Latest News

Managing decline will be as complicated as oil boom growth

 

Posted 2/23/16 (Tue)

Managing decline will be as complicated as oil boom growth

By Cecile Krimm
A possible changing of the city guard, revenue concerns and planning and zoning issues dominated discussion at last week’s Tioga City Commission meeting.
In addition to hearing about a need for more budget cutbacks,  commissioners chose a city engineer and authorized an overhaul of some regulations aimed at assuring both orderly growth -- and decline -- in the future.
Financial Analyst Karla Harmel presented the commission with year-end financial statements, along with a warning that they will need to revise the 2016 budget further downward.
Harmel expects the city will need to cut another 15 percent, but no action is needed yet.
“I think it’s more a matter of taking pen to paper and determining what the new and improved budget may look like,” she said.
She said the advice is based on the latest projections for lowered income due to the oil industry downturn.
Engineering contract
Commissioner Heather Weflen told fellow commissioners a committee charged with making a decision about the appointment of a city engineer recommends keeping Ackerman-Estvold’s Antonio Conti as its consultant.
Weflen said rather than go through a process of considering other engineers or firms, they believe it is best to wait until after the June election to make any changes. 
“With Antonio at the helm,  that’s what we decided would be the best,” Weflen said, because of the potential for up to four new commissioners to be seated after the election.
“It could be a whole set of different people on this board,” she said. “We don’t know.”
Conti, she added, “has always been forthcoming and straightforward with us. He is always available if we call or have questions.”
The commission carried a motion for the agreement to be reviewed in July.
Planning and zoning
Three issues to come before the commission Monday last week may be addressed in revisions to the city’s planning and zoning regulations or, at the least, require some review.
The commission authorized City Attorney Ben Johnson to devote 12 hours of work to the necessary tweaks.
Mayor Drake McClelland reported he was contacted by a woman who claimed to be a spokesperson for a number of residents wondering when the man camps will be closed, making reference to apartment buildings getting below one third occupancy.
But commissioners are not sure whether making man camps close is feasible at this time.
“When does it come to a point when there is no use for them and when do we decide what we are going to do with them?” asked McClelland.
Weflen said the time to review the situation is when they are up for renewal and she also noted that mid-winter is not a good time to expect people to reorganize.
 “When they go empty, that’s when they were supposed to close,” said Jeff Moberg, water superintendent and an RV park operator.
Weflen and McClelland also talked about whether rents are still too high to expect people to move out of the camps.
Another issue is the need for a different system for the removal of trailers.
“Three of them have pulled out since November,” said Moberg. 
“Two of them have pulled out with the water meter.”
The meters cost about $300.
One suggestion is to require a permit or process with some type of deposit so that when trailers move out, the city can get the meters read and retrieved, along with fees paid.
McClelland said there’s getting to be more of an issue with people, in general, skipping out on water and garbage bills and they leave no forwarding information.
“There’s a lot of money hanging out there in water, sewer and garbage bills that the city’s got to eat because the people move out,” he said.
Johnson would also look into the process for approvals for buildings at the airport and how that should be coordinated between the city and the airport board.
“We need to clean up some of this stuff so it’s more precise and clear cut for everyone involved,” said Weflen.
In other business, the commission:

  • Gave approval for the police department to apply for the renewal of a $73,000 grant that helps support 24-hour dispatching.
  • Agreed to consider an addendum to the bid for paving on Welo from 2nd to 6th street which would allow for the replacement of curb and gutter rather than curb cuts.