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Council Addresses Problem Properties

By: Alisha Thompson

The July 11 council meeting was a little different. The crowd was small and the meeting was short. But, there was no shortage of laughs. Mayor Brian Davis and Vice-Mayor Stan Jones were absent. Councilman Clint Grinstead led the meeting in the absence of Davis and Jones.
A Public Hearing was held prior to the start of the council meeting to discuss 110 S. Fifth Street. Davis Police Chief and Code Enforcement Officer Dan Cooper said that the property was back up for discussion because there is not a family member with a clear title to the house. At the end of the meeting, the niece of the late Mrs. Peggy White said that an attorney told them if they move forward with purchasing the property that they assume all of the legal debt of the person White had left the home to in her will. The man White left her home to passed away not long after she did. This has left the home in legal limbo.
The family will be able to purchase the property after four years of taxes not being paid on the property, which would put the home up for a tax sale in 2024.
Chief Cooper said the home remains in disrepair with people breaking into the home for a place to stay and the pool is a problem because it’s retaining water and is becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Chief Cooper asked for a six month summary abatement.
City Council
Councilmen Josh Oakley, Jeremy Bumgarner and Grinstead voted for a six month summary abatement for the property located at 110 S. Fifth Street. The abatement process allows the City of Davis to recoup costs included in securing and maintaining this property until legal issues with the property are dealt with through probate court.
The property located at 203 North Second Street was reviewed by councilmen. This property made its way to the agenda after the next door neighbor asked to address the council. Shortly after the meeting, the owner of the property, Paul Lewis, was arrested and remains in jail.
The property had no running water and became the subject of code several other code violations. Chief Cooper said that the water was still off at the residence due to a water leak at the meeting. He went on to explain that all past due payments for water and the re-connection fee was paid. “We are not sure how much water passed before the leak was noticed. But, it’s turned off now,” Chief Cooper said. “As far as I know, I haven’t seen any plumbers there or anyone working on the plumbing.”
Squatters have been an issued at this residence. Chief Cooper said there was only one person that was allowed to be at the residence.
Adult Protective Service and the family are working with the District Attorney about what is next for Lewis. He is facing health problems that have prompted a competency hearing according to Chief Cooper.
Grinstead was nominated by councilmen to sign all documents that would’ve been normally signed by Mayor Davis in the meeting. Councilmen agreed to approve the agreement between the City of Davis and INCA Community Services for the use of the city’s building located at 701 E. Benton.
Resolution #606 was approved to authorize 2022-23 Escrow Use Form for the City of Davis. “With OMAG, we have $1,780 in our escrow credit funds that we can use toward our Worker’s Compensation premium for the 2022-23 premium year. We have to execute this resolution to be able to apply credit to our account,” said City Clerk/Treasurer Susie Suther.
Resolution #608 was approved to appoint Interim City Manager Ricky Harness to serve on the SODA Board of Directors. Suther explained that the city has a voting seat on the SODA board. She said it was typically held by the city manager. The resolution was needed to approve that appointment.
Resolution #609 authorizing Application for Financial Assistance from SODA REAP Fund for purchase of a standby generator, transfer switch, propane tank and installation. City Planner Ralph Coppenbarger said that generators would be at the Senior and Community Center and at City Hall. Coppenbarger said that the generator would not power all of City Hall in the event of a power outage. That generator would go to Park Headquarters at Turner Falls. Harness said that the Senior and Community Center could be used as a heating or a cooling center in a power outage. The grant is an 80/20 matching grant. The city will not know if they receive the grant until late December or January 2023. Suther said it would be an $8,000 to $10,000 commitment on the city’s part.
G. Dale Fullerton address the council regarding his employment that ended with the City of Davis on June 14, 2021. He said that Suther and he have disagreed on his leaving his job as code enforcement officer after what he said was a bad working relationship with former City Manager, Andy Holland.
Fullerton said his contention was that he resigned. “Because I told him very, very adamantly, that if he cussed me one more time, I was done,” explained Fullerton. “That was it. I was not going to take his abuse and his harassment in this hostile work environment anymore.”
Fullerton said that it wasn’t about the money. It was about clearing his name. His request at the end of his address was asking the council to take him off the city’s “do not hire” list. This produced questions as to how far the council could get involved in this issue.
Harness said that city manager appoints and disciplines employees. “The council has the authority to inquire into the operations but the city manager is responsible for day-to-day operations. That does include HR functions,” Harness explained.
City Attorney Mark Melton said that filing a complaint against the former city manager was Fullerton’s prerogative. “We’re certainly not going to tell you not to do it but I will say this, the city council lacks the statutory authority to change any decision that was made in regards to a do not hire list,” Melton said. “That is way deep into the day-to-day operations. That is a decision that would be solely for the city manager.”
Fullerton made an appointment to speak with Harness at the meeting.
Suther told the council that sales tax was on par with what it was last year but use tax was down “quite a bit.” She said June’s attendance at Turner Falls was good and the balances were holding strong for the city. DMA billing activity is up by a few more households, but pretty close to the same as last year. “I’ll be taking the 2021-22 final budget details that Ricky provided to you and making some supplemental ammendments before our audit.
We’ll make those journal entries to reallocate some spots we’re over in a few of our departments with some spots we’re under in a few of our departments to balance those out. To get those taken care of before the audit takes place.
Davis Municipal Authority
Resolution #605 authorized business officers to apply for credit on behalf of the Davis Municipal Authority. Suther said that this was an account that was already established, a purchase card account through Vision Bank. The resolution would transfer authority to Harness.
Resolution #607 approving SORD board appointment of Harness to serve as a voting member on that board.
The next City Council meeting is Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Council Chambers located at 306 South Third Street.

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