Cherokee Village City Council moves forward with improvements

Citizens in Cherokee Village may look forward to clearer roads and funds saved following the Cherokee Village City Council meeting Nov. 17.

The meeting began with the addition of an agenda item to be discussed which was the purchase of the animal shelter property and approved the financial reports.

Mayor Russ Stokes then presented his report, stating the Christmas lighting contest was approaching.

“Homeowners and business owners interested in participating should contact city hall. Prizes for first through third place will be awarded in each ward. For businesses it will be city wide first through third place,” Stokes said. “I believe the beginning of Christmas for the community will be Monday Dec. 5.

There will be a special city council meeting Dec. 1to review the proposed 2023 budget at the usual time of 6:30.”

The council then moved quickly through department reports with no questions being asked by the council on any reports and all were accepted to be filed.

Under old business, the council discussed Resolution 222 amending the rescue grant (ARPA) budget for the purpose of providing bonus pay and employer contributions for designated city employees.

Councilman Steve Thompson requested a motion to table the resolutions until council could review the specifics during the upcoming budget meeting. The council voted to table the issue until Dec. 1.

During the discussion under new business both Councilman Peter Martin and Stokes had items to discuss.

Martin started by stated he had received a call from a property owner with a complaint about trees being trimmed. Later in discussion it was noted the street department had been informed and acted accordingly.

Tensions ran high when Martin started to address a budget issue and the potential of $85,000 being spent for bonuses.

Councilman Steve Thompson and Martin butted heads over the issue with Thompson reiterating the discussion of bonuses had been tabled until the Dec. 1 budget meeting.

Mayor Stokes called both Martin and Thompson out of order as the conversation continued to be charged.

Martin yielded to the topic and addressed the second issue he wished to address, programming that would enable the street department to develop a plan.

“There is a first step program and if there is money, this program goes through all the roads and grades each road. It will take every road in Cherokee Village and give the street department a place to start on where and how to repair roads,” Martin said.

Stokes told Martin to take the suggestion to the street department, to which Martin stated this had been discussed at length multiple times during street department meetings and he felt it needed to be brought to council.

With the street superintendent absent, Carmen Inman stated the program is a fair and equitable assessment of all roads in the city without concern as to locations such as school, golf course or lake.

“The price has probably gone up, but the last time I talked to them about it, it was $10,000 but wasn’t in the department budget,” Inman said.

She also noted a long list of former supervisors and street department heads who had interest in the program and obtaining it in order to help better serve the public.

No action was taken by the council.

Mayor Stokes then addressed the council regarding the need for a new vehicle for the street department.

“We have a situation that’s going to affect us with snow… We have a truck that’s essentially on its last legs as far as snow removal and street superintendent and mechanic have been looking for replacement. They reported they found one that could be purchased for $16,500. It’s a ford model and they can mount a salt spreader and plow,” Stokes said. “It’ll be more effective than what we currently have and otherwise it’s going lead to an area of the city that’ll have to wait to be plowed because they plow by section.”

Stokes said there were funds to purchase the truck through saved funds.

After some discussion, the council voted to approve the purchase. 

The next item discussed was the purchase of the animal shelter property.

Councilman Rob Smith then addressed the council regarding the purchase of the Cherokee Village Animal Shelter property.

“This is a combination of [the efforts of Smith] Mr. Thompson and the mayor’s wife who have been working with private individuals and an estate to bring $75,000 in capital improvements to the animal shelter. If we want to put these improvements in [before purchase], we’ll improve it to the point where we can no longer afford to purchase it,” Smith said.

Smith said the group had been working with private individuals to raise funds for the purchase of the property and for the closing costs.

“What I recommend is going to the [Cherokee Village Suburban Improvement District] meeting on Monday and offer to buy the property. It is about 3.2 acres,” Smith said.

Smith said the funds could be spent only on capital improvements and currently the plan includes the construction of much needed assets such as a new cat house, repair of electrical issues, miscellaneous improvements to kennels and new heating and air for the office building which will save the city money.

Smith said the purchase of the property and improvements would open up many grant options not currently available to the city.

Mayor Stokes noted the acreage may be less than 3.2 however, the city’s interest was in the fenced portion of the property which is where the shelter has operated for years.

Martin inquired as to whether or not stipulations had been placed on the funds the city was receiving such as creating a no kill shelter.

Smith stated the purchase of the property was to continue to operate animal control, but that the possibility of another entity coming in to operate the day to day was not out of the question in the future.

Councilman Thompson stated he and Stokes had spoken at length with the trustees and the only stipulation aside from capital improvements was that the city do everything in its power to obtain ownership of the property.

Councilman Andrew Hefley expressed concern that an agreement was not yet on paper between the city and SID to be reviewed.

Thompson explained initially the SID intended to gift the property but was otherwise advised by their attorney and told it should be sold and not gifted.

“…It wasn’t part of the requirements and SID has no desire to develop around the animal shelter. At some point if the city wanted to expand that opportunity would be there. This property is directly across from the landfill, it’s not exactly what you’d call desirable property. To that extent.. I think it’s beneficial to both parties. The SID knows what they’re giving up as far as what’s fenced in.,” Thompson said. “The trustees have been extremely patient in getting this concluded and tax reasons to get this finished by the end of this calendar year. We’re running out of time…”

After further discussion, the council voted to approve moving forward with the purchase of the property and an offer being made at the upcoming SID meeting.

Following public comments, the meeting was adjourned.

The Cherokee Village City Council meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

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