A lawsuit in which Dunsmuir City Council members sued the city is on track to be settled. The council voted during a special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 to accept a settlement proposed by the law firm representing Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, which sued to challenge utility rate hikes last summer.

A lawsuit in which Dunsmuir City Council members sued the city is on track to be settled. The council voted during a special meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011 to accept a settlement proposed by the law firm representing Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, which sued to challenge utility rate hikes last summer.

The group’s attorney, Susan Hinz, offered to drop the lawsuit on the condition that costs and fees would be waived. That means neither party would sue the other over attorney’s fees.

 On Tuesday, council members approved a resolution that accepted Hinz’s proposal in a three to one vote. It needed three votes to pass.

Mayor Nick Mitchell, Vice Mayor Chris Raine and council members Diane Dolf and Arlis Steele are members of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir.

The only council member who is not a member of the group, Ed Steele, said the vote could be perceived as a conflict of
interest.

Some people agreed.

“We’re outraged. It seems the council is not concerned with a conflict of interest,” said Lee Chan, who moved to Dunsmuir from Oakland two years ago.

Raine, Arlis Steele and Dolf voted for the resolution. Ed Steele voted against it. Mitchell abstained, saying he wanted to avoid a “perceived conflict of interest.”

Before Monday’s vote, Raine read a prepared speech directed at Ed Steele, who voted against the resolution at last Thursday's regular council meeting.

“Ed, this is your defining moment... I trusted you...  [Your vote against the resolution] shows you are in no position to lead,” said Raine.

“I didn’t expect a personal tirade,” Ed Steele said after Raine’s comments. “I didn’t hear anything in Mr. Raine’s remarks that was related to the motion at the time.”

At last Thursday’s meeting, the same resolution failed in a 2 to 1 vote. It needed three votes to pass. Mitchell and Raine abstained.

The previous meeting also had some tense moments.

Last week Raine called a 10 minute recess after former Mayor Peter Arth, whose recall was organized by the Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, walked to the podium without permission and refused to sit down when asked.

Special Meeting
 When asked by the public why the council held a special meeting on the matter at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, city manager Jim Lindley said city staff and council members couldn't meet for the next two to three weeks.

He said it was important for the council to address the lawsuit because it was having “a chilling effect to funding" for water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

The city is in the process of applying for grants and loans to finance the upgrades.

“That process was in jeopardy as long as there was a lawsuit against the city,” Lindley said.

Also during Thursday’s regular meeting:

$133,000 Dump Truck
The mayor and vice mayor railed against a decision to buy a brand new dump truck/snow plow worth more than $133,000.

The purchase was approved by the previous city council last May, and the truck was supposed to be delivered by October. City manager Jim Lindley said the truck is expected to arrive on Jan. 14.

The purchase will cause a $54,000 deficit in the water fund by August, said chief financial officer Brenda Bains.
“I would be concerned about payroll for September,” Bains said.

Mayor Mitchell asked city staff to find out if the truck could be returned.

If the city refused the truck, Lindley said the “vendor may have a right to damages,” meaning a possible suit.
The city decided not to take action on the issue.

Firefighter grant
After working to secure a federal grant for nine years, the Dunsmuir Fire Department received a grant of nearly $250,000 last month.

The money will be used to buy breathing packs worn by rescue workers, turnout uniforms, a stainless steel washing machine and a $9,000 thermal imaging camera that can detect a collapsed firefighter in a smoky building.

The council voted to match five percent of the grant money, or $12,000. The city assistance is a grant requirement.

Mossbrae Trail at last?
City manager Lindley announced that the Saint Germain Foundation board has shown interest in allowing a trail to Mossbrae Falls to run through its property. The trail would connect Hedge Creek to the waterfall, he said. The announcement sparked a round of applause.

Traveler’s foreclosure
The Traveler’s Hotel is set to hit the auction block as a foreclosed property later this month, Lindley announced.

“We’ve had lots of interest,” he said, noting that he gave a walk-through of the hotel to a development firm on Thursday morning.