City council meeting was not safe bet
A side bet on the budget at the Gettysburg City Council livened up the regular meeting on Sept. 3.
Economic Development was a major topic during the meeting. Gayle Kludt, executive director of the Gettysburg Whitlock Bay Economic Development Corporation, presented the monthly report. She said that there has been discussion to resurrect the biking and hiking trails that were proposed back in 1995 when the trees and street lights were put in place through Commercial Avenue. It would be another phase in the original project and she asked if a council member would be willing to work with the development corporation to see if there was any advantage of going forward with the project.
She also invited council members to the next board meeting, saying the meetings have never been closed to the public.
Mayor Bill Wuttke said he has been asked by three people about getting a Verizon cell phone tower on the east side of the river. Kludt explained that the cell tower they worked to get in the area is the one that covers the river and bay. Wuttke said that project was actually started on March 30, 2011 and revised in March of 2012, long before Gettysburg ever started on it. He reiterated this point, adding that the tribe had been involved with the project at that time. Kludt thanked him for the information, which she said was different from what she received from the cell phone company. Council member Dawn Nagel interjected that the area has the tower and service, and suggested moving the meeting along to official business.
Later in the meeting, before the budget discussion, council member Bryan Hause asked for the city council to reconsider rewarding the economic development corporation more funds without an approved budget or without an audit submitted to the council. In a previous meeting the board voted to increase the amount given to the development corporation from $28,000 last year to $30,000. Economic development had requested $35,000.
Hause, making a motion to drop the amount to the same as last year, said, “I’ve got money bet that it won’t get a second.”
Council member Pat Everson questioned why the council should drop the economic development budget. Hause responded, “It’s a start.” He expressed concern about a lack of transparency and accountability on a private corporation that is totally funded by tax payer dollars. “We get no answers,” he said. He went on to ask about an audit on the corporation, and said he has a problem with economic development and how it has been run with city funds for many years. He said it had been brought to his attention from FmHA funds that have built up an economic development revolving loan fund that was put into place and has helped a lot of businesses, but he said, “I think our chamber of commerce could issue those revolving loan funds.”
Nagel interjected, “I haven’t seen the chamber of commerce do much of anything all my life, realistically….”
“But I think they could,” said Hause.
Nagel responded, “Could, should, would, didn’t, haven’t…”
The motion died for lack of a second, at which time Hause said, “There you go. I won my bet.”
A vote followed, approving the budget with all but Hause casing a yes vote. Former council member Josh Bausch, who was in the audience at the meeting, quickly approached the table and faced council member Fran Van Bockel, saying, “I did not have a bet with Bryan. I did not come to this meeting to…” at which point the chief of police stopped Bausch by blocking his approach to Van Bockel and asked him to please talk from his chair. Bausch told the council he was leaving, and Van Bockel explained that she had simply smiled. As he left the room Bausch said, “I don’t care what happens. If you’re gonna smart off, be that way, I don’t give a… “
In other council discussion, Hause reported that he met with police Chief Bill Wainman and council member Ron Larson to go through the International Property Maintenance Code Book and made amendments. Service charges were discussed for routine service calls along with penalty fees on code enforcement. There was discussion of creating an appeals board for code enforcement. The code enforcement book changes will be reviewed and discussed at the next meeting. Chief Wainman told the council he had been contacted by Joe Neumayr questioning code enforcement and what is enforced.
The landfill was discussed and the fee for dumping concrete was increased by two dollars. The lock has also been changed at the rubble site.
A request form for use of the bandshell was presented. Hause questioned what the penalty will be if the bandshell is not properly cleaned. Since the police department will have the keys and will inspect it, a penalty was not included in the form.
A five year plan for the city was discussed, and a committee of Nagel, Hause, City Maintenance Supervisor Russell Anderson, and Mayor Wuttke was put in place.
Nagel said that city minutes need to be put on the website by the city, and updates need to be included. She was concerned about how the website is found. Finance Officer Shar Eliason said that a search for City of Gettysburg showed the website that is shared with the chamber of commerce. More research will be done on the website with further discussion at the next meeting.
The board adjourned into executive session around 8:35 to discuss personnel. A little over an hour and a half later they reconvened, at which point Kenny Goebel was appointed to the position on the council in Ward One.
In roundtable, Van Bockel said the streets look good and also commented on how nice the signs are at the police department and at the Little Angels Park.
Nagel said that she was contacted regarding apartment sidewalks in need of repair. She also was contacted about water lines on the east side of town that need to be looked at during planning, and asked if a map of the lines could be done. It was commented that there may be a number of water and sewer lines that nobody knows about. Everson asked about the speed signs, and Wainman said they are coming.
The meetings are held the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Gettysburg City Finance Office.
The meeting was adjourned. The minutes from the meeting are published on page 13 of the News, and are available online at www.pottercountynews.com and at www.sdpublicnotices.com