City council - summer work and budget

Due to the July 4th holiday, the July city council meeting was held Tuesday, July 6.

The payment of current bills was approved, except for $500 of a $2,500 claim for advertisement for the matched bronc ride. The city will be looking for documentation that its yearly bill was to diminish by $500 each year, with the up-and-coming matched bronc ride organization to gradually assume all responsibility for advertising. The council did approve to pre-pay Philip Health Services, Inc. for two drug screening collections since PHSI requires such items to be paid for that day, rather than after the next meeting of an organization council.

The Haakon/Jackson County Fair board's special event application for an outdoor dance on August 7 has been amended. With extra security accounted for, the application was approved by the council.

On the subject of keeping of livestock animals within the city limits (Ordinance #15-508), the nuisance committee agreed that the council must enforce the city's ordinances. Such ordinances, with special event exceptions such as parades and wagon trains, have been on the books since at least 1909.

Building permits have been approved for Patsy Freeman - cleanout and realign boulevard rock, Larry Kochersberger - windows/doors replacement, Murray's Corner - install bollards around LP tank, Glenn Parsons - retaining wall replacement and concrete pad, Beau Ravellette - install basement wall anchors, LouAnn Reckling - sewer excavation, Tom Struble - 8'x8' shed, Hazel Thompson - rock placement in boulevard, Don Walker - 12'x25' garage, and Don and Tami Ravellette - egress windows, stabilize basement wall, landscaping and sprinkler system.

Approval was tabled for a building permit for a temporary fence at the Gem Theatre. The renter and landlord must be in agreement and "temporary" must be better defined.

The swimming pool replacement project is "gaining, slow but sure," according to Matt Reckling, public works director. The pit had to be dug deeper and re-packed with rock. The floor should be poured by July 14. "We started out behind, but I think it'll go pretty fast. He believes that any further rain should not slow the project.

For the separate pool deck replacement project, a change order of $7,472.15 was approved for the rise in costs of materials since the project was halted because of the pool collapse. The council has reviewed quotes for fence posts, railing and gates, lift pump and a 12'x16' storage shed.

The Philip airport will soon have runway striping done, as well as a fueling system upgrade.

The council discussed the possibility of utilizing a trailhead marker grant program. Still very much in an infant stage, plans will be looked into for placing historical information markers on walkways around the area. The city may head any grant application work, but the Horizons will be contacted about any walk that would be for physical activity as well as for the relating of history.

In review of the city budget through June 9, 2010, the year's total general fund budget of $1,281,835 has had 31.54 percent ($403,329.05) actually used to date. Of that, the total swimming pool department budget of $417,825 has been depleted of $47,907 so far, with 88.53 percent yet to used as the project gets underway.

According to Finance Officer Monna Van Lint, the sales tax revenue is the "highest ever we have had" at this point in the year. Philip has $10,272 more than at this time last year, a complement to Philip businesses. Records since 2002 show a continual increase in yearly sales tax revenue, except for last year which a total of $350,579.46 was a 1.98 percent decline from the previous year.

A city budget meeting will be July 26-28. The budget will be in place by the election that will accept or deny an opt out for the Philip Fire Protection District. If the district receives its mill levy, the city can simply not spend the $12,200 budgeted funds.

"Festival Days went off without a hitch. Same with the firemen's dance," said Police Chief Kit Graham. "Most everybody was on their best behavior." The city even received a thank you from the Philip Festival Days Committee.

As a direct result of an insurance audit, the police department and the city council has had to clarify the definition of excessive force, especially in the cases of intoxication or mental instability.

On June 22, between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., the street light on the northeast corner of South Wood Avenue and Oak Street was knocked down by a vehicle. An abandoned black Chevy pickup, last licensed in 2007, was impounded by the city police. Though the identity of the perpetrator is suspected, the person probably does not have insurance and probably cannot pay for damages. The city is looking into claiming title of the abandoned vehicle and reselling it, with the proceeds going toward compensation. The council decided to purchase two new lamp posts for a total of $6,500, with one to be a spare.

The next city council meeting will be Monday August 2, at 7:00 p.m. in the Haakon County Courthouse Community Room.