By Aaron Eberle
On Tuesday, December 6, the City Council held a regular meeting at 7 p.m.
Councilwomen Carla Schepler and Barb Strozewski both had a conflict of interest concerning the renewal of Fresh Start’s liquor license. They are both employed by Fresh Start.
Councilwoman Sandra Woodward read a statement about public comment conduct. This was to ensure that City business could be conducted as effectively and timely as possible.
It stated the following:
Stand at the podium when asked to speak. Speak clearly calmly and with respect. No threats or badgering of the council or mayor are allowed. A person would be escorted from the meeting.
Comments were to be kept to three minutes or less. Onyl one person at a time could speak. Public comment does not require council response.
No action from the council would be taken. Comments made during the business portion of the meeting would be concerning the agenda item being discussed only. People were asked to raise their hands and approach the podium so they could be heard when they had a question.
Deputy Steve Yenulonis gave the law enforcement report. Woodward asked Yenulonis what a particular vandalism call was about. Yenulonis stated that they had found some Christmas decorations that had been tampered with. They suspected juveniles were involved.
Yenulonis stated to the council, as well as the general public, that they have had people stop them and report things that happened two or three weeks prior. Yenulonis asked them to call or speak to them as it happens. It is much easier to investigate at the time, then two or three weeks later.
Strozewski stated during the law enforcement committee report that they felt that had gotten everything worked out on the contract with Sheriff Evans and have submitted it to the county commissioners for their approval.
Mayor Carl Shaw stated that he had done some investigating on other communities’ law enforcement and had some numbers to present to the council.
Below are figures per month that is paid to the officers:
Hill City: $3,235.53
Crawford, Nebr.: $5,529.92
New Underwood: $3,922
Piedmont is on a when needed basis.
Mayor Shaw stated that he would like the law enforcement to get together with Sheriff Evans again to talk about numbers.
Strozewski didn’t understand why Shaw was still pushing the money issues. She felt that they had already gotten to a stopping point by turning the contract over to the county.
Shaw stated that he was checking with other towns so they knew how to compare. Shaw also felt like he was taking initiative.
Strozewski felt that she didn’t want the information, but Councilman George West and Councilwoman Carla Schepler were both interested in the information.
West said that the money and hours with Fall River Sheriff’s office did get brought up during negotiations. West feels that the money they were paying was kind of high, but if they had more hours of service, it could be more possible. West feels that it would have been nice to have more time to work on this. West also stated that Commissioner Joe Allen asked for numbers that Shaw had found at one point.
Schepler felt that Shaw was just letting them know about the other towns and she has been curious about this.
Woodward has often wondered why Fall River County was so much higher than some other counties. She felt as a taxpayer, she has a right to know and question figures. Woodward thinks that when negotiating contracts, you should be informed.
Strozewski stated that she didn’t start the initial contract with Fall River County, but has been on the law enforcement committee for a long time. Strozewski felt that money has never been an issue before now. She felt that the sheriff’s department has been doing a good job and they should be moving forward at this point.
Strozewski also felt that she did not want to be a part of negotiations again. She felt that they had agreed upon everything and that they were done. Sheriff Evans agreed with her.
Evans also added that there have been a few weeks that they have been under 30 hours per week. Most of the time they are over that.
George Eberle asked if any of them had seen contracts from other cities. Some had seen them. Eberle felt that by comparing these contracts, it was like trying to compare a good apple to a bad apple. Eberle also wondered why they did not have any of this information before they did. Jason Shook agreed with Eberle.
Woodward asked Schepler and West if they agreed to the money they had been paying while in negotiations. West replied that they had. They had tried to find out more but couldn’t find anything else at the time.
Ann McDermand has heard the views of different people and watched some of the official tapes. McDermand felt that the public prompted Shaw to get the extra information. She wanted to make it clear that Shaw could sit in on committee meetings and that he could ask questions. She also felt that after the commitee had agreed on something, they should bring it out of the meeting, to the council, so it could be voted on.
Wayne Piper didn’t recall asking for extra figures. Piper feels that now is not the time to bring them up. He feels that the back payment of $86,249.97 to the county is a breech of contract. Piper is very disappointed that this non-payment was not caught before now and ashamed to call Edgemont his home.
Piper also feels that they needed to pay what is owed, as well as get a new contract signed. He felt that if he owed that much money to someone, Evans would have every right to lock him up.
Linda Kluender was embarrassed about the non-payment to the county. Kluender wondered why and if the city had the money to pay it. The city did have the money.
Kluender went on to say that she felt the comparison between other cities was a little to late and some of this should have started in June. Kluender feels that the sheriff’s department’s costs have went up and they have had increases, but the $115,000 that is paid by Edgemont has stayed the same for quite a while. Kluender also feels that the county probably thinks that the contract has been submitted for approval.
Lori Wieser also wondered why it had not been paid. Shaw stated that it was to get the sheriff’s attention. Wieser commented that if she didn’t pay her water bill, because she didn’t like how the trash was picked up to get the council’s attention, her water would be shut off. The sheriff’s office has stayed and provided service, even though they have not been getting paid.
Wieser asked if Shaw that it was the proper way to conduct business; Shaw stated that it was not.
It was asked if the council voted on not paying for the services. Shaw stated no they had not. Shaw made that decision.
Kluender felt that there are some people on the council that think that people are trustworthy. When they see the checks that the finance officer has laid out, they believe that they should all be there. She feels that it is not entirely the council’s fault for this.
Woodward did not feel that the sheriff’s office was doing their jobs back in March and blamed Strozewski for not getting the law enforcement committtee together for meetings to take care of this. Wieser did not think that it was entirely Strozewski’s fault.
Strozewki feels that some of this started back when Martha Jarman was no longer a deputy. Strozewski feels that no one picked Jarman apart, but others have been picked apart since. Strozewki also felt that Shaw wanted to create a job for Jarman and break the contract with the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office.
Evans state that he doesn’t have acess to county books. He found ot when everybody else did. Evans stted that the $115,000 goes to the auditor’s office and into the general fund. He does not see it in his budget. When asked if he received quarterly reports, Evans stated that he did, but has not seen the $115,000.
In other news:
Liquor License Renewals were a part of old business. They were tabled until a special meeting to be held on Monday, November 12, at 5:30 p.m.
The council accepted the resignation of Brenda Cullen.
Shaw recommended Paul Nelson for Ward I and Bill Kritzer for Ward II. They will be filling vacancies on the council. Council approved these choices. Nelson took his oath of office. Kritzer was unavailable at the time, but would take his oath at the next meeting.