The following actions and discussion points were addressed at the April 8 Harris City Council meeting.
Gambling ordinance, dealing with complaints
The first discussion points before the Harris City Council Monday night were items that the Planning Commission had been working on.
The gambling ordinance had been before the council at a prior meeting. It was determined at that meeting there were too many variables to consider before approving such an ordinance, so the commission revisited the ordinance and brought a streamlined version back to the council.
The main clause of the ordinance is that the city will impose a 3 percent tax on the gross proceeds generated. The rest of the ordinance revolved around this clause.
The enforcement of gambling ordinances is done at the state level and any stipulations or regulations imposed by the city would be redundant. The council will administer the distribution of the funds raised annually.
The next item the planning commission had dealt with previously and brought to the council was the protocol of how the city will handle complaints.
A new procedure ensures that any complaint will be dealt with.
The person filing a complaint will fill out a report form, which has already been drafted. A protocol and necessary steps to resolve issues are spelled out in the report’s instructions. The appropriate city official will complete and return the form to the city clerk, who will then present it to the council.
There was a question as to whether the person filing the complaint should have to give his or her name. The person filing the complaint might fear retaliation if his or her name is on the form and it’s readily available, according to city officials.
Once filed, the forms do become available to the public and the council will keep the complainant as confidential as possible while still complying with applicable laws.
In other news, the council:
• Addressed personnel issues. For the past few years, Richard Hanson has been the caretaker of the Oak Grove Cemetery for the city. Hanson is requesting a replacement be hired, so over the next year the new caretaker can be trained. The council decided to offer the position to a local man who has expressed interest in the position.
• Continues to look for someone to fill a vacant public works position. Harris Fire Chief Trevor Williams had expressed an interest in the part-time job, but had to clear it with the company by which he is employed. Williams’ present employer was unable to adjust his schedule to work out the necessary time, so Williams had to decline the position.
Three applicants had been interviewed for the position, but the city deemed none of them were adequate to fill the job. The council decided to table the issue to the May meeting. In the interim, Williams will work evenings and weekends to take care of pressing public works duties.
• Addressed future planning. During the past four years, the council has worked at stabilizing city finances. There were a number of items Mayor Diane Miller thought needed to be addressed. She said the fire department has gear that should be replaced every 10 years. The department is presently on the fifth year of that timeline.
Miller then noted the city should be thinking about a roads improvement plan — what roads should be improved and when, and how much should be spent and where.
She said the water tower should be cleaned every three years. The last time it was cleaned was 2009. The inside and outside need to be painted so it doesn’t rust through, she said.
The council decided the initial step to address the planning items was to have a workshop. The council members said the Park and Recreation Committee and the Planning Commission should be invited. At the workshop, groups could be established to determine in what direction the city should move.