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Orchard City trustees discuss committees, water

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The Town of Orchard City board of trustees met Aug. 1 for a public work session during which they discussed a variety of issues ranging from water to committee assignments.

Trustees serve on various committees which meet periodically to consider topics such as water, personnel, and planning. Trustee Doug Keller felt that the mayor, in making current committee assignments, did not take into account the interests and strengths of each trustee. The mayor and other trustees responded that the goal of committee assignments is to have trustees gain experience by serving in rotation on all town committees. Trustee Keller also questioned the purpose of certain committees. After further discussion, Keller stated that he was sorry if his concerns were taken personally and he apologized for any unintended slights. After taking part in the discussion, Mayor Ken Volgamore announced that the current trustee committee assignments will remain unchanged until the next rotation.

A discussion followed regarding the best way to communicate the contents of town financial reports to the public. Town administrator Melissa Oelke noted that the financial statements are regularly published in the DCI and are available at town hall for public inspection. To make this information even more available, the trustees asked that the town finance committee prepare a monthly financial summary which will be handed out to the public at future meetings.

Trustee Jan Gage pointed out that there are about a half-dozen instances where current town practices differ from existing municipal code. These instances are minor ones but, since trustees have sworn to uphold the municipal code, she felt these differences should be resolved. Oelke assured the trustees that the town is in the process of updating the current code to address such discrepancies.

Trustee Mel Cook expressed his continuing concern regarding the town's participation in the Delta County Economic Development (DCED) organization, a group which sometimes meets in confidential sessions not open to the public. Administrator Oelke reminded the trustees that a representative of DCED will be at the next regular town meeting to respond to trustee concerns.

An ordinance for regulating the cultivation and possession of marijuana within town limits was discussed. This ordinance will be drafted and further discussed at the town's September work session. Given a choice between creating a town ordinance similar to a complex one adopted by Crawford and following the more simply-worded county ordinance, the trustees felt that it would be best to follow the county rules. The goal is for the county sheriff to be able to enforce marijuana ordinances within Orchard City in a manner which is consistent with county regulations.

The trustees were informed that their next regular meeting will include a public hearing on an ordinance regarding subdivision regulation. Oelke pointed out that adopting this ordinance is critical because subdivision developers are awaiting the town's action before they can proceed. Trustees emphasized that the subdivision ordinance should include provisions to require developers to install adequate water lines.

Oelke completed the work session with a series of announcements. She noted that an advisor will meet with the trustees soon to discuss changes in the town's investment strategy with an eye toward maintaining liquidity while also increasing returns. Regarding the town's water situation, she does not plan to purchase any further water leases. With water conservation measures in place, she feels that Orchard City will be able to manage through the summer with a combination of current leases plus lower but steady flows from the springs the town depends on. She estimates that this combination will carry Orchard City users for 96 days. By then the Little Gem Reservoir, which is an essential component of the town's water supply, will hopefully be full enough to carry users through autumn and winter.

Trustees expressed gratitude for the public's cooperation in reducing water usage during the current drought. Oelke noted that some businesses have been particularly responsive in conserving water. The trustees again thanked local residents who have donated ditch water to help maintain the town park grounds.

On Wednesday, Aug. 8, the trustees will hold a regular public meeting during which decisions will be made regarding items discussed at their work session. Barring special meetings, the town trustees meet twice a month: for a work session on the first Wednesday and a regular meeting on the second Wednesday. All meetings take place at 7 p.m. in the Orchard City Town Hall at 9661 2100 Road, Austin.

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