PALMER – With member Jeff Vick absent, the Palmer City Council split two and two on a motion to take no action relating to the city’s Master Fee Schedule for water and sewer rates. The action item was added to the agenda due to a fee increase to the city by Rockett Special Utility District.

City Manager Doug Young said this is the third increase from Rockett, noting the first increase was in 2008. While this is not as severe as previous changes, it is an increase for the city to either absorb or pass on to customers, he said.

The increase is about $2,190 or $3 per year to the 700 users in the city, with Young recommending the council hold residential while increasing commercial users.

Young reminded the council that each year’s audit reveals the water and sewer fund has been underfunded and as much a $100,000 has to be transferred from the general fund to balance the water and sewer needs.

Calling for a decision from the council, the motion by Kenneth Bateman was to take no action to change the master fee schedule due to the Rockett SUD water rate increase. Dianne Drewery seconded that motion. Bateman and Drewery voted in favor of the motion and after clarification of the votes of Chris Ivie and Jeff Greenlee, Mayor Lance Anglin determined it was a tie with two votes for and two votes against.  Anglin voted for the motion to take no action.      

A planned sign ordinance workshop scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting was delayed until next Tuesday so Vick could attend the discussion.

During staff comments, Anglin said he was not interested in a sign ordinance.

“A sign ordinance was passed by council and this council finally decided to enforce it,” Anglin said, expressing his feeling about any changes to the current measure.     

Young reminded the council the current ordinance is not in compliance with state laws and revisions need to be made.

Ivie said he has received several calls about the ordinance and residents need a direction.

“Several are wanting to put up signs but are not sure what the city is going to do,” he said.

Young told the council, “Several applications have been received by the city and we are issuing them under the current ordinance.”

In other action, council members took no action on a request by Allied Waste Services for a rate adjustment. Both Young and city attorney Larry Jackson gave the history of how Allied became the city’s commercial waste handler with an exclusive contract.

Young said the rate adjustment is a $1 per ton increase, changing the current rate from $24.74 per to the $25.74 per ton. As this was more of a notification, there was no action required, Anglin said.

The council approved an ordinance calling for a May 14 city election for the office of mayor as well as the two at-large seats held by Drewery and Bateman.