Bethel City Council Passes New Nepotism Rules

by Ben Matheson on June 11, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 5.46.55 PMThe Bethel City Council Tuesday night adopted a new nepotism policy for employing immediate family members within the city.

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The council added “domestic partner, significant other, step children, and step parents” to the definition of immediate family.

Under the rules, the city manager cannot have any immediate family working for the city, and family members cannot be in supervisory roles, among other provisions. The previous ordinance useds the broader term “related by blood or marriage” and completely prohibited the employment of relatives of the city manager, department heads, and council members.

Council Member Sharon Sigmon said she initially felt the council was loosening the rules.

“As we’ve gone through and made the modification in this I feel like we are tightening up those rules, I’m very happy with the way this is going. I also agree we need to tighten up on the human resources person,” said Sigmon.

The council failed to pass special restrictions on the human resources director.

With the fate of the Senior Center up in the air, the council agreed to set up a meeting with the ONC tribal council. The city received a letter indicating that the tribe plans to vacate the building by the end of the month, but Tuesday afternoon they received an email indicating they will stay through September.

The council again delayed action on raising water and sewer rates. Bethel resident Eli Jacobson said there is currently no incentive to conserve for those on piped water.

“You could be out watering your yard, the phone rings, drop the hose, go in your house and forget about it. Wake up the next morning, your yard is flooded with tens of thousands of gallons. Oh well, not out of my pocket, that will be subsidized by the people on delivered water,” said Jacobson.

Money from the city’s general fund goes to subsidize the water system. Vice Mayor Rick Robb:

“But I think we have to be careful about pointing fingers, saying this isn’t fair. Everyone thinks they’re subsidizing someone else. I think we have to realize we’re all subsidizing each other, we have to be careful about pointing fingers at this user or that user.. we have to look what the actual costs are,” said Robb.

The council wants to see a spreadsheet or computer program that includes all of the costs and rate options so they can see how different rates affect customers in the coming weeks.

City staff reported that the new interim city manager Greg Moyer has accepted his contract and will be in town by the next council meeting. The city has found a company to operate the new pool but is not disclosing the name until a contract is signed.

They finished by going into executive session related to a public records request for their recent investigation report and litigation between the city and Hoffman Fuel.

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