Contracts approved by council
Monetary issues past and present topped the agenda at the Cheney City Council’s Dec. 10 meeting.
The council approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Tom Trulove to sign a new four-year contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The contract gives a 1.5 pay increase to the city’s electrical crew in 2014, 2 percent in 2015, 2.5 percent in 2016 and 2.75 percent in the final year of the agreement.
The contract also changes some of the language in the former agreement the city considered “problematic,” Human Resources Director Mark Schuller explained. One of those areas was in regards to the amount of overtime hours by Light Department personnel performing electrical disconnects or hookups.
Schuller gave as an example a customer coming in right before the department closes as 3:30 p.m. and wanting a hookup performed. The solution in the contract was to change the department hours from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Council approved an ordinance establishing agreed upon budgeted salaries for 2014; including salaries negotiated in labor contracts and a 2 percent increase for non-represented employees. Schuller said the “little bump” in pay was the first increase non-represented employees have had in over a year.
Council also approved the city’s fifth budget amendment in 2013, moving money from designated accounts into the expense ledger to the tune of $786,200. Finance Director Cindy Niemeier said the amount seemed large because $600,000 was in the Light Department to pay higher than expected electrical power purchase bills.
The department pays bills one month after the needed power is purchased and before charging city customers. Niemeier said that because of the recent stretch of extremely cold weather, Light Department Director Joe Noland expressed concerns about having enough cash to pay December’s bill in January.
Finally, the council approved an ordinance transferring an outstanding $165,850 interfund loan between the Parks and Recreation Department and the General Fund. The General Fund is unable to carry the loan into 2014, Niemeier explained, and needs to transfer the loan, which will be repaid over seven years with 1.5 percent interest, to the Light Department.
“It gives the Light Department a higher interest rate return than they would normally receive,” Niemeier said.
In other business, the council approved authorizing the mayor to approve a Fire Department application for a $68,000 grant through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program. The application asks for a $3,400 match from the city, and would be used to replace the Fire Department’s current 30-minute air supply oxygen bottles with 45-minute bottles, creating a larger margin of safety for firefighters.
“(It) would cover all the bottles and the equipment to retrofit the frames,” Fire Chief Mike Winters told council.
Council also approved a resolution committing funding resources for specific uses according to standards established by the Government Accounting Standards Board. Niemeier said the city commits money to specific funds at specific levels instead of sending the revenue to the general fund, it needs to also agree that the decision to do so will be made “by the highest level of decision making authority.”
“This is the exact same document you approved a year ago,” she said.
The council also approved appointment of individuals to several boards. Kelley Cullen and Mike Stark were approved to the Park Board, Betty Hull, Fred Lauritsen and Scott Wilbanks to the Historical Preservation Commission and Bob Lincoln to the Civil Service Commission, all reappointments to three-year terms.
Vince Barthels and Keith Fauerso were reappointed to four-year Planning Commission terms while Vara Lyn Conrath was a new appointment to the commission, also a four-year term.
Finally the city acknowledged the service of building inspector Bob McClure, who is retiring after 20 years of service with Cheney.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.