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Council Tackles Hot Topics in Over 3 Hour Meeting

By Alisha Thompson

All councilmen were present for the June 13 council meeting. The council chambers were full with over 50 in attendance. The Facebook live stream garnered over 1,500 views of this meeting, making it the most viewed meeting since the city started live streaming. Not to mention, there was no electricity throughout the majority of Davis, including the council chambers for the first hour of the meeting.
The meeting came with a jam packed agenda drawing attention from many Davis residents including the possibility of the termination of the City Manager, a property causing problems, issues at the cemetery and the contract for Cross Bar Offroad Park.
Termination of the City Manager
In a vote of 3 to 2 Davis City Councilmen voted to fire City Manager Andy Holland after an over 2 hour executive session was held discussing Holland’s job performance.
Councilmen Clint Grinstead made the motion to fire Holland and Councilmen Jeremy Bumgarner seconded it. Grinstead, Bumgarner and Councilman Josh Oakley voted to fire Holland and Mayor Brian Davis and Vice Mayor Stan Jones voted for Holland to stay.
Holland was asked to check out with City Attorney Mark Melton.
After the vote Holland asked to address the council and meeting attendees. He said “It has been my greatest pleasure serving the City of Davis. I want to thank you all five city councilmen. I appreciate the trust you had in me and the support that I was given. And I wish the best of luck to everybody and whoever takes my place, I’ll do my best to make a smooth transition.” Holland shook almost everyone’s hand at the council table prior to his exit after the motion.
Turner Falls Park Manager Ricky Harness was named Interim City Manager by the council at Monday night’s meeting. Councilmen voted to include Melton on all contract negotiations going forward including those made with Harness as Interim City Manager.
201 N. Second Street
Mickey Miles addressed the council regarding his neighbor at 201 N. Second Street. Miles said that for 6 years his next door neighbors have been a problem. He claimed that “squatters” have taken claim on the property, that has no running water, and have made his life miserable.
Miles said that people use the bathroom outside and that he’s had to take measures to keep from the smell from coming in his house by covering windows facing the property. It was established there is an ordinance that states residents have to have a working toilet/water in their homes.
He said he’s had property damage and has had to replace his fence. Miles said the value of his home has decreased during this time, too.
It was established that Davis Police Officers have worked with Murray County courts and Adult Protective Services (APS) to try to better the situation. The owner of the property, Paul Lewis, faces many medical problems that have allowed him to slip through the cracks when it comes to dealing with consequences for his actions. Leaving Miles, the Davis Police Department and the City of Davis frustrated on the next steps. Melton said that he spoke with the District Court judge who ordered APS to take steps to intervene in this situation.
In an unexpected twist, on June 14, Lewis was arrested on felony charges of indecent exposure after exposing himself (while urinating) with children present.
Cemetery Issues
Cassandra Deaton-Muntz addressed councilmen after metal roses on her father’s grave were thrown away by city employees. Muntz said that she called Holland and he told her that she’d have to find another way to honor her father. Detailing bits of the uncomfortable conversation, Muntz said she wasn’t alone in her frustrations with how Holland handled the lack of communication before removing items he deemed unsightly.
The council drew criticism online when no one addressed Muntz after she spoke. After the meeting, some of the councilmen spoke to her individually.
Cross Bar Offroad Park
Justin Ramsey with Midground Creators addressed trustees regarding the lease agreement between Midground Creators, LLC and DMA of Cross Bar Ranch.
Discussing the lease comes after the news that Cross Bar Offroad Park didn’t have general liability insurance. Without the $5 million general liability policy, Midground Creators found themselves in default of their contract with the City of Davis. Additional items of default included: not meeting listed benchmarks in the contract and failing to make their rent payment of $25,000 for the year.
Prior to this meeting, Midground Creators made a payment of $14,200. An agreed upon 2% payment of their revenues for last year that totaled $700,013.
Ramsey said he felt like he was in front of a firing squad every time he had to address the council and the remainder of his time at the podium showed Ramsey more defensive than ever at a council meeting.
“Everybody knows I don’t have insurance. That’s been made apparent,” Ramsey said. “I think that Mark (Melton) knows, based on the conversation I had, that the state insurance does cover the park. I didn’t put you guys in undue risk. I did put myself in a risk. I put myself in a risk for a long time and my guys have put their self in a risk for a long time and they’ve given up a lot.”
Among the packed council room, Ramsey’s Cross Bar Offroad Park employees, made up the majority of the crowd.
“So, I’m gonna talk about some of the things we have done. We did put $20,000 into a registration office, security house, $10,000; $5,000 of electric at the Low Water. I’ve got about $200,000 in the Main Road. $5,000 in the electric at Main Camp . . . . Ranch House $20,000 in RV spots. We’ve put in online reservation system. I’ve got 6 or 7 employees that are working out there all the time. I don’t think you can ask for guys that are trying harder,” Ramsey explained. “We built trails all over that place that we didn’t have to. We wanted to open it up. We wanted to tie Turner Falls Park together so these parks could merge and work together so that the city could go after trail grants. Can’t do it unless you’re combining trails. It makes sense for us to work together.”
Ramsey also said that he has worked with Davis Fire Chief Dusty Parsons on controlled burns on the ranch and he is working to get land ready for a cattle rancher to lease. He said that project will add more revenue for the city.
Ramsey has managed Cross Bar Ranch for six years. He admits that going into this he and his staff learned what to do and how to operate an offroad park as the years passed. “You know, my thing is we’ve been at this for six years and we’ve done a lot to that ranch, a lot. A whole lot and we’ve made a difference.” Ramsey said. “We have brought people to town. We showed people the town and we did good. We have fell short.”
Ramsey said that a tough contract and business partners that didn’t last put him in the bind he’s in today. “I decided last year, whenever I didn’t know what to do, I decided if I’m not going to get to keep it, I’m gonna spend every bit of the money and I’m going to put it straight into the park and that’s what I’ve done,” said Ramsey.
With mounting debt including $100,000 construction bill, $35,000 to United Rentals, a $25,000 payrolls loan, a $10,000 side-by-side purchased after a business partner supplying the side-by-sides ended their working relationship with the park and the rent payment of $25,000 to the City, Ramsey sees a partnership with the City of Davis as an essential need to be able to pay for insurance to be in compliance with their contract.
This is not including the 30% to 35% they run in payroll for employees including Ramsey.
“Right now I’m sitting on about $25,000 in my checking account.” Ramsey said. “Trying to just make it work everyday. Spending every bit of the money to go right back into paying the debt that I owe.”
“What I want to do and what I’ve been trying to do is figure out a way to split the profit. We’ll continue working, just like we’ve been doing, Ramsey said. “I want to sit down and put together a business plan and work with everybody so that we can put something down and move forward. Just like I’ve wanted to do for the last six years, but this is not the way this stuff works. I understand that. All I know is we’ve taken this place, as a team, we’ve taken that ranch to another level and they know it nationally.”
Attorney for Midground Creators, Justin Landgraf said, “We actually put together, with your ex-city manager, a proposal of modifications of the current agreement that continue the term in which already exists. It was more of a joint venture than a lease relationship. So that the city would have more control, move oversight.”
Landgraf said that two drafts of this contract had been worked on prior to the meeting. “It’s a relationship we think would evolve with both parties. It’s give and take. Admittedly. But, this takes care of one of the biggest issues with insurance. It’s not because they don’t want it, it’s not because they don’t have it. It’s just if you go and try to find insurance for this type of market, it depleted,” Landgraf said. “All of a sudden, overnight, it was gone. It’s not that they decided we’re not going to have it.”
Landgraf said that Midground Creators were not putting anyone at risk. “To get insurance for this park to make a few people happy. It’s not like we’re flying blind here. It’s not ideal, admittedly. No one’s trying to cover it up. It’s not a secret. We want to correct it. But, the problem is you can’t correct something that doesn’t exist.”
He went on to explain the park would have to put up $1 million cash for a bond that covers Cross Bar Offroad Park. Ramsey said it’s around 13% to 15% of the revenues of the park. “If you want numbers, do you want to put that back into the ranch or you want to put that into an insurance company?” Ramsey asked. “I want to put it into the ranch, so here we are.”
Ramsey made one thing clear, “We can only make money so fast and I’m sorry I’m tapped. I don’t have anymore. So, all I want to do is keep moving forward. If I’m not showing it, I don’t know what to tell you. All I can do is keep moving forward guys. I will not let it go, so you’re going to have to take it.”
These questions remain: does the city face liability with Cross Bar Offroad Park not having general liability insurance and does the city’s insurance through the state cover the city in the event of a lawsuit from a guest of Cross Bar Offroad Park? They could be answered in a special meeting prior to the July 11 council meeting.
The contract? It was moved to the July 11 council meeting for more discussion to take place since Melton didn’t have the opportunity to go over the contract with Holland prior to this meeting. Melton said “I got the updated version yesterday. I’m being brought in a little late on this. I do have several questions on this. There’s nothing I don’t think we can’t work out.”
City Council
Resolution 601 approving the Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget for the City of Davis, Davis Municipal Authority and All Funds was approved.
Councilmen approved the awarding of the Second Street Water Line Relocation Project for an unspecified amount to be reimbursed by ODOT. Dates for the Cemetery Board meetings were approved.
Rahal, Henderson, Willis, CPAs, PLLC will help prepare the city’s financial documents for 2022-23.
The city will work toward three grants that will benefit the public safety of the citizens of Davis. Councilmen updated the loitering ordinance.
An investment policy for the 2022-23 fiscal year was adopted and city clerk/treasurer Susie Suther will receive a 3% cost of living increase along with city employees each year.
Davis Municipal Authority
Resolution 601 approved covers DMA and all of its funds. Resolution 603 Investment Policy DMA 2022-23 was approved. Suther said, “It works the same as the City of Davis resolution that allows me to shop those investments, which are typically CDs, reinvest those at a better rate.”
An additional expenditure of $5,300 for toilet vault installation at Turner Falls at Turner Falls Park was approved. “When the team arrived the width of the vaults of at the bottom of the pit was a little bit too narrow. We took some time while they were there to try to get them finished off while they were being installed but unfortunately it is a lot of rock,” Harness explained. “The 5,300 is primarily crane rental. They have to be installed by crane in order to insure the manufacturer approved installation for the vaults.”The next council meeting is Monday, July 11 at 6 p.m. at the council chambers located at 306 S. Third Street.

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