The June 1 Ostrander City Council meeting found all members present: (Stephanie Start, Dan Hellerud, DJ Start, Vernon Thompson, Mayor Pam Kunert), along with Jeremy Runkle and City Clerk Wendy Brincks. The council heard from the city’s insurance provider agent (Ann Keim) who addressed the council about whether or not the city wishes to waive the torte limit. This determines for how much the city can be sued, and she explained that cities need to decide this each year. She said most smaller cities do not waive the limit, and Ostrander never has either. She added that if Ostrander ever decides to waive the limit, the city would likely need more insurance coverage at that time. After brief discussion, the council voted to not waive the limit.
The council discussed the topic of designating an “enforcement officer” for Ostrander at great length. Wendy Brincks explained that among cities such as Ostrander that only have the sheriff’s department for their law enforcement, some hire/designate a particular officer who then would focus on enforcing whatever ordinances that city felt were the biggest challenges. Council members mentioned a variety of issues that continue to arise frequently in Ostrander, including unlawful use of golf carts and ATVs on city streets, dogs on the loose, excessive cats (including feral cats), unlicensed/uninsured vehicles, and burning of garbage in town.
Brincks pointed out that, “So, a golf cart has to have liability coverage and somebody 16 and older driving. The ATVs (we don’t allow UTVs) must be registered with the state and insured, and then registered with the city.” Brincks pointed out that although the sheriff’s department can and does enforce these ordinances, the city may have more focused oversight and enforcement if a specific officer was assigned to this duty. She added that when the city had Tom Mosher as the city’s police chief, he was able to focus on whatever specific issues the city asked him to watch for. Ann Keim shared her concern that if the city has ordinances, but cannot show reasonable and consistent efforts at enforcement, then the city could be at risk for future liability, such as if an underage/unlicensed operator caused an accident while driving a golf cart in town. No formal decision was made by the council at this time, but Brincks said the city attorney will attend July’s council meeting, so council members could discuss any “enforcement officer” questions at that time.
On a related topic, Brincks said a citizen has asked a question related to the city’s ordinance on storage of unlicensed/uninsured vehicles. She summarized that the ordinance states that such vehicles must either be stored indoors or removed from within city limits. She said a citizen has asked if it would be allowable to simply cover such a vehicle with a fabric “car cover.” The council consensus was that this does not meet the ordinance, so would not be considered in compliance.
Jeremy Runkle informed the council of a concern regarding the city’s “burn pile.” He said, “My burn permit only allows me to burn a 25 by 25 by 20 foot chunk at a time, so we’re going to have to figure out some way to tear that pile apart so that I can burn it.” He estimated the current pile at 25 by 25 by 150 feet, and added that he is only allowed to have one fire going at a time.
The council agreed to have the city check into hiring someone to come in with an excavator to separate the pile as needed to comply with the burn permit. Brincks added, “The second week of July is Mud Bogs, and it’s gotta be gone by then.”
Runkle informed the council that the bathrooms at the ball diamond will only be unlocked when ball games are being played, and that the keys and supplies will be at the concession stand.
The council’s next regular meeting will be Tuesday, July 6, at 6:30 p.m., in the community center. The public is welcome at all meetings, other than special closed meetings.