked for a right of way permit and the city countered the request with a less permanent option of agreeing to an easement. By issuing an easement, the city retains ownership and the use of the land being used by Tec-Hut.

Cities are prohibited from entering into a franchise agreement with these companies. However they may enter into a special agreement in which the easement can be exchanged for Tec-Hut to lay additional conduit under the one-dig policy program. While the trench is open it makes sense to lay an extra conduit for future use.

“We may not need it today,” stated former Administrator Laam, “but we never know what might take place in the future. If another company wants an easement for any purpose, such as power, telephone, etc., the city would be in a position to lease conduit space without digging up the street again.

Laam reported the city would need approximately 2.5 miles of conduit which cost .45 cents per foot, for a total of $5,940 which would be paid for by the Street Department. The project is to be completed by June 30, 2020.

The request was approved unanimously.

River Design Group

The council also approved the contract for Professional Services with River Design Group, Inc. (RDG). Councilman Mark Swanye asked once again to clarify with RDG that the contract will include provisions for proper routine maintenance, to minimize the expense and labor of having to readdress the same issue in the future. Councilmembers concurred with the recommendation. There has been no further contact with the County Commissioners regarding this matter.

The city was contacted by the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) regarding the Federal Lands Access Program Match agreement worth $5,000 to provide funding for the Dent Bridge road project. Dent Bridge road starts in Orofino and leads to campgrounds and trails along the reservoir, ending in Elk River. This is a heavily traveled road for commerce, residents, visitors and recreationists. This road is also a major evacuation route for Clearwater County.

Given that the first 1882 feet of Dent Bridge road is within the city limits the city pledges support and funding commitment to meet the required match of the cost, contingent on the award of the project.

Due to the delay in the project’’s actual construction date, which is now proposed for 2024, the city was contacted to see if they were still interested.

The council discussed the dangerous “K” intersection beginning Dent Bridge road, adjacent to Hwy. 7, falls within the city limits. It extends to the road which leads up to the back entry to the hospital. Swayne expressed the need for realignment for a safer intersection.

Departmental reports

New City Administrator Smathers took the first few minutes of his report to thank the council for their ongoing support, and his appreciation of the new opportunity to serve the citizens of Orofino. He shared that he has learned a lot about the city during his time as mayor, and has much to learn still. He promised the council a smoother report at the next meeting.

The budget was next in his report and he stated that the city was about a week behind schedule but revenue projections were still unknown. He predicted a tight year budget-wise. The city has discussed recommending a 0% property tax increase this year, which would amount to a possible $38,000 loss in revenue, which the city can levy those funds later if needed. Smathers received the council’s consent.

Clearwater Power declined the city’s proposal for a 3% Franchise Fee increase as opposed to 1%. Following a public education program for the residents of Konkolville, city residents will have the opportunity to decide in the 2020 November elections the increased amount to be charged, 1 % or 3%.

The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has made $20,000 of relief funding available to the city to use as deemed appropriate for the upkeep and maintenance of the Orofino Municipal Airport. Smathers suggested the topic might make benefit a work session to determine how the money should be spent.

Last in Smather’s report, an Ordinance introduced by Jon Hoyt, Orofino Fire Chief to apply to what is called a Cost Recovery Plan in which insurance agencies would share part of the cost, (not the citizens) for services provided by the city. “The plan has been there, and built right into the insurance company but needs to be accessed to supplement expenses with incidents such as vehicle accidents, for example. More than half of the vehicle accidents in our area on Hwy. 12, involved people traveling through, not residents. But the expenses currently are paid by the residents.” Hoyt believes it will be a huge asset especially since the department has now grown. There are 27 firefighters, with two waiting on the paperwork.

Treasurer Donna Wilson presented the State of Idaho, Cable and Electric Revenue Recap reports ending April 30, for review. Wilson also asked for the council’s recommendation as to where to place the Community Transformation Grant money of $250,000 in the books and upcoming budget. She had discovered the closure of the City Beautification Fund in 2014-2015. She suggested renaming the fund to City Transformation Fund and that the money be placed there. The council unanimously agreed.

Smathers noted that the city only holds the grant money, how it is actually spent is determined by the committee created within the community.

Building Official Todd Perry notified the council that work had begun at Champion Park to expand the concrete slab around the cabana and uphill with a retaining wall to the left.

Perry said construction of a handrail for the staircase had been proposed as an Eagle Scout project a while back, but the troop has been dissolved since. Perry asked for permission to continue with the project. The council confirmed the work needed to be done for safety purposes. If in time the Scout comes forth and wished to do another project the city would be happy to work with him at a later date.

The Building Permit report for April 2020 was submitted to the council.

Public Works Supervisor Shane Miller was not in attendance. He had asked for the message to be relayed to the council that his department was still trying to keep up with the weeding, however the city was not able to utilize the labor of the Red Shirts at ICI-O this spring due to the pandemic.

Police Chief Jeff Wilson briefed the council on some staff and shift changes this month due to Officer Remington attending firearms training in Coeur d’Alene this week and Officer Russell on vacation later this month.

He also asked to relate to the public that the program for graduation this year was solely determined by the school district, as far as limiting attendance. He reiterated that his job was to assist in any way possible and to see that things run safely.

Water/Wastewater Supervisor Mike Martin informed the council that for the time being as one employ has been placed on light duty for medical reasons, the crew is working together to compensate.

Fire Chief Jon Hoyt notified the council of his recent investigation into the CARES Act to see what might be available to fire departments. The good news is that Orofino Fire Department is eligible for $107,000 of reimbursements. He proposed to spend a portion of the funds in stocking up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which has been scarce or non-existent throughout the past couple months. “Not to seem negative,” he shared, “but in the case that the pandemic does return this winter as surmised, we don’t want to go scouting for available supplies at a cost that’s highly inflated. I’ve ordered enough to help supply neighboring departments as well.

Hoyt also noted that the burn season within city limits had been extended for fire suppression until May 31, when residential debris burning will be banned with the exception of fire pits and barbeques.

Minutes, bills and claims

 The council approved minutes of the Regular Council meeting held April 28, regular bills plus additional bills and payroll ending May 9.

Upcoming meetings

The next Council Meeting is Tuesday, May 26, at 6 p.m.

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