Citizens of Joseph are beginning to wonder if anyone is steer the municipal ship.
During the city council meeting Sept. 7, Gary Bathscheider suggested that the city hire an administrator because of the recent DEQ fines for water treatment infractions.
“With all these things happening, it doesn’t seem like we have a functional city right now ... I’d like to see what it would entail to make that happen.”
He also suggested raising the city’s water rates to pay for an administrator and fix other problems.
“Somehow, we have to get back on track,” he said.
His viewers were echoed by a much subdued Raider Heck, who had been recently sung down from commenting on the performance of Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands by a rousing audience version of “My Country ‘tis of Thee.”
Heck suggested that the city take a hard look at what the status quo had brought the city over the last eight or nine years.
“It’s a system that worked in the ‘70s and ‘60s but doesn’t work today,” He said. “Judging by the mess that the city is in through many different departments, it should become obvious.”
Heck said that one or two grants should pay for any additional costs for the city to hire a business administrator.
“The number of people who’ve been offered jobs and haven’t shown up should tell you they’re not going to come to work for this mess,” he said. “They’re not going to answer to this kangaroo council.”
He noted that other cities worried about expansion, new homes and where to put people, but that after 18 months, the council still hadn’t completed the work of a zoning ordinance review task force.
“There’s a leadership problem,” he said. “There needs to be a single individual in charge of this city that every staff member answers to that answers to the council.”
Since the comments were presented during the comments phase at the beginning of the meeting, the council was not obligated to respond.
Library support sought
Wallowa Valley Library Foundation board members Kirsten Rolha and Kay Salwin addressed the council on the subject of creating a county-wide library services tax district. The district would also include the Joseph, Wallowa and Enterprise city libraries while preserving the child and shut-in services previously offered by the county library, which were severely curtailed due to a lack of funding.
In order for the proposed library services district to appear on the May 2018 ballot, the paperwork and citizen signatures would be required to be in the county clerk’s office by Nov. 6. The foundation asked the council to vote on a resolution that would define the boundaries of a proposed library district.
Salwin said that the city would be included in the district if Joseph adopted the resolution.
Council member Pearl Sturm asked that if the county was cutting off library services to the homebound, why not keep the service district strictly for those expenses? Salwin replied the county library did much more than that with offering after-school children’s activities, pre-school story hours and even deliveries to daycare centers.
In response to a question from council member Teresa Sajonia, Salwin said that the city would no longer have to use its tax dollars to fund the library if the district levy passed, although she hoped the city would let the library district use the current building.
Council member Rodd Clark said he thought the council should vote for the inclusion of Joseph in the levy so that its citizens could decide if they wanted a library.
Salwin said if the May election results were in favor of the district, Joseph would be included whether the city as a whole voted for the levy or not.
Sajonia moved approval of Joseph’s inclusion in the library district resolution while Sturm seconded. The council approved the motion unanimously.
Because two council members will be out of town on the first Thursday of October, the meeting date was pushed back to Oct. 12.