The Cawker City Council met on Wednesday evening July 12. Councilors Drew Duskie and Lisha Wiese were absent. Building permits were approved for Rick Stubbs, Lottie Herod and Marc Hake.
Auditor Michelle Huddle delivered the annual audit report for the city through December 31, 2016. She reviewed the financial status of the city and pointed out a bank error. She and City Clerk Denelle Mick have reviewed how to to remedy the issue and take steps to keep it from reoccurring.
Huddle suggested the city have three months in cash reserve for operating expenses. However, she said their spending in 2016 was enough below budget that they had sufficient reserves available even though not in a specific emergency fund.
She said the balance on electric utilities was improved with a positive balance in 2016 after a negative balance in 2015. Huddle then reviewed and explained her required submission letter to the state for the city’s financial position. She had no official recommendations as the city is in regulatory compliance with mandated guidelines.
City Superintendent Dave Reling asked how they should handle money taken in by the local fire department. Huddle said, as a non-budgeted fund, any such monies coming into the fire department should be run through the city books as opposed to a standalone account for the department.
The city clerk said that fuel cost adjustments for electricity is costing the city thousands of dollars per year due to paybacks. The council plans to address the issue moving forward and will consider making changes to help stop the bleeding, so to speak.
City of Downs Superintendent Terry Gradig invited the council and Mayor Litton to a meeting in Downs on Wednesday evening next week where a presentation will be made on a grant program promoting regionalization which could provide an avenue for the cities to consolidate their water resources.
City Attorney Chantz Martin discussed the Community Club building sale to a private investor who plans to open an antique store in what is the old American Legion Building. The local American Legion Post Commander said there is a small shed on the property which they wish to move since the building is being sold a non-city entity. The council seemed to agree that they had places available in which the shed could be relocated, but no official decision was made.
Reling then discussed recent well testing results. He said nitrates were at 7.47 which are not out of range on a max limit of 10 to scale. Iron and manganese levels were down considerably since the last test. Reling also said they were going to need to start rotating and replacing some tires on city vehicles.
Police Chief and Code Enforcement Officer Ken Moore provided a listing of abbreviations he uses in his capacity. Mayor Greg Litton asked about code issues with several code violations around town and gave him a go-ahead to address those issues as needed. Moore mentioned mobile homes that are out of compliance with city regulations. He said in the case of one out of compliance home that the owner has serious health complications which are keeping him from addressing the issues expediently. He was initially given a deadline of July 31 to have the issues resolved. However, the property may be sold soon and Moore is trying to work with the current owner to resolve the violations.
Moore said there were no serious issues with fireworks during the Independence Day holiday. The city currently does not allow aerial fireworks, and the council agreed to reconsider that issue at the May 2018 meeting.
The city’s public budget hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 9 at 7 p.m. prior to the city council meeting.
The Community Club asked for $500 from the city for their food stand during the Cawker City Picnic and Twine-a-Thon as is customary. Councilman Cole Eberle is also the Cawker City Community Club President. He discussed lumber costs for planks used for seating during the event. In years past they borrowed planks from Koster’s Lumber, but that is no longer an option as they closed the business last year. Eberle said the cost to purchase planks will run in the neighborhood of $450. There has also traditionally been a $318 donation made to the chili cookoff. Since there will be no cookoff this year, the council moved to donate the traditional $500 plus the $318 and another $32 for a grand total of $850 to the community club.
Ord. 1145 dealing with the payment of fines and costs for city court was approved. City Attorney Martin also notified the council that they needed to update the city code to reflect the increase from a $10 to a $30 fine for not wearing a seat belt as mandated by the state as of July 1.
Continuing discussion on implementing a city sales tax was tabled. If the council wishes to place a sales tax initiative on the general election ballot in November, they must approve it by September.
Mick also discussed the Façade Improvement Program through the NCRPC. The city has been approved for a $5,000 interest free loan, on a five-year term, through the program. She took the council outdoors to look at some of the potential areas which could be repaired at the city building. Primarliy windows.
The council then discussed replacing Municipal Judge Bonnie Wilson who has resigned. Options will be considered and a decision made at the next meeting. The city attorney said he would put out some feelers among his colleagues to gauge interest.