City approves spending of $90,000, looks into creating judiciary committee

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The Libby City Council approved plans to spend $80,000 on a camera to be used for locating sewer issues, voted to renew a $10,000 project planner contract and discussed creating a judiciary committee to prepare for the city judge’s ending contract, Monday at their regular meeting.

Jim Hammons, Libby city administrator, said the camera will be used by the city crew in the sewer mains. With this camera, workers can go in, videotape and find whatever problem is going on.

“We’ve got a lot of issues in these old mains,” he said,

City workers do not always know if it’s a tree root or a service line causing the problem, he said. They also do not always know where or how far back in the sewer mains issues arise.

Brent Teske, Mayor, said the city looked at a number of different cameras and demoed them before choosing one. The camera, an Envirosight ROVVER X 130 Crawler, is by far the best and most durable system out of what the city was able to view, he said.

The camera company, NorMont Equipment Co., is reputable and these cameras are used all over the place, he said. If parts of the camera do happen to need repairs, its parts are replaceable.

“I can’t imagine a total, catastrophic failure — unless something ate it under there,” he said.

Some of the costs include a $600 training and delivery fee and, if the city ever decided it needed new wheels for the Rover, replacements would be roughly $500 apiece.

Contractor funding

Council members also approved another $10,000 round of funds for an Independent Contractor Agreement. The council vote was split 3-to-3, and Teske cast a tie-breaking vote to approve the contract.

Tony Petrusha, a contractor from Cabinet Country Consulting LLC, updated council members on his progress, noting he still has approximately $25,000 of his original $30,000. The City of Libby, Lincoln County Commissioners and the Libby Park District each gave $10,000 last year to an account used to fund contractor services.

Projects Petrusha is working on include the Kootenai Wellness Aquatic Center, the Greater Libby Area Trails Plan and the Bridge of Voices; a chime installation on the haul bridge.

Petrusha estimated if he worked 15 to 10 hours a week, it would get the city well into 2020 with the already allocated $25,000 contract fund. “I’m a retired guy, I don’t wanna work that much,” he said.

Existing funds are ample for several months, he said.

As far as projects, “things are heatin’ up pretty well” as they become more developed, he said.

The pool has two proposals, one for a facility architect and one for a pool designer, he said.

In September, an estimate for the cost of the Aquatic Center will be made, he said. The estimate will include buildings costs, operation and maintenance expenses, and how much revenue is expected to be generated from pool fees.

According to the project report, there has been no decision on a location for the pool yet.

The plan for the Libby Area Trails is to get work done in Libby, rather than deal with conservation easements and things that are “really high in the skies politics,” he said.

Council member Kristin Smith said the tied vote was disappointing, because the project efforts being made are going to be very beneficial for the community.

“I really commend Tony — for making such headway and for doing it so inexpensively,” she said.

City judge

The council also discussed potentially opening up a hiring process for a new city judge.

Council member Peggy Williams said the current judge, Lucille Briggs, has not yet stated whether she intends to stay on for another term.

At the next meeting, council members need to decide if they want to handle this as ongoing business or if they want to have a committee that “does a lot of the leg work” and brings back a recommendation, she said.

It is disruptive to make the decision to keep or terminate someone’s job every year and there might be a better way of doing this, she said. If a new judge is chosen, there are steps they need to take, such as getting certified.

There is not any talk of finding a new judge, because information has not been put out for an application, she said. Briggs’ contract ends in September and the city should be prepared to reappoint her or appoint a new person by then.

It is not something council members should let slide until the last minute, Williams said. If the council decides to open up the application process, it would be good to have a more organized process of finding applicants.

Teske agreed that creating a committee could make dealing with the end of the judge contract a cleaner process. A committee would be able to “hash it out” and then bring a recommendation for the council.

“I think that’s a cleaner process,” he said.

In the past the city has had a judiciary committee, but it has since been dissolved, he said. The city forms these committees as needed.

Further business

Council members also spoke about progress on the small park near the Libby Police Department.

Scott Kessel, Libby police chief, asked the council to consider naming the park after former Libby Police Chief John Ferdinand Bockman, the only Libby officer killed in the line of duty.

Naming the park after him would be quite fitting, he said.

Hammons said the next addition to the park would probably be a security fence along its corner, by the electrical items. There also may be a muralist hired to paint a building wall near the park.

If a muralist was hired, most likely, they would be a local artist, Hammons said.

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