The Pioche Town Board met for its regularly scheduled meeting on June 19.
Richard Decker asked when the golf course will get power back. Town manager Nathan Adams replied that Bevin Lister is working on the well and, when that work is complete, Adams will be able to finish the remaining power portion of the project. Decker also noted that last year it took thirteen hours to fill two tanks at the golf course. Given that this year it’s taking eighteen hours, he would like a regulator placed on the water. Adams said he would look into it.
Carol White presented a document of a study at the Recorder’s Office regarding how many poles have been replaced in the past ten years. White also spoke to the commissioners regarding the PPU manager combining the pool manager and office clerk positions, costing $1,000 per month. White further informed the commissioners that she has presented written complaints to the attorney general regarding the governing authority of PPU and Pioche Town Board.
As a result of Tayler Reifsnyder’s attempt to obtain a temporary protection order, White filed a criminal complaint against Adams for perjury. Since the district attorney will have a conflict of interest because he is the attorney for the county, the case will be sent to the attorney general.
During the minutes part of the meeting, Glenn Zelch’s manager report noted that the last month was spent welding patches on the water tanks.
During the public comments part of the meeting, Barbara Monk presented a written statement about her custom sewer bill.
Reifsnyder read a letter submitted by a customer complaining about the $20 disconnect notice. The board discussed the matter, noting the resolution about the fee set by the commissioner in 2014. There was disagreement as to whether ample time had been provided for customers to pay, as well as about whether the statement was a notice of a disconnect fee, versus an actual disconnect fee. The DA informed Reifsnyder that 10-day disconnect notices are not required to be certified but 48-hour notices to disconnect are. The verbiage of the letter was discussed, as was sending letters via certified mail.
Reifsnyder stated that since the disconnect notice fee began to be enforced in August 2017 there were $26,000 in utilities that people had not paid in June 2018. Almost a year later, there are approximately $9,000 in utilities that people have not paid. The discussion was tabled for the next meeting.
July’s financial report was presented and was seen to be beginning to reflect the rate increase though Adams noted that the yearly average is still losing money. Adams then read the Cash Balance report, in response to a request from Candice Mortenson.
Dave Luttrell gave a slideshow presentation and discussed the effects of deregulation and how it will affect the residents of Lincoln County. Patricia McClean, who moved here from California, stated that deregulation will not be in the favor of the public. Mortenson asked about websites supporting voting “no” on Question 3.
Adams stated that resident Ken Meyers has approached him in the past regarding relocating the power line, whose conduit has already been run; however, he has been waiting to discuss this with an electrical engineer to ensure the line is run with the correct amperage.
Zelch stated that the Buck Street project is a priority. Meyers commented that putting the conduit underground would be beneficial for him because it would allow him to build a second story on his residence. No action was immediately taken.
Adams explained that in 2004 the town board agreed that citizens would be charged $250 per day whenever the honor camp crew is used to do custom work. This was a substantial savings, given that the cost for a private individual would be approximately $650.
There was a discussion about Adams’s hourly rate, as set by the Pioche Town Board. It was asked if this is a bonus paid to the employees; Phyllis Robistow stated this money does not go to the employees; it is used to pay overhead costs for items such as insurance. There was extensive back and forth about providing a customer estimate before work is done, per Mortenson’s comments that no attempt was made to inform her that she would be charged. Mortenson reminded the board that the county commission does not have the authority to delegate setting rates and fees.
Zelch noted that whenever a customer calls someone to work on private property, there will be a cost and a non-PPU plumber will typically charge more, per Ron Hibble. Hibble suggested putting an employee on call for emergency situations and stated that PPU should be liable for charges which they did not inform the customer about prior to work being done. This led to a discussion between Danny Lloyd, Adams, Zelch, and Monk as to who is responsible for the lateral from the main to the property line.
Monk wanted to know what action would be taken on her sewer line, which she said now has a foul odor. A motion was then passed to put an item on next meeting’s agenda to discuss a policy for custom sewer repairs.
In other matters discussed at the meeting, Reifsnyder stated that a Lincoln County High School representative contacted her about renting the Pioche Pool for August 30’s Opening Social, hosting approximately 175 students. Given that the pool is budgeted to close on Aug. 7, Noah Smith was asked if the social’s date could be moved to the weekend of Aug. 7. Smith said he would look into the matter.
Cindy Free asked the board to table enacting the delinquent accounts policy until more people could read it. Reifsnyder then read the proposed policy aloud and Zelch noted that the number two needs to be changed to a three. A discussion was had about accrual of penalties; penalties won’t be assessed after small claims filings and lien filings. A motion was passed to table this policy for approval at the board’s next meeting.
Reifsnyder commented that she called the courthouse offices to inquire about prices for copies, which she read to the board. A motion was passed to leave the prices unchanged.
An action item regarding the beautification of Pioche was tabled until the next meeting.
A discussion was held regarding condemning a portion of Hamilton Street from the cemetery fence to Railroad Avenue. There was debate as to whether condemning the lot would hinder access to properties and the fire district. A motion was passed to approve the abandonment of the property through normal procedures.
During the meeting’s RTC update, Adams stated that the asphalt has been done on the curb and gutter down Gold Street.
During the chamber of commerce update, Mortenson addressed invasive weeds and the need for contacting Tri-County Weed Control.
An update was provided on Greenfield Environmental’s flood control. There are two mounds of dirt at the top of town that Mortenson believes should be removed by PPU. Adams stated that that is NDOT’s responsibility. There was discussion as to whether the board should write a letter. The item was tabled.
Per the manager’s report, the honor crew has been working on a broken water line in the roadway, new service installation, and plugged sewers. The summer help can work up to 1039 hours; therefore, they can work up to 40 hours per week. Panaca’s water workers will attend a free training. Probst electrical contractor has presented an estimate for work; another contractor is coming in from Wells to look at the job and provide an estimate.
Adams discussed the Buck Street project. Reifsnyder discussed the CUSI billing system, presenting a web portal demo which will allow customers to view accounts and pay online.
John Christian asked about the camera at the pool; it has been purchased but not installed. Mortenson suggested contacting Joseph Lamb to work on the cameras and the board agreed this was a good idea.
Adams discussed his decision not to have the loader repaired. He stated that it is still necessary to have a bucket truck and the backhoe; he is worried that if a large amount of money is spent to repair the loader then he won’t have enough in the budget to make any necessary repairs. It was suggested that it could be worth looking into a lease to purchase.
During the town board comments, Robistow announced her resignation as chair, though she will remain on the town board.
Christian stated a letter needs to be written to thank Lincoln County Road Department for the patch work they did in town. He discussed speaking with the employees regarding work being done, new installations, and jobs. He is in support of PPU beginning a more formal system which allows the office and manager to work together; once this system is formally developed it should be brought forward for the board to review.
Following a review of items for future meetings including a policy regarding custom sewer repairs/rate for the honor camp crew; a policy regarding delinquent accounts; clean up/ safety of Pioche; appointing a new chairperson and vice chair; and sending a letter to NDOT, the meeting was adjourned.