Martin City Council discuss trees, code enforcement officer hired and ordinances addressed

By Deb Hendrickson

The Martin City Council met in regular session on Wednesday, December 9 with all councilpersons in attendance. In the absence of Mayor Gary Rayhill, Kevin Rascher conducted the meeting. 

Motions were made and passed to approve the agenda with flexibility, the minutes from the November 12 meeting, and the finance officer’s report. Finance Officer, Jean Kirk stated that the city had recently been reimbursed for most of the airport land acquisitions in the amount of $177,000. She also stated that as of the end of November there was $119,374 available through the CARES Act fund but that there were two more police department payrolls to be deducted from that amount before the end of the year. Councilman Rascher stated that this first allotment CARES Act money has to be spent by the end of the year, but he wasn’t sure if a second round of allotment monies would be forthcoming. 

Robbie and Antonia Kiefer were present at the meeting inquiring about what the council’s plans were pertaining to their trees that are infringing on the flight path to the airport runway. At the last council meeting, it was stated there were three trees in violation of the FAA height limitations. Presently, there is only one tree in the easement that requires immediate attention. City Foreman Paul Noel suggested the city trim 15’ off the top of the tree and then wait to get further information from FAA before dealing with the rest of them.

According to Kiefer, there are approximately 60 trees in the front yard and about another 40 in the back yard. “If the FAA decides that all the trees need to be dealt with, they will have to be removed and not cut because I don’t want stumps left in the yard,” said Robbie.

Mr. Kiefer once again reiterated that if the trees are topped, it will kill them all. He went on to state that as of right now nobody has any jurisdiction to touch any more than one tree. Before anybody does anything, the Kiefers would like to know what the city’s plan is pertaining to the trees. They would also like something to be put in writing.

According to Kent Penny from KLJ Engineering the most pressing matter that the state has is what is going to be done to meet the city’s prep requirements. Penny stated the FAA is probably going to look to the city’s grant obligations that the council approved to protect the airport. The FAA may provide some funding but in all likelihood will probably require the city to provide a local solution to the problem.

City Foreman Paul Noel said he would ask the state inspector to come back to Martin to get further information. The issue will be put on the next meeting’s agenda and readdressed at that time.

Jeff Siscoe was present at the meeting to ask the council if the city had any reserve funds available through the CARES Act, if they would consider helping the fire department make some necessary purchases. The fire department would like to purchase a washer / dryer system to clean PPE equipment and would also like to purchase 12 additional portable radios so every firefighter would have their own radio. The approximate cost for both of these purchases would be around $17,000. Siscoe stated that he would secure pre-approval prior to making the purchases and once that is obtained, the fire department’s goal is to make and pay for them before the first of the year. A motion by Councilman Walter York was made to pay for the fire department’s purchase of a washer / dryer system and additional radios through the CARES Act monies. Councilwoman Shirley McCue seconded, and the motion carried. 

The November claims and the lagoon payment of $1,163.00 were approved for payment.

Finance Officer Jean Kirk stated that some checks from Chuck Gotheridge’s term on the council remain outstanding. She asked if it was acceptable to apply the checks to Colton Gotheridge’s water bill. It was moved and passed to handle the checks in this manner.

A $5,000 transfer from the liquor fund to the Markota fund was approved and passed. Finance officer Kirk stated this will get the Markota fund out of the hole for the first time in many years.

No bids were received on the sale of the old snowblower. The item will be readdressed at the next council meeting.

City Police Chief Brandon Petersen reported the police log from November: 101 calls for service; 189 events logged with Winner dispatch; 23 arrests; 10 felonies and 12 misdemeanors.

A telephone conference was held with Mr. Joel Johnson, Code Enforcement Service Officer, pertaining to the proposed ordinance changes to the city building codes. 

City Attorney, Sara Frankenstein introduced Nolan Thomas from Gunderson, Palmer, Nelson and Ashmore who gave a review of the ordinance changes being proposed. The state statute specifies if a municipality is going to adopt a building code, it has to be the most recent one which currently is the 2018 issue. According to Attorney Frankenstein, the city would need to commit to purchasing at least one copy, which isn’t cheap, and are copyrighted.

Mr. Johnson stated that he currently works with 39 communities. Usually once a year in the spring he does a drive through the entire city documenting site problems and violations. Then he works with the council to draft a letter to the property owner stating the violation(s) and giving them a deadline to rectify the situation. According to Mr. Johnson, he would estimate his fee for the community of Martin to be between $1,500-$2,500 per year depending on how many violations are cited.

Councilwoman Gloria Claussen moved to hire Joel Johnson as Code Enforcement Officer effective the first of the year. Councilwoman McCue seconded and the motion carried.

An amendment to the KLJ contract for professional services pertaining to the airport land acquisition in the amount of $600.00 was approved and passed.

The council entered into executive session for reasons pertaining to personnel. When they resumed, no action had been taken.

City employees Paul Noel, Daniel Dove and Mike Burke requested cashing out some vacation time which was approved. Vacation time accumulated by Floyd Gerry was approved to be awarded to his wife. Discussion on vacation time was held but will be readdressed at the next meeting.

City Attorney Frankenstein explained the proposed revisions to the junk vehicle ordinance. The first reading of the ordinance was tabled and will be readdressed at the next meeting. 

The gun ordinance was discussed. It was decided to send a letter and include a copy of the ordinance to gather further information prior to adopting the ordinance. The issue will be readdressed at the next city council meeting.

It was agreed to invite the school to go together with the city should an election be necessary in April.

Finance Officer Kirk stated that the city is automatically allowed to supplement the budget for items the city receives money from, such as, the state, federal, and grants, when work is performed for another government or when receiving insurance money. Current city items include: $9,812 for the snowplow, $3,126 for an insurance claim from the fire department and $1,626 for purchasing PPE supplies. It was moved and passed to add the items to the budget.

A building permit for moving a trailer was approved and passed. 

Past due water bills will be handled as they have been in the past.

The next scheduled City Council meeting will be January 13, 2021 in the community room at 5:30 p.m.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •