Lewiston puts housing plan on agenda for public hearings
LEWISTON -- The City Council approved sending the Plan for Affordable Housing to the required public hearings, after which the council will vote on whether to accept the plan.
The plan is required to go through two public hearings. There will be hearings in May with the Planning and Zoning meeting, as well as the City Council.
The City Council also heard from Clair Marler, a resident of Lewiston, who believes the four city employees deserve a raise.
From the research Marler has done, he believes that it would cost the city around $25,000 annually to raise the employees to a more equitable salary, based on what people doing similar jobs are paid throughout the valley.
Mayor Hirst was concerned with where the additional funding would come from, although he also feels the employees deserve more. Hirst mentioned three possibilities of where the additional funds could come from.
One of those possibilities would be a use tax on such things as phone service and electricity. Another option would be an increase in property tax. The final revenue source the council felt was a possibility would be an increase in the city's water rates. The current water rates are on the low end of the scale when looking at what other cities are charging around the state.
"One of the reasons we're on the bottom is the cheap labor we*ve enjoyed for years," said Marler.
"We've got Mark Blair wearing a lot of hats," said Marler. Since Lewiston is a small town, the four employees have a lot of different responsibilities. The jobs they do save the city a lot of money. For example, Jake Johnson does most of the mechanic work on city equipment, so the city doesn*t have to pay a mechanic for his services. Councilman Brooks Tarbet asked Marler why he came to address the City Council on this issue.
"I watched Bob and Buzz [former Lewiston city employees] work for nothing," Marler said, "I think it's time to quit the trend we've been in since I was a kid."
Marler also recounted an incident where city employee Alan Smith, city dog catcher among other things, came to his house on a Saturday, driving his own vehicle, to help deal with some unruly dogs. Marler said that when Smith was bitten trying to contain the animals Marler realized that he deserved everything he got.
"You've got to come to the hearing and defend us," said Hirst to Marler about a possible hearing that would be required to increase taxes.
"I will," Marler answered.