During public comment at the Ely City Council meeting on Dec. 14, a letter of concern regarding PETA from Brenda Alexander was read during the meeting by City Clerk Jennifer Lee. The agenda item was removed from the City Council agenda by Mayor Melody Van Camp. No explanation was given.

The Ely Times contacted the mayor after the meeting and the mayor noted that the reason she removed the item from the agenda was because the city is currently coordinating efforts with PETA in addition to the Humane Society.

Meetings were scheduled for this week to discuss plans, and the item will be placed back on a meeting agenda in the near future.

A combined meeting of the Municipal Utilities Board and city council was coordinated to discuss the agenda item of a resolution and promissory note.

The first item for discussion and action was for approval of Resolution 2017-12 approving a medium-term obligation in the amount of $319,800 from the landfill fund to the following funds: general fund, $118,500; Road fund, $46,000; beautification fund, $50; flag fund, $1,250 and the railroad fund, $154.000 to be repaid before the end of the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

City Treasurer Janette Trask spoke before the board and council, and said, “because of the year-end allocation of cash that sits in the general fund, we are in the negative funds. We can’t have a negative cash balance. I don’t think this has ever happened before and I think it’s been in the past few years with the crazy spending that we’re trying the get under control.”

Trask went on to explain that it wasn’t that the money wasn’t coming in, it was just timing, An example used was the railroad, a payment from NDOT was supposed to be coming in but it didn’t come in until after the fiscal year had ended.

“That money will all be coming in were just making it right on the back end,” VanCamp said.

The landfill funding was selected since it was explained as being the most expendable.

Chairman of the Utilities Board John O’Flaherty posed the question “in the future this will be avoided then?”

Trask said, “I can try. I won’t promise anything, it depends on the spending habits of the city, we’re playing catch up over the last few years, this has never happened.”

City Attorney Chuck Odgers stepped in to say, “This is an issue, in fairness that happens to almost all municipalities where it is going to be a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, this one is a large number that is the reason we’re going through this process.

“We’re not in any financial hardship it’s just timing on when funds came in versus the end of the fiscal year.”

A motion was given to approve the resolution and approved unanimously by the utilities board.

Councilman Kurt Carson spoke noting his frustration by saying “I think this is why we all agreed several years ago to keep $500,000 in our general fund, for the anticipation of stuff like this, we have pretty much exhausted our entire slush fund, recovery fund, whatever you want to call it, and I know it’s a matter of time, to me it’s a little disturbing, we have to put our heads together to do more with less I guess.”

Carson noted that the remodeling project of the city hall was done with hundreds of volunteer hours and not much funding to try and save a few dollars.

It was mentioned that in 2014 the city had an ending fund balance of $981,000 dollars and their current ending fund balance is $319,000.

The next agenda item was the approval for the mayor to sign a promissory for this same issue, to be repaid before the end of the current fiscal year ending June 30. Both the board and Council approved unanimously on these two agenda items.

Councilman Sam Hanson said “I think it’s also fair to note that part of the reason our funds were depleted was because of the additional large amount of money that we have had to pay to the county for law enforcement services.”