At the regularly scheduled Burns City Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 8, the council approved a motion directing City Manager (CM) Dauna Wensenk to solicit for engineering fees for a street analysis.
The street analysis would describe the condition of the city’s streets and identify an estimated funding amount required to repair, maintain, and improve the city’s streets.
During a work session earlier in the evening, the council discussed implementing a transportation fee to generate revenue for street maintenance and lighting. It was explained that unlike a gas tax, which must be referred to the voters for approval, the transportation fee may be implemented by city ordinance. The transportation fee is a monthly fee based on the use of the transportation system that is collected from residences and businesses within the city, not property owners, and would be collected through the city’s regular utility billing system.
Once the engineer’s analysis is complete and the council receives the report, it could determine the amount of funds desired to be obtained through the transportation fee.
At that time, an ordinance could be prepared to implement the transportation fee. The ordinance would include provisions concerning, among other things, the purpose of the fee, charges and collection, implementation, enforcement, and waivers or exemptions.
The council approved a donation of $125 to the Kids Club of Harney County for their Diamonds in a Glass fundraiser, and a $100 donation to the 2017 Harney County Fair and Rodeo Queen Caylyn Gilmer.
Councilor Terri Presley stated that when the council receives a donation request, she would like to see the person or a representative from the organization who is making the request attend a council meeting to answer any questions the council may have.
Public Works Director Pedro Zabala reported his department had been busy plowing snow and performing maintenance on the snow removal equipment. He stated his crew plowed 34 inches of snow off city streets in the month of January, and a total of 62.5 inches so far this snow year.
Zabala also thanked the public for their understanding when the plows put snow in front of driveways.
In her city manager’s report, Wensenk stated she had advertised for the cemetery/public works position and Zabala was reviewing the applications. Interviews would be set up for the following week.
She has been meeting with department heads to discuss what precautionary measures the city can take to avoid flooding should the snow come off in a rapid manner. She added a meeting was scheduled with other city and county officials to discuss the spring runoff, and they are trying to locate sandbags should they be needed.
There will be a meeting in March to discuss putting in a new well at the airport and possible funding for the project.
Wensenk said the lawsuit brought against the city by Doug Muck had been settled, and if councilors had questions, they could contact her individually.
Councilor Liz Appelman reminded the council they had talked about moving the public comments portion of the meetings to earlier in the agenda, and she pointed out that the Burns Municipal Code states the public comments portion should be held earlier as well.
Wensenk explained that previous councils did have the public comments earlier, but at some point in time, the council voted to move them to near the end of the meetings.
Appelman made a motion to move public comments to an earlier time in the meeting agenda, and following a discussion, the council voted 6-1 to approve the motion.
In other business:
• Jan Cupernall told the council she has been keeping the fire hydrant near her residence clear of snow, but the plows keep covering it back up. She asked if there was a way to mark the hydrant so it doesn’t keep getting buried with snow? She suggested that maybe the people performing community service could keep hydrants clear.
Wensenk said there were people working to keep the hydrants around town clear of snow, and she took down Cupernall’s address to see what could be done;
• Councilor Charity Robey expressed concern about flooding on North Broadway, and asked who was responsible for flood control in the city?
Zabala answered the city is responsible for the “main street,” and ODOT is responsible for the highway. He said the “bubblers” installed several years ago are not performing correctly with this much moisture.
Councilor Gary Estep added if the bubblers are kept clean and are not frozen, they do work.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at city hall.