Mayor Joe Piccolo has created new assignments for the members of Price City Council.
"This move will challenge the council with a new way of looking at things," stated the mayor at last Wednesday's council meeting. "The new appointments are not written in stone, and is a new way to look at managing our city government."
Under the mayors new plan, work between departmental supervision will be more flexible, and council members agreed it looked good by approving it.
The council also had a separate meeting on Friday to clear up a couple of items that could not be entirely decided on Wednesday night, including the appointment of a city treasurer.
Appointed to that position by the council was Sherry Madrid who has held it for the past few years.
The council also discussed an ongoing situation concerning their own compensation. While council members are paid between $300 and $400 per month to take care of their council duties, they also received the benefit of health insurance if they wish to take it. At present that benefit is worth about $750 per month for a family plan. Some of the elected officials take the insurance, others, because of coverage from spouses insurance or from their regular jobs, have not selected that option.
In the past, the money that would have paid for the insurance could be put in annuity type accounts, therefore the officials still receive the benefit.
However, in recent months, there has been the question raised of whether council members could take the money in cash rather than through an annuity system, which makes it hard for an individual to withdraw the funds under normal circumstances.
On Wednesday, the council was searching for solutions as the members discussed the situation.
"I wonder if we could put some of that money in some type of taxable account to allow more flexibility to council members," commented Councilman Steve Denison.
But the mayor and some other council members appeared concerned about taking the action.
"Our benefit is the health insurance," stated Piccolo. "There is a difference between putting money in an annuity and another type of account. What's the difference between that and a check?"
Keith White, the city's human resources director, mentioned the fact that, if the money was given directly to council members, it might appear the officials were giving themselves a raise rather than remuneration for a benefit they have been receiving in a different form.
"I am also concerned that we may be creating an inequity here, too," stated Councilman Richard Tatton, referring to the fact that regular employees of the city would not have that option.
Council member Jeanne McEvoy wondered whether such a move would be legal.
"It would be legal if the council were to decide that was the way they wanted to do it," stated Price City Attorney Nick Sampinos.
But the discussion continued to center around fairness to everyone involved.
"This benefit package has grown because the cost of health insurance has gone up," emphasized Piccolo. "How can you do this for yourselves and not for others?"
As the discussion progressed, it became apparent that most of the council members wanted to at least look at all the options for handling the issue.
Price officials subsequently asked Pat Larsen, the city's financial officer, to develop several scenario options on the subject.
The Price council members also entertained a request involving city property from Keven Mortensen, the co-owner of Wings and Things.
Mortensen wants to purchase a piece of property the city owns south of Wellington to put in a landing and take off area for the powered parachutes the local company is building.
"We have been flying from within that area the last two years," pointed out Mortensen. "My intention is to build a strip there along with a home. We like that area because we can fly over the open desert and not bother anyone."
The mayor explained that, in order to sell off property, the city must go through a certain procedure.
Tatton also suggested that Mortensen look at the zoning in the area to be sure what the company wants to do is compatible with the regulations.
The council voted to declare the property surplus and start the process of placing it on the market.
In addition, Price received a clean bill of health from Smuin, Rich and Marsing on the city's financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003. In the accounting firm's opinion, Price has been "complying with common accounting standards" and the city had a "good clean audit" during the review.