City Council on Tuesday approved a tentative $50,000 budget for January’s special election to fill the seat of deceased District 4 councilwoman Leona Plaugh.
The Jan. 3 election for, arguably, the city’s most affluent and conservative district pits former citywide councilman Daniel Rickenmann against newcomer Jessica Lathren. The winner will fill the remaining year of Plaugh’s second term. She died in September of cancer.
In a meeting not dominated by a single issue, council also approved:
▪ Changes in animal services that will start a program to return spayed or neutered feral cats to their turf, allow dog owners to have up to one additional dog to a maximum of three dogs and make it easier to enforce pet care and aggressive dog laws.
▪ Renewing a $255,000, one-year contract to keep the 911 center’s computer-assisted dispatch system going.
▪ Spending $4.8 million to provide medical, pharmacy, dental and other health care benefits to city employees. Council delayed a vote on a separate but related contract to pay Marathon Health Inc. $1.7 million to manage the city’s health clinic and to advise council on ways to keep employees healthier.
▪ Spending $77,000 to install new playground equipment at Greenview Park.
▪ Holding a work session in February to address plans to accelerate the city’s annexation efforts.
▪ Moving ahead with efforts to work with Richland County to build a city-county courthouse. The talks are in the early stages, city manager Teresa Wilson said.
Council delayed a final vote on a design guidelines plan to create a West Gervais historic commercial district that would, among other things, limit the height of buildings. A developer is to meet with concerned citizens to try to work out a compromise, Mayor Steve Benjamin said.