Full council met last week

The Yuma City Council was represented by a full seven members for the first time since earlier this summer, when it held its regular meeting last week.
The virtual meeting was the first for new council members Marylu Smith-Dischner and Steve Hoch. Both were appointed by the council members at its previous meeting. There had been two openings since early July when Luke Goeglein and Bryson Chrismer resigned.
Also participating in the virtual meeting on Zoom were Mayor Ron Swehla and council members Daniel Ebersole, Dan Baucke, Tim McClung and Mark Shay.
Last week’s meeting started out with an executive session to receive legal advice from City Attorney Kathryn Sellars, in regards to requests from the Yuma Museum Board of Directors.
The council took action in regards to the museum project later in the meeting. A motion was approved moving forward with donating $12,500 to the museum with the stipulation that if the museum does not get its grant, the money will come back to the city to be held until the museum goes for another grant next year.
A motion to authorize the mayor to execute the grant application was approved, as well as a resolution authorizing the museum construction project. The museum is pursuing a $50,000 grant this fall to fix the roof, with a plan of continuing renovations in phases as more grants become available.
The council previously had approved a variance request and minor subdivision for the residences located at 401 and 405 S. Ash St., as submitted by Barbara Thompson. It then passes a resolution at last week’s meeting that ratified the approval of the variance.
A change to The Orphanage’s art gallery permit issued some discussion. In January, the council had approved five dates in 2020, as submitted by owner Richard Birnie. However, there is a conflict with the October 3 date, so Birnie requested it be amended to October 4.
The council approved the amended date, but Baucke asked if there was not a simpler way for Birnie to go through the process. Sellars said the rules for art gallery permits requires specific dates. She said the authority to approve the dates each year could be shifted from the council to the city clerk, but that would the passage of an ordinance.
Nelson Inn’s liquor license renewal was approved unanimously.
The first reading of an ordinance regarding a new franchise agreement with Black Hills Energy was approved. It is a 15-year agreement, as was the previous one. City Manager Scott Moore noted that the franchise fee is increasing from 2 to 3 percent. The agreement will be reviewed every five years.
A resolution for a training agreement with Anne Templar was approved unanimously. The city will pay for Templar, a EMT, to go to school to become a licenses paramedic, in exchange for working for at least three years for the Yuma Ambulance Service. The city has entered similar agreements twice before.
The council agreed to continue waiving the credit card fee for people using cards to pay their bills. It has been brought before the council monthly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last spring. McClung made a motion to continue waiving the fee as long as the city is under a state mandate, instead of it coming before the council monthly. City Clerk Karma Wells told the council paying with credit cards has been consistent over the past five months, with about 350 to 400 customers paying that way. Credit card payments have ranged from $67,000 to $88,000. Waiving the fee is costing the city about $1,200 to $1,400 per month.
Police Chief Jerry Thompson asked for approval to spend $16,940 in grant funds to make improvements at the shooting range. The council unanimously approved the request. Thompson said the money will be used install four inches of road base, with the ultimate goal of paving it with asphalt so it could be a multi-use facility instead of just a shooting range.
Moore updated the council on the N. Main St. project. He explained there had been a lot of struggles with old valves. He “hot taps” were done twice, at $6,500 each. He suggested looking into budgeting funds to buy a machine so the city could do its own hot taps as it continues to replace water mains throughout town into the future, rather than paying someone else to do the hot tap.
McClung, who sits on the Landfill Board, reported that at the last landfill meeting a group from Wray was proposing a $6 per month fee to put recycle locations around Wray. He also said plastics are filling the landfill, but recycling no longer is being done because there is no money in it.
McClung also represents the council on the Yuma County Water Authority Board, which meets the same night as the Landfill Board. He said the RRWCD had an eye-opening presentation about the drawing down of the Ogallala Aquifer.
The council’s next meeting is September 15.