Chelsea Community Report, 07-19-21

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

A synopsis of the Chelsea City Council meeting held on July 19.

Consent Agenda: The Council approved

  • Payments made weekly for $452,539.49 for the period July 2-15.
  • Bi-weekly payroll for $144,377.53.
  • Street closures for the Chelsea Fair Parade on August 28.
  • Street closures for the Chelsea Fair Kids Parade on August 25.

Public Comment: The Board President of One World One Family emphatically refuted public comments made at the last council meeting. The letter, written almost a year ago, at the center of the controversy was not written by Councilmember Pacheco or any OWOF board member. Also, the individual described as harassing with ties to OWOF is not associated with the group. “We should not have been associated with either of these events or accusations,” she said.a

A resident of Chelsea thanked Councilmember Albertson for imploring the public at the last meeting to settle its emotions and trust the Council to do its job in these controversial matters. He thanked Mr. Hanifan for explaining that a hearing was not a trial but an exploration of the given information. The speaker also expressed concern over what he believes is a push by some community members to promote civil unrest.

Human Rights Commission Presentation: The Chelsea HRC reported on the City’s recent training session and next steps. See article: Chelsea Human Rights Commission Reports on Recent Activity

Planning Commission Appointments: The Council appointed Sarah Haselschwardt, Vincent Elie, and Kyle Brayton to the Chelsea Planning Commission. All three terms expire 06/30/2024. One seat expiring 06/30/22 remains open for appointment.

Elie and Brayton have family members serving on other city boards. The Council entered into some discussion regarding the City Charter’s requirement that no appointments can be made of individuals who have family members currently serving on city commissions, committees, or boards unless the positions cannot be otherwise filled. The Council approved the two appointees by a vote of 4-3 with the clause that the appointments “were in the best interest of the City.”

Committee to Complete an Organizational DEI: Councilmember Iannelli presented a recommendation for a motion to convene a committee that includes representatives from specific city departments to complete an organizational DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) assessment. The recommendation comes from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights as a follow up to the City Staff training that took place this spring.

In its discussion, the Council opted to move the recommendation to the agenda of its visioning session this October.

Collaborative DEI Training: Councilmember Iannelli requested approval from the Council for the Human Rights Commission to partner with the Chelsea District Library, Chamber of Commerce, and St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea for a training webinar titled Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in the Workplace on August 10.

The Council approved the motion with the friendly amendment of receiving more detailed information before its next regular meeting on August 2.

Development Agreement for Heritage Farms: The Council approved the development agreement between the developers, sellers, and the City for Heritage Farms.

AXON Police Video Equipment: The Council approved two requests from Police Chief Toth, 1) Purchase of 16 AXON body cameras and accessories for $77,052.23, and 2) Purchase of equipping five scout cars with said equipment and licenses for $37,152.

Chief Toth described the video system as top-of-the-line for law enforcement car and body cams. One major advantage that sets it apparent from other brands is that whenever a taser or pistol are drawn from an officer’s holster, the camera system turns on automatically. “The last thing an officer has to think about when in a high-stress situation is activating their cameras,” said Chief Toth.

The camera system is also automatically activated if the officer’s vehicle is involved in a crash. When an officer arrives to provide backup, their cameras automatically turn on as well. Councilmember Kwas, who works in cybersecurity, expressed her support for the system as did Mayor Johnson. The purchase of the camera system is a budgeted item.

Purchase of Semi Truck: The Council approved the purchase of a Kenworth T880 heavy-hauling semi truck for the City’s Solid Waste Dept. The sale price is $144,294.84. The City will purchase the truck on a five-year lease-to-buy deal at $31,739.30 per year for a total of $158,696.50.

The purchase of the semi truck is not a budgeted item. Utilities Director Ray Schmidt explained to the Council that the current truck used for hauling is 31-years old and has deteriorated to the point of being unusable. A recent inspection showed a minimum of $40,000 in repairs needed to get the truck operable with no guarantee of continued use afterward.

Coronavirus Recovery Funds: The Council approved a motion to accept the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund allocation for the City and designate City Manager John Hanifan as the authorized official to accept the funding.

Administrative Director Amanda Garber explained, “The Federal Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund was established under section 9901 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” Ms. Garber went on to say that Chelsea is eligible to receive $566,885.

Mr. Hanifan commented on the allowable uses for the money. “The specifics that are in all of the communications have been for water, wastewater, infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, housing in a broad sense, and there's a handful of others like community assistance programs, grants to businesses, revenue replacement, and things like that.”

Police Report: Police Chief Ed Toth submitted his report for June. See article Chelsea Police Report, June 2021.

City Manager Report: Mr. Hanifan updated several ongoing projects around town. Regarding applicants for city appointments, he emphasized that everyone who applies is considered. No “pre-screening” takes place as some have alluded to. Mr. Hanifan repeated for the listening audience that the Council’s agenda items are due by Wednesday and posted on Thursday before the meeting. This gives the Council time to prepare and fix errors or make changes prior to the meeting. It also gives the public time to preview the meeting’s agenda. Mr. Hanifan estimates that he has prepared some 3,500 agenda items in his time with Chelsea, “and I can’t recall a single instance where I kept something from being put on the agenda,” he said in pushing back against an inference that he intentionally kept something from the agenda.

Mayor’s Report: Mayor Johnson used her time to review election rules for council members. “Since it’s an election season coming up, I thought I would highlight one of those rules each time. The first one I'm going to do is honesty because I think that's really important as part of our conversation in the election season.”

“We have a rule of honesty in that city council shall act in good faith and shall not misrepresent facts, laws, or processes where such is ascertainable and or verifiable. That's certainly a theme that I've consistently talked about here, the importance of using facts and ones that can be verified. We certainly have the tools as council members to do that.”

For More Information: More details from the meeting can be found in the meeting packet and on the video both of which are posted on the City’s website.

Photo: Chelsea City Council. Courtesy of Chelsea City video

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