Council discusses downtown parking

Enforcement an issue with two-hour parking ordinance

Posted 12/5/19

The Powell City Council discussed parking problems downtown and, to get with the times, implemented employee policies governing their use of social media.

They also got an earful from a man who …

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Council discusses downtown parking

Enforcement an issue with two-hour parking ordinance

Posted

The Powell City Council discussed parking problems downtown and, to get with the times, implemented employee policies governing their use of social media.

They also got an earful from a man who received utility bills showing unusually high water use rates he believed were inaccurate. The city later determined the cause was a running toilet.

 

Parking problems

During Monday night’s regular meeting, Councilman Jim Hillberry raised a concern about people parking in downtown spots longer than the time allowed by ordinance.

“We should have them be cognizant of the need, especially at the post office, to spend as little time as necessary there,” Hillberry said.

City Administrator Zack Thorington said he’s seen the problem as well, and sometimes the vehicles belong to downtown business owners.

“Sometimes those businesses will park, not necessarily in front of their business, they’ll park two businesses down and sit there all day,” he said.

City ordinance states that in the downtown areas along Clark Street, Absaroka Street, Bent Street and Coulter

Avenue, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on every day but Sunday, no vehicle can park longer than two hours.

It’s not a new problem, and the city has wrestled with solutions before. In the 1980s, the city had parking meters downtown, which were removed. It’s also a drain on law enforcement resources to have police ticket people.

Speaking after the meeting, Thorington explained that “to have an officer walking up and down these streets marking tires and checking time limits of parking could be a full-time job. The ordinance has basically been an honor system.”

The council discussed putting up signs to warn people of the city ordinance, but that wasn’t seen as an effective solution.

“You know how much the no U-turn signs works in downtown Powell. The no cellphone signs work really well,” said Councilor Scott Mangold sarcastically. “Maybe a nice business letter from the mayor saying, ‘we’re trying to attract more business downtown’ might work.”

The council agreed to draft a letter to be sent to downtown businesses would be the best approach. The Powell Police Department posted a warning about the two-hour limit on Facebook on Tuesday and the Powell Chamber of Commerce sent out an email blast on Wednesday.

 

Social media

Speaking of social media, the council also approved a few changes in personnel policies. They include rules regarding staff using personal socal media accounts for city business. The new policy defines appropriate use of social media as being a means to “disperse time-sensitive or emergency-oriented material.”

The policy forbids anonymous comments, the use of profanity, and negative comments about fellow employees, elected officials or anything that could “potentially bring discredit to the City of Powell.”

It also requires that any employees participating on social media remain professional, exercise discretion, and maintain customer-focused attitudes at all times. Employees are not allowed to create their own City of Powell pages without the approval of the city administrator, and non-compliance with the new policy can result in termination.

Thorington, speaking after the meeting, said there were no specific incidents that led to the implementation of the policy. It’s just standard practice with municipalities today, and the City of Powell wanted to be up to date with its own policies.

 

Drenched

The council also heard from Powell resident Lynn Cook, who said the water use rates on his utility bill showed some irregularities.

Cook explained he has different properties all over town. At a house on Division Street, he saw his water use rates go from 3,000 gallons in September to 7,000 gallons in October and November; he said he’d never seen his own rates go much higher than 4,000.

At two houses that Cook owns on Absaroka Street, water use rates were 10,000 to 22,000 gallons, with only a single occupant in each house.

Mayor John Wetzel asked Cook if he’d contacted the water department concerning these issues.

“It goes in one of their damn ears and out the other,” Cook replied. “You contact them.”

Wetzel said he would discuss the issue with city employees. Other residents have reported irregularities in water use rates in the past, and it’s often due to a undetected leakage.

“Our meters are usually pretty solid,” the mayor said, but he said the city could look at Cook’s situation.

Cook said tests had been done and no leaks were detected.

Thorington said it was the first he heard of it, but they can get the water department involved and determine what’s going on.

“We’ll get some data and some facts, get moving forward, and see what we can figure out,” Wetzel said.

Following the meeting, the city’s water department investigated; the cause turned out to be a running toilet, Thorington said.

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