The Ely Times

Last week’s Ely City Council meeting agenda was fairly empty, but several letters from the public were read in by City Clerk Jennifer Lee.  Most of the letters were in regards to the gas chamber at the animal shelter.  At times, Jennifer Lee had to pause because it appeared she was emotional while reading them.

Julie Gianoli, resident of Ely, spoke during public comment, saying “I am here today to address the animal cruelty currently happening right here in Ely. I read the newspaper headline and saw a picture of the box, I found it so horrifying that I could not bring myself to read the article.

“I even questioned my ability to make public comment, however this issue is too important to ignore, I cannot simply stick my head in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Please, please do something to stop this inhumane treatment of the homeless and unwanted animals in our community. Take PETA up on their offer to help, please look carefully in your budget and hearts and find a way to stop this unbelievably cruel process.”

Jacqueline Miller also spoke during public comment requesting the gas chamber be removed. “Death by the gas chamber is cruel and barbaric, our animals deserve better,” Miller said.

The public hearing to approve the second reading of the reading of Ordinance 711 to change the fees from $10 to $2 was opened up for public comment. Ely resident Alexa Mergen stepped up and spoke before the council, asking the council to vote against the agenda item.

“Not all non-profits are charities, some are hobby groups, if a group is able to have a hobby then the group can hopefully be able to pay the $8 increase,” she said. “It also seems like we’re reading weekly about how tight the budget is, to forego a $1,000 in revenue, sends the wrong message to citizens.  Less isn’t always better when your’e talking about an $8 difference,” Mergen said.

Annette Marshall and Ray Rivera, who are representatives of the Arts Council, spoke about the benefit of reducing the fee in particular to the Arts in the Park event. In the end, the council voted and approved for the $2 vendor fee and the motion was opposed by councilwoman Jolene Gardner.

City Administrator Robert Switzer gave an update on how things were going since the introduction of the the landfill policy.

In a 14-day period after the policy was enacted it has resulted in individuals going into city hall to pay on their past due accounts, and also due to individuals who had never had a landfill bill, open up an account so they can access the landfill without any issues.

“We have collected $3,841 in revenue based on analysis and increase in transactions,” Switzer said.

White Pine County Wildlife Advisory Board members asked for the approval of letter in support of the Comins Lake Project.

Ray Sawyer,  stood before the council explaining the expansion and upgrades to the Comins Lake.

There is no cost to the city, but for the grant process they would need the city behind them in this project. Mayor Melody Van Camp  asked when the project would start.

Sawyer noted the believed the project would begin this year. A motion was made and approved unanimously.

After much discussion, the first reading was approved for the Animal Control Advisory Board. City Attorney Chuck Odgers said, “I was asked to create this, obviously there is a lot of push on animal control issues.”

Councilman Sam Hanson made the motion to approve the first reading and Gardner seconded it, Ernie Flangas attempted to table the item, but due to the motion being made, the vote was made and approved with a 4-1 vote,  with Flangas voting opposed.

The council approved Odgers to put together a contract between PETA and Dr. Tom Sanders for purposes of payment on euthanasia.

An agenda item discussing the approval of the City of Ely’s Fiscal year 2019 Tentative Budget to be filed with the Department of Taxation was towards the end of the evening.

City Treasurer Janette Trask said, “There were a few changes, and I made them. General Fund, what I am projecting for our beginning fund balance is $354,802. With all the revenues, expenses, we have $234,722, we are still losing $120,000 that we have not even begun to address…but we do not have money right now to euthanize animals. If we keep going where we’re going we will be in default.”

The vote was approved unanimously to approve the budget.