City Council Meeting 3.13.23
March’s first city council meeting saw all but Councilman McCain present. Mayor Sykes called on the department heads present to give a report on their respective departments. Library Director Shasta Hochstrasser reported on the recent success of a book sale held by the friends of the library at the library. Next, Police Chief Thompson shared that the last of the new vehicles ordered for his department were scheduled to arrive on Friday the 17th. Next, Brock Cherry addressed the council and informed those present that the applicants for the planned car wash next to the new Taco Bell picked up their building application, and visible construction will likely commence soon.
Next, Betsy Hiddleston updated those present on the most recent plan for the state of the city. She explained that it is nearly finished, but that some department heads would have to re-record their segments due to wind interfering with audio. She also noted that the master transportation plan survey was successful, has closed, and that the results would soon be published. Hiddleston also took the opportunity to pass accolades on to Mr. Cherry, who was recognized in the Idaho Business Review’s community development power list.
Fire Chief Moore briefly addressed the council, and introduced a guest, Meridian’s Fire Chief, who briefly spoke to the council about heat sensors in garages.
Lastly, Mayor Sykes announced that Hampton Wright has retired from the URA, and gave Mr. Wright the city’s thanks.
Before proceeding to the rest of the meeting, Councilman Brennan addressed the mayor and council expressing his distaste following a lack of response to an email he sent in support of a request from Councilwoman Garvey for a special meeting. Garvey’s original email, which was sent to the city clerk, treasurer, mayor, attorney, and all other council members, read, “Mayor and Council, I am requesting a special council meeting next week to discuss using ARPA funds as a short-term loan to the city vs. obtaining a commercial loan.” The request came following a previous city council meeting which saw a council divided on decided on a vote to use ARPA funds for fiber projects in Mountain Home. Councilman Brennan’s supporting email read, “Just in case you need it, I fully support and also request a special council meeting.”
Councilman Brennan and Councilwoman Garvey both claim that they received no response from any of the email’s recipients.
Mayor Sykes confirmed that the two were not given a response. In the meeting, Councilman Brennan stated, “I flat out got ignored,” a sentiment which was seconded by Councilwoman Garvey. In a phone call with Councilman Brennan, he stated, “If the mayor doesn’t want to meet, he stonewalls us.” Councilwoman Garvey expressed, “We want the facts, we want to do it right.” When asked if the city typically responds to emails from city council members, Mayor Sykes stated, “We always respond.” He noted that some recipients of the email were out of town and that three council members must request a special meeting in order for one to be held. He stated, “It is just Brennan grandstanding saying we did something wrong, If he had a problem why didn’t he come to my office to talk to me,” and “It is grandstanding, but I don’t care, I’m tired.” In the meeting, Mayor Sykes stated that he understood the comments made by Councilwoman Garvey and Councilman Brennan.
The council then moved or to the consent agenda, pulling two items.
Councilman Brennan started a discussion regarding background checks for employees of the carnival planned in Mountain Home. All members of the council ultimately decided to reject the carnival’s application for a license until a more thorough application that included background checks for certain positions is brought forward.
Following this discussion, Rich Urquidi, the Council, Mayor, and others present discussed a request from a business just outside the western city limits that was requesting city sewer services. Due to an adjacent landowner declining annexation, the property owner sought city services in lieu of a private septic system. Mr. Urquidi strongly expressed his support of providing city services and noted the positive impact doing so could provide for future western growth of the city.
After some discussion, the council unanimously decided to extend an existing contract with the Mellen Water District until June 30th to allow for the city and water district to negotiate terms of an updated contract.
Lastly, after lengthy discussion on the topic, the council unanimously approved a new ordinance request from the fire department to require building plans for homes with garages to include rate of rise heat sensors that are more effective in garages than traditional fire alarms. It was noted that no additional monetary or labor burden would be placed on the city. The goal is proactive fire safety, and the ordinance will make Mountain Home a pioneer of sorts in the State of Idaho for this type of technology. Following an executive session, the council adjourned.