Chelsea Community Report, 01-18-22

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

The following highlights are from the Chelsea City Council meeting on January 18, 2022.

Bills and Payroll: The Council approved,

  • Payment for invoices totaling $108,279.99 for December 30-January 13.
  • Payment for weekly payments of $640,371.32 for the same period.
  • Bi-weekly payroll of $145,023.03 dated January 14.

Public Comment:

  • A resident reminded listeners of a Human Rights Commission held on January 20 to recognize MLK Day.
  • A resident encouraged the Council to adopt the agenda’s resolution allowing City government groups to meet virtually.
  • A resident thanked the Council for the ability to attend the meeting virtually.

Council Vacancy: The Council elected Eric Keaton using ranked-choice voting to fill the vacant council seat. Mr. Keaton was immediately sworn in to his new role. His term expires 11-23.

Council Appointments: The Council approved its members' liaison assignments to city committees. Board, committee and commission members can be found on the City’s website.

Parks & Rec: The Council appointed Sharon Castle to the Parks & Recreation Commission, term expiring 3-1-24. “I was delighted when I saw the Parks and Rec position open because I was looking for a way to become involved in the community,” said Ms. Castle.

Virtual City Meetings: The Council took no action on a resolution allowing Chelsea’s boards and committees to meet virtually and establish in-person meeting safety protocol. The Council voted to give the resolution to the City Staff and Attorney to develop specific language outlining the permissions.

Citizen Agenda Item: Katheryn Tinsley submitted a motion to create COVID safety protocols for in-person city meetings, including a mask mandate, social distancing, capacity limits, and a message to the public, encouraging remote participation.

Ms. Tinsley explained, “I initially submitted this agenda item advocating for me and people like me as well. Obviously, the public can attend these meetings via Zoom. But if I were to attend in-person, I would need to know the safety protocols were in place so I could participate in government as someone who is immunocompromised.”

City Manager Hanifan explained that masks are strongly recommended but not required for the City's public meetings, and social distancing is done as much as possible. “We have limitations on limitations because it’s a public meeting,” said Mr. Hanifan. “You can’t have capacity limits for your public meeting.” He reminded the Council the remote option for participation is offered, and anything further should be consulted with the City Attorney.

The Council made no motion regarding the agenda item.

Service Truck: The Council approved the purchase of a service bucket truck for the City’s Electric Department for $167,240.00.

Water Dept Truck: The Council approved the purchase of a GMC 2500 pickup truck for the Water Department for $44,973.05.

City Manager Retirement: City Manager John Hanifan announced his retirement, saying, “With a heavy heart, I’m announcing my retirement effective Monday, January 31. I’ve appreciated my almost 15 years here. I’ve felt like we’ve accomplished a lot as a community. I want to thank all the staff that I’ve worked for, council members past, and some present that we’ve had the pleasure to work together. So now, my hope is that the Council and the community can move forward in a positive direction. I have some reservations. It’s frankly one of the reasons that I’m choosing to retire. But all that said, thank you, everybody in the community, and best of luck to all of you.”

See article: Chelsea City Manager John Hanifan Announces Retirement

City Clerk Opening: Current City Clerk Laura Kaiser has moved into the City’s Deputy Clerk position vacated by the retiring Karon Barber. The City has posted a job opening to fill the clerk position.

Police Report: Chief Toth submitted the Chelsea Police Department’s report for December 2021.

See article: Chelsea Police Report, December 2021 and Annual Report

Chief Toth also commented on the retirement of City Manager Hanifan, saying, “I got here about 15 and some change ago. He came about seven months later. I’ll just tell you, the City was a damn mess. The place was a disaster. We had things going on here that were questionable, at the very least. That man helped me out, made some major changes to how we conduct our business, discipline issues, policies, and procedures, building facilities whether it’s the wastewater plant, the police department, where there are no funds available.”

Chief Toth described the economic turnaround Mr. Hanifan’s leadership created for Chelsea in approximate numbers. Chief Toth highly commended all of Mr. Hanifan's work in his 15 years here.

“He helped me out immensely on major issues with personnel that happened here that a lot of people don’t even think about, complicated incidents,” concluded Chief Toth. “And I’m going to miss him.”

Council Comments:
Council members reported on their meetings with area boards and agencies. Councilmember Ruddock observed, “Obviously, between now and the thirty-first of January, we have some work to do.”

Photo: Doug Marrin

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