HURRICANE – Hurricane High School organizations and the 600 North project took up the bulk of the discussion at the Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday night.
Booster Club Fundraising
The council resumed the discussion of the Hurricane High School Booster Club’s proposal to give city residents the opportunity to round up their power bill to the nearest dollar as a small donation to support high school athletics and activities, which began at the meeting two weeks ago.
City Manager Clark Fawcett opened the discussion by saying there is no mechanism in the city’s utility billing system to automatically round up to the nearest dollar and that, if implemented, the proposed fundraising vehicle would have to be a set dollar amount potential donors decided upon on a voluntary, opt-in basis.
Such a program, City Attorney Fay Reber said, is usually reserved for city-owned or city-sponsored activities. It would create additional costs to the city when it comes to auditing and it might open a “pandora’s box” with a flood of requests from other organizations wanting to do something similar, he said.
Booster Club President Mike Butler said he could get volunteers to do any work that would help defray any city’s costs.
Councilwoman Ethelyn Humphries said it is a great idea but that the city cannot discriminate and that the city might not be the venue through which to do it. Councilwoman Pam Humphries agreed. Councilman Darin Thomas floated the idea of the city donating to the Booster Club with discretionary funds but Butler said more money could be raised this way by willing community members.
City residents are happy to have a utility bill without any solicitation, Mayor John Bramall said.
Later, Thomas proposed the idea of trying it for a set amount of time, then assessing its feasibility after the trial period. Councilman Kevin Tervort made a motion to try it until June 1, 2015, and Fawcett added the caveat that there would be no solicitation in the bill, saying that the Booster Club should contact the community, letting them know that the option to donate through the utility bill will now be available. Reber said the city reserves the right to discontinue the program at any time and Fawcett said that the city would limit the opportunity just to the Booster Club for now.
When it came to a vote, Ethelyn Humphries said she would donate to it if it was approved but voted no because she feels it might open a can of worms with other organizations wanting to do the same thing. Pam Humphries, who admitted that she was formerly part of the Booster Club, also cast a negative vote, saying the city is not the right avenue for this type of fundraising. Thomas, Tervort and Darin Larson all voted in the affirmative, making the motion pass 3-2.
600 North Project
During the public forum, resident Cecile Rathbun voiced her displeasure over the shoddy-looking chip seal most recently completed over portions of 600 North, saying that Interstate Rock, the contractor, should be held accountable and fix the problem. Bramall and Tervort said there have been discussions with Interstate Rock about possible solutions and the contractor intends to do something about it. Fawcett said other chip seals have gone just fine, but something went awry with this one and that the estimates to repair it range from $90,000 to $400,000.
After Rathbun voiced her concerns, Thomas said that perhaps the city should not vote later on in the meeting to give Interstate the contract to send them a message.
When the vote to award the contract came up, City Engineer Arthur LeBaron said it should get it going because the public wants it, to which Ethelyn Humphries pointed out there are some who are not happy about it.
LeBaron further explained that if the city did not award Interstate Rock the contract, it would have to be put out for rebid and would ultimately cost more. Interstate Rock has done good things and has substantial resources, LeBaron said, despite the problems with the 600 North chip seal Rathbun brought to light.
Ethelyn Humphries said that since Interstate Rock has been on board with the project from the beginning, the city would be shooting itself in the foot not to proceed right now.
Ultimately, the council awarded Interstate Rock the project without a dissenting vote.
Members of the Hurricane High School Future Farmers of America chapter presented to the council about the Hurricane Valley School and Community Garden, thanking the city for its support. FFA members spoke about how much they’ve learned about growing crops and caring for animals through the community garden. Some of the positives from the community garden the FFA members highlighted include doing workshops for elementary students and selling produce from the community garden that go towards its operating costs.
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