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Days Inn transient room taxes discussed
by Randy Parks
After receiving three bids for a parks mower, the Burns City Council voted to accept the lowest bid from SS Equipment in Hines.
The bid from SS was for a Bad Boy mower with a Kawasaki engine in the amount of $7,998. ACW’s bid was for a Husqvarna model in the amount of $9,150, and the third bid was received from Kubota for around $10,000.
City Manager (CM) Don Munkers said that money for the mower would primarily come from the parks fund, but because it will also be used to mow around city wells, a portion of the funds would also come from the water fund.
Before the vote, the council asked Public Works Director Dave Cullens for his opinion on the Bad Boy mower, and Cullens said it is a “pretty well-built mower, with a heavy deck and four rails on the frame instead of just two.”
Councilor Dan Hoke asked Cullens if he was comfortable going with a Kawasaki engine, and Cullens stated that their choices were between Kawasaki or a Biggs & Stratton engine. “The people I talked to said the Kawasaki would outlast the Briggs & Stratton,” Cullens said.
CM Munkers told the council that the Days Inn in Burns was behind in its transient room taxes to the city, and he had met with the owner earlier in the week to discuss payment.
Munkers said Days Inn had missed two or three months’ payments in 2012, and the city had received no payments for the present year. The cumulative amount owed to the city was more than $14,000 with interest and penalties.
Munkers said the owner proposed paying $7,000 and have the city waive the remainder owed. After being told the city couldn’t waive the tax, the owner proposed that the city pay the 3 percent credit card tax, and again he was told, “No.”
Munkers said the owner did make the $7,000 payment and was invited to the council meeting (on May 8) to ask the council to waive the interest and penalty fees.
The owner failed to show up for the meeting and still owes the remaining balance.
CM Munkers reported that Citycounty Insurance Services (CIS) offers a risk management incentive program, and during a recent evaluation, found a problem with the diesel fuel fumes left behind after the fire trucks leave the station on a call.
Fire Chief Scott Williamson said that they could put in two new doors and openers for $8,962. Part of the funds would come from the CIS program, and the remainder from the fire and police departments.
Councilor Bill Renwick asked about clearing the exhaust fumes from the building after the trucks left, and Williamson said the exhaust fans are tied into the door system and would continue running for 10 minutes after the doors closed to air out the building.
Councilor Terri Presley noted there are three doors on the fire station, and Williamson said they can only afford to have two replaced this year, but will look at replacing the third in the next budget cycle.
In his manager’s report, Munkers said he spoke with Rep. Greg Walden’s office about the flood plain designation issues in the downtown area, and that conversation is ongoing.
At the previous council meeting, Judy Martin had asked the council about the legality of motorhomes parking overnight on city streets and in vacant lots. After researching the city ordinance, Munkers said it is a “definition issue,” and the ordinance would have to be updated. He added that he talked with the police department about visiting with the owners of motorhomes who do park overnight.
The council had some discussion on the difference between a motorhome parked on private property, like a business parking lot, and those parked in a vacant lot.
Councilor Hoke said he would hesitate to get involved with private property because some business owners do allow it. He said if the city asked those people to move, it might portray an “unfriendly community” image.
The council agreed to review the ordinance and make updates as needed.
In other business:
• Burns resident Brad Herrera told the council the potholes and cracks in the street in the area of South Egan and West Pierce are getting to be problematic. He said one pothole he measured was 3 1/2 inches deep, and there was a crack four or five inches wide.
Cullens said the city does have some pothole patch, and they would be out soon working on the potholes and cracks;
• Jennifer Gregg was in attendance to ask the council to vacate a road and alleyway that run through her property. She told the council the two areas had been platted, but never put in, and she did get signatures from neighbors within 200 feet of the property.
Gregg was asked to follow the procedures laid out by the city and come back to the council;
• Councilor Hoke said the trees scheduled to be planted in the cemetery this spring were in, and work on eradicating the “sage rats” in the cemetery is continuing.
“There are considerably less rats than last year,” he said.
Hoke also told the council that on May 19, about 150 volunteers from Faith Baptist Church would be out in the community working on a variety of projects;
• Mayor Craig LaFollette said having a code enforcement officer in town seems to be working, and he thanked all the citizens who are making an effort to clean up around their residences.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at city hall.