By Lukas Eggen Ely Times Staff Writer
The Ely City Council voted unanimously to override Mayor Jon Hickman’s veto to remove Jim Alworth as City Clerk during its meeting last Thursday. The city council also voted to cap the amount of money being spent on an outside attorney looking for ethics violations against Councilman Marty Westland.
Westland did not take part in the discussion or vote.
Attorney Scott Husbands was hired by the city to look into three possible ethics violations and billed the City for $1,380 for work already performed.
“I didn’t put it on the agenda to stop it, so I make a motion to put a cap of $1,380 on the money that we spend on an attorney to investigate the ethics violations against Councilman Westland,” Councilman Bruce Setterstrom said. “If you want to continue the investigation and use your money and not the city’s money, that’s fine. I don’t agree with spending the city’s money on an investigation that anybody can call the ethics board and make an ethics charge and they’ll investigate it.”
Comments from the public supported this stance and also called into question the motives behind the original motion to hire outside council to investigate three possible ethics violations.
Husbands said the decision “effectively ties our hands in the investigation” and attempts to schedule interviews with Westland were postponed twice because of scheduling conflicts with Westland’s attorney.
“Had we done that, we wouldn’t be assessing a cap right now, we’d be assessing our findings,” Husbands said.
But Setterstrom reiterated he’s not trying to stop an investigation.
“I don’t think the city needs to spend any more money on this,” Setterstrom said. “That’s my point. Not that you’re not doing a good job. Not that he’s guilty or innocent or that he’s my friend. I don’t think the citizens of Ely want to spend money on frivolous things like this when they can do it for free.”
The City Council also voted on the following items:
• Approval to hire within for a Public Works Director to be in charge of and to direct the following departments: Water, sewer, street parts and recreation.
• Approval to allow the White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation to use the City of Ely weed sprayer when it is available for spraying weeds on railroad property.
• Tabling discussion/possible action of the request by Ferrel Hansen and DeMont Hansen to terminate their lease of 18,83 acres at the Georgetown Ranch from the City of Ely.
• Approval to waive water and sewer connection fees for the White Pine County Aquatics Center.
• Approval to raise the water testing rates the City of Ely charges the McGill-Ruth Consolidated Sewer and Water General Improvement District to $20 for each additional sample after the first.
• Tabling consideration of White Pine County regional Transportation Commission’s street paving priority list within the City of Ely, including future plans for paving High Street from the Convention Center up to First Street.
• Approval of review of the City of Ely Policy on standards for patching utility digs in the City Streets.
• Approval to pay the City of Ely’s FY 2013-14 membership dues to the Nevada League of Cities in the amount of $1,626.40.
• Approval to award bids of surplus vehicles, equipment and material as advertised in The Ely Times.
• Approval of modifications to the City of Ely Corral lease agreement.
• Quashed consideration to retain the present baseball backstop at Broadbent Park and re-install the baseball diamond. New, portable backstops will be purchased.
• Approval to hire two full-time temporary employees who will work through Sept. 30 in order to complete the street department’s seasonal summer work, The employees are expected to be paid between $12 and $15 an hour.
• Tabling possible approval to get needed hot asphalt patching of utility digs in the City of Ely done as soon as possible.
• Approval to do pave backs tentatively scheduled in the City of Ely at an estimated cost of approximately $118,896.07. The city council ordered Street Supervisor Stork and City Engineer B.J. Almberg to use cold mix where possible instead of hot mix, which Councilman Setterstrom will save the City significant amounts of money.
• Approval of consideration of the use of city vehicles, including taking vehicles home and using them for personal errands. The city forbade the use of city vehicles for personal use.
• Approval to receive monthly reports regarding the number and type of new business license applications.
• Approval to receive an annual review of Home Occupation and Special Use permits.
• Approval of the first reading of Ordinance 661, Bill No. 2013-07 which amends Ely City Code 1-5-5A to indicate that the date and time of Ely City Council regular meetings may be changed by resolution.
• Approval for the Ely City Council to apply to the Nevada Department of Transportation Adopt A Highway litter removal program.
• Approval of the second reading of Ordinance No. 658, Bill No. 2013-04, which establishes a cross connection control for all but residential users of the City of Ely’s water system to prevent backflow and backsiphonage into the City of Ely’s water system.
• Approval of the second reading of Ordinance 659, Bill No. 2013-05, which amends Ely City Code Chapter 4-2-5 and Ordinance 648 by amending paragraph A to indicate that a person may receive a complete credit from his or her obligation to pay landfill fees to the City of Ely when said person takes his or her refuse to another landfill and pays fees to said landfill for the time period in which he paid fees to the other landfill.
• Approval of the second reading of Ordinance 660, Bill No. 2013-06, which amends the C-2 zone to allow for hospitals and other related medical facilities without a Special Use permit.
The next City Council meeting is 4 p.m. July 25.
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