A request through Orofino Rural Fire District (ORFD) to extend fire protection to county property located on Plantation Drive, outside of the current rural district boundaries, was denied by the Orofino City Council at the regular meeting held Feb. 9.

Orofino Fire Chief Jon Hoyt recommended the city deny the request, and reported to council members the various hardships involved in responding to the area.

“We aren’t able to effectively fight fires at that location. I’m not comfortable with heading up Deer Cedar Road to reach Plantation Drive. Due to the road, we would be limited to using the brush truck which is incapable of handling a structure fire, our tinder truck would require much more time to reach the property,” said Hoyt, “I understand the county does not maintain the road, which is another issue. Why annex, if we can’t effectively fight the fire? It just isn’t practical.”

The growth of the county in the past year has expanded and continues to grow. At some point, county residents may need to consider establishing a fire department closer in proximity to the new homes being built

In the past few months as the contract was in the process of renewal, the City and ORFD had started a conversation regarding the growth of the district and left off with the consensus that new requests were to be determined by the fire chief on a case by case basis. Requests to be annexed into the district are becoming more frequent. New homes being built are not able to obtain fire insurance if they aren’t in a fire district. No one wants to deny fire protection, but the district has simply outgrown the ability to effectively serve the area in question. A work session will be held to further discuss the matter with ORFD on March 2.

Other petitions, applications, appeals, communications

In a recent email to the City, US Bank announced moving away from the practice of using securities as collateral, to be replaced with a letter of credit, due to changes in banking regulations.

Treasurer Donna Wilson said she spoke with the City’s auditor who saw no issues in the change from an auditor’s standpoint. Wilson wanted the council’s directive before responding to the changes.

City Administrator Ryan Smathers expressed that in his previous employment with LCCU, he had always believed the city would be able to make more interest on their money. He said he tried at length to convince former City Administrator Rick Laam to look at other options, who had always countered that it was because of the collateral agreement with U.S. Bank. Now that regulations are wanting to substitute a letter of credit for collateral protection, Smathers believes it may be a good time to research other options. He asked Wilson the recent amount of interest earned. She stated that the interest made in December of 2020 was $41. In January of 2021, it was $51. “It’s very little,” she confirmed.  

“Not only do we make very little in interest, but we pay a treasury management fee to place our money with them. It’s an old fashioned system and there’s better options available. I’m not advocating any particular entity,” explained Smathers, “I suggest we send out requests for proposals from different financial institutions around us to see what they may be able to do. Let’s see what the other options might be, we may decide it isn’t the route we want to proceed, but we’ll have a little more information.”

A motion was made, seconded and passed by the council to explore options with the potential to accrue additional interest on the city’s accounts.

Departmental reports

Administrator Smathers informed the council that he and Economic Development Specialist Chris St. Germaine were putting forth a heavy effort to bring outside business to Orofino to help fill the many vacancies available.

Treasurer Wilson provided the Highway User, Revenue Sharing, State Liquor, Cable and Electric Revenue Recap Reports, Revenue vs. Expenditure by Fund Report ending Dec. 2020 and Treasurer’s Quarterly Report to the council for their review.

In addition to submitting the Building Permit report for January 2021, Building Official Todd Perry notified council members he had made two applications to Idaho Transportation Department regarding additional ADA ramps on Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 7. Other news pertained to the upcoming Planning and Zoning meeting on Feb. 16 to make a recommendation on the use of storage containers throughout the city.

Public Works Supervisor Shane Miller began his report to the council with filling a few potholes and doing some debris patrol during the bout of springlike weather. He noted that the department still had numerous requests to locate water and sewer lines for boring, which was a little more difficult with the snow.

NightForce has purchased the AAA Precision Tools building on Hwy. 7 and needs to tap into the six-inch line for a fire system. Also tapping into that line will be the County Ambulance District as they prepare to move forward with their project to provide temporary and dormitory housing for staff with extended shifts.

At the request of Urban Forests of Orofino committee, Public Works removed a birch tree at the park. The stump is left standing until the weather dries up a bit. Also removed were several plum trees on Main St and one on Michigan. They were able to the pull stumps as well at the time.

Last in his report, Miller stated he had ordered the parts required to relocate the water line for the Public Works shop as previously discussed, as soon as the weather allows. 

Police Chief Jeff Wilson recently met a with a local contractor,  Administrator Smathers, and Building Official Perry to walk through the Medical Park building to get an idea of what can be done, how much it will cost and when it could be done. He assured the council he would provide an update as more details come forth.

Wilson referred to the use of the gun club for practice and training purposes, previously discussed with the council. He said that in spite of being quite a trip to get there, that the lay of the land and logistics of setting up may only be used for rifle training and practice. The police department wished to pursue their search for a suitable range.

The council also learned that three officers had been vaccinated for Covid. 

The fourth item discussed by Wilson had to do with a surplus list of items no longer needed by the police department that was in the making. He told the council he hoped to have a list ready by spring. 

Water/Wastewater Supervisor Mike Martin announced he was excited to bring on Justin Beard. the facility’s new operator effective Feb. 16. “He’s had experience with membrane plants, he’s smart and hard-working, he’s local, has a new family and interested in a career.”

Martin added that he was working on updating some of the city’s ordinances to limit the industrial wastes, as the department encounters more and more electroplating. We are trying to adhere more with the limits suggested, as new recommendations come forth,” said Martin.

Martin also stated that two employees of the department had been vaccinated and were awaiting the second dose.

Fire Chief Jon Hoyt confirmed staying busy this past week with two vehicle wrecks. In his report regarding checks received for cost recovery, $4,700 was tallied for January, while this month’s amount was $5.700. Hoyt noted, “There were a couple of discrepancies with a few of the homeowners’ insurance policies, but it is still a very helpful program.” 

Minutes, bills and claims

The council approved minutes of the regular Council meeting held Jan. 26, regular bills plus additional bills and payroll ending Jan 30.            

Upcoming meetings

The next regular City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m.

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