Powell, WY


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City engineer departing for new job; post will not be filled

Powell City Engineer Sean Christensen is departing in the first week in March to take a job as a public works director in Willmar, Minn.

Christensen started with the city in late 2000.

“We wish him well,” City Administrator Zane Logan told the Powell City Council Monday night. “He’s done a good job.”

The post will not be filled, Logan said, in part to reduce costs in the department, and with a plan to hire private contractors to provide needed services. He said he would report back to the council in a year, and then they will discuss if the job should be filled.

“The city staff should not have much more to do than they already have,” said Gary Butts, public services manager. “While some of Sean’s ‘non-engineering’ tasks will be moved around to cover needed areas, it is his expertise in engineering and his skills in those areas that will be greatly missed. In order to cover the engineering aspects of his departure, the city will look to a professional engineering firm to cover those areas in the near future.”

Christensen is being paid $90,168 annually. Butts said there is a plan in place to use those dollars after Christensen’s departure to provide needed services.

“The city will place a request or proposal (RFP) for professional services for general engineering needs. A professional engineering firm will then provide services on an ‘as-needed’ basis,” he said. “As the city is going into a period of time with no real projects on the books, and no money to do projects, it should be a slower time which should reduce the need for engineering services.”

In addition, Butts will have his title changed to director of public works, which is the industry standard. He will not receive a change in salary.

In other agenda items, the council:

• Approved Mayor Don Hillman’s reappointment of Shane Shoopman to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Steve Martin to the city Tree Board.

Shoopman, who does not live in the city, can now legally serve since the council changed the requirements to allow people who live within the 82435 ZIP code and own property in the city to be eligible. He had served on the commission despite the former regulations.

• Agreed to continue to deposit city funds in the Bank of Powell, Big Horn Federal, First Bank of Wyoming and Wells Fargo.

• Granted a malt beverage permit at The Commons in downtown Powell to the Knights of Columbus for a pony race from 1-5 p.m. March 2.

• Denied a request to use a bounce house inside The Commons for a child’s fourth birthday party on March 16. The applicant, Ivorey Gonzales, said she would have parents sign a consent form and will provide supervision to ensure safety. But they would not supply insurance, the council was told, and that raised a red flag.

Councilman Eric Paul said without insurance, he was opposed to it, and other councilmen agreed. Councilman Myron Heny said with no insurance coverage, it could not be approved without exposing the city to potential lawsuits.

“The city would be taking the liability,” Logan said.

• Approved an agreement for rentals of The Commons that would ensure the city and its officers, employees, volunteers and others would be held harmless from all legal claims. This is intended to “strengthen” the city’s legal status, City Attorney Sandra Kitchen said, since renters already sign an agreement to indemnify the city. The issue was raised because of the bounce house request.

Kitchen and Logan said while they don’t feel every applicant needs to provide insurance, such an agreement might not be a bad idea. Kitchen said requiring people who want to rent the facility to have insurance would cause fewer to use it.

“I would be in favor of a case-by-case basis,” Paul said.

Heny said he agreed with that. He said he has put on at least 30 solid waste meetings over the years and only had to provide insurance once. That mandate, from the city of Cheyenne, cost $2,500.

• Kitchen told the council a chicken ordinance has been drafted and will be on the Feb. 18 agenda. The city has been asked to allow residents to have chickens on their property.

• Was told new zoning classifications in the city remain under discussion during Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.

“We’re still working on that,” Councilman Josh Shorb said. “Hopefully we’ll make some progress on that soon.”

He said the goal is to provide a draft to the council by the end of the year. Powell Economic Partnership Executive Director Christine Bekes has asked to take part in the talks, Shorb said.

• The council agreed to pay around $18 for bottled water for Tree Board meetings if the water cannot be donated for the meeting.

• Approved $105,956.02 in bills and claims.


  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    February 07, 2014 10:04 am

    Better cut more jobs so you all can pay out the nose to haul trash to another landfill.What's in your wallet?

  • posted by clipstein

    February 06, 2014 3:55 pm

    Lets give ourselves a raise and then in a year we ask for the money to hire one. WOW

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