PINEDALE – Some members of the Pinedale Town Council expressed their reservations at Monday night’s meeting about voting on a number of ordinances they were handed a few days before the meeting.
“This many pages of what we want to change,” said councilwoman Nylla Kunard, holding up a thick stack of papers. “I’m not comfortable (voting) just seeing it now.”
“We have no idea what the purpose is and then all of a sudden, we get it,” said councilman Tyler Swafford. “Let’s have a conversation.”
The town of Pinedale is currently redoing a number of sections of town code, in addition to creating an entirely new chapter that will include all the fees charged by the town.
As part of that effort, the town is moving its fees away from ordinances and into resolutions so that they can be changed in one meeting rather than the three readings required of an ordinance.
“This simply takes it and puts it into a resolution format,” town attorney Ed Wood explained of the new town code that’s being created – Chapter 160, titled Applications and Permit. “Therefore, if you decide to make a change to the fees, then you do it by resolution, which is a one-time vote.”
That, too, was troubling for some on the council, particularly Swafford.
“The resolution seems to make it easier to jack the rates up,” he said, worried about a “worst-case scenario” of a council that wants to hike fees without public notice or input. “It sends a weird message.”
Mayor Bob Jones said the reason for the change is to clean up existing ordinances, get all the fees in one place and make it easier to make changes.
“If we make a change, 1.) we know all of our fees, and 2.) if we have a mistake or something goofy, we can fix it without having to (spend money on public notice or six weeks on three readings),” he said. “That’s a significant amount of money.”
“I don’t disagree,” Swafford said. “But it would seem odd you would not want to inform people of what you’re doing.”
He further wondered why the shift from ordinances to resolutions was never discussed prior.
“We discussed it,” Jones said, but “never formally.”
“If you just made everything a resolution, we literally could change the entire town’s government overnight,” Swafford said.
What’s more, it could be done without public notice.
“Is it possible for us to make a resolution and not have it listed on the agenda and have it legal?” Swafford asked Wood.
“If you amend the agenda, yes – if someone moves to add it to the agenda,” Wood replied.
Councilman Matt Murdock proposed the idea of adding language into the code that would require public notice.
“We can also limit ourselves that it has to be advertised for two weeks (prior to the meeting),” he said.
The council agreed and voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 609, which allows the town to change the liquor-license fees by resolution.
In other news from the meeting:
• Kay Pfisterer Buston, owner of Stockman’s Bar & Restaurant, was reissued the bar’s liquor license at a public hearing.
Her son Steve Pfisterer said Wednesday the business is leased to another party that plans to reopen Stockman’s in May.
• The council voted 5-0 to accept an agreement from Mary Ann Menster – pending her approval – that grants the town a 20-foot easement onto her property to build a fence that will be given to Menster upon completion. The fence will be part of the bike path that is being constructed in the northwest corner of Pinedale.
• The council voted unanimously to award the contract to build that fence to FenceTrak Inc., out of Big Piney, for $20,052. However, Murdock amended the motion to say that if FenceTrak couldn’t complete the project by May 15, then the contract should go to Rocky Mountain Fence for $22,641.
• The council voted to have all contracts for services submitted to the town by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 21.
• The council voted unanimously to accept a contract with the Sage and Snow Garden Club for watering of the flower barrels this summer for $4,212.
• The council voted unanimously to purchase – not to exceed $50 – and drop off a railroad-tie fence post to a resident who claimed the town’s snowplowing damaged her post.
• The council voted to spend $458.87 on the purchase of a new ADA-compliant picnic table for South Jackson Avenue Park. Two other tables “that are not used very much” will be brought over from Boyd Skinner Park.
• After the state voted to put enforcement of liquor laws back on towns and counties, the council moved forward with establishing hours for setting the hours of operation for alcohol sales.
They will likely mirror the “old state hours” of 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., according to Wood.