City Council takes control
Discussion about utility charges for unoccupied residences and businesses dominated the January 12 meeting of the Cottonwood City Council.
First up though was the installation of the new mayor and council members.
City clerk Carol Altman swore in Denis Duman as mayor. Duman then swore in Jack Duman as councilman.
After presentation plaques of appreciation to outgoing mayor Dawn Huntley and outgoing councilman Rod Behler, Denis Duman appointed Shelli Schumacher to fill the vacant council position. The council approved the appointment and the mayor swore in Schumacher.
Martin Fowler was elected as the new council president and will continue as water and fire commissioner. Jack Duman will be streets commissioner, Schumacher the land and buildings commissioner and Max Nuxoll will continue as sewer commissioner. Mayor Duman said he feels there’s a need for a sanitation commissioner as well and Nuxoll agreed to take that on feeling sewer and sanitation kind of go together.
On to the major topic of discussion. Mayor Duman provided some background, reading the city’s ordinances that state that all residences and businesses in Cottonwood will have a water hook-up and be charged with similar verbage in the ordinance. He went on to state that the city’s loan agreement for the water projects state that the city needs to keep a certain number of “equivalent dwelling units” to be able to repay the loan.
After some discussion with a large number of citizens in attendance, Schumacher and Fowler were appointed to a committee to look into some of the issues and have a special meeting in a couple of weeks to present their recommendations. A compromise suggestion that seemed to set well with the audience was to charge just the basic water rate to those unoccupied dwellings rather than water, sewer and sanitation. This would mean charges of about $22 as opposed to $57 per month.
The proposed special meeting will be announced and will be open to the public.
Annexation ordinances were read and approved for the airport and the Cenex Harvest States gas pumps property.
The airport annexation includes just the city’s airport property and none of the surroundings. According to state statutes, airports do not have to be contiguous to the city limits to be annexed. This allows the city to provide police and fire protection to the airport.
Alcohol beverage licenses were approved for the Royale Room, Country Haus, Riener’s Grocery and Cash & Carry.
Sam Richardson of USA Media was present about the cable franchise but the franchise agreement needs to be published before it can be acted on, so this was put off until next month. Richardson said they are working on getting high speed Internet access through the cable system but are still having some problems with the equipment. They are hoping to test it in Orofino this week and if that goes well they can work on the other communities they serve.
In reports, Fowler said that it likes like they’re getting a handle on the telemetry system and hopes it will be up and running this month. He said leakage was running about 25% this month with the 3.6 million gallons pumped being below the 10-year average for December.
Max Nuxoll reported they are having to pool extra water in the agri-forest due to there not being enough flow in the creek for usual discharge. They’re trying to draw the ponds down for expected snow melt runoff that will get into the sewer system.
Rod Behler reported they had a couple of chimney fires in the past month and sent the water truck to assist on the fire down Graves Creek. They have some training coming up for some of the firemen. Extrication training being one of the sessions.
There were no reports for streets, land and building, police or planning and zoning.
The next regular meeting of the council will be Monday, Feb. 9 with a special meeting prior to that yet to be determined.