February Board Meeting Minutes

BOARD MEETING, March 2nd, 2017

Call to Order/Roll Call/Affirmation of Quorum/Pledge of Allegiance:

Acting Chairwoman, Michelle Bell, called the meeting to order at 6:08 p.m. The meeting was held in the Whetstone Fire District Station 321 classroom, 2422 N Firehouse Lane, Huachuca City, Arizona.

Members Present:

Michelle Bell, Board Member
Bobby Chapman, Board Member
Albert Suhajda, Board Member (sworn in at 6:18)

Staff Present:

Pete Bidon, Fire Chief (arrived at 6:20)
Cathy Dyer, Office Manager
Lauri J. Owen, M.A., J.D., Esq.


Rick Evans, Chairman

It was determined a quorum existed with two board members present.

Michelle Bell stated as of now we have three members on the board and two of the three are present, there is a quorum.

Bobby Chapman read the resignation letter dated March 1, 2017 turned in by Kenneth Leffler before the meeting began.

Call to the Public:

No members of the public wished to address the board.

Old Business:

1. Discussion on Policy Manual Update.

(Discussed after New Business as the Chief’s Report) Chief Bidon stated this will be his chief’s report. Chief Bidon pointed out the whiteboard behind the board members where it (policies for the manual) has all been delineated with numbers and assigned to certain individuals. Cathy Dyer is about done with the personnel portion and Diana Jones is working on the board policies – putting the adopted rules and regulations into a policy form. Chief Bidon submitted the handbook to Lauri Owen about two months ago and she submitted it back with recommendations. We will give it to the board for editing. It will be sent back to Lauri Owen along with the administration portion for final approval.

New Business:

2. Review, Amendment and Possible Action of Public Session Minutes for January 2017

MOTION: Move to approve the Public Session Minutes as presented
RESULT: Minutes approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Bobby Chapman
SECONDED: Michelle Bell

3. Review, Discussion and Possible Action on Filling Board Vacancy

Michelle Bell stated there was a special meeting to interview Albert Suhajda. Albert Suhajda has a background in accounting and policy manual writing, owns two houses in the Chula Vista area and has previous board experience.

MOTION: Move to Appoint Albert Suhajda to the Fourth Missing Seat
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Michelle Bell
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Dana Cole asked how to spell Albert Suhajda’s last name. Albert Suhajda replied.

Albert Suhajda was sworn in to the Whetstone Fire District Fire Board at 6:18 by Board Member Bobby Chapman.

4. Review, Discussion and Possible Action on Cochise County Attorney Services

Michelle Bell stated that due to events that occurred on the board the county attorney’s office asked the fire board to review the agreement for legal services and vote on whether to continue the services. Michelle Bell provided each board member an Intergovernmental Agreement for Legal Services that states what they (the Cochise County Attorney’s Office) will do for us and their fee structure.

Lauri Owen stated typically in the sector it’s $200-$300 an hour; the county charges $75, $38 for paralegals. One of Lauri Owens’ specializations is special districts. The county attorney’s office represents the board in all matters; private counsel is required when there is a conflict of interest.

Debbie Cunningham from the audience asked if we have the attorney’s office on retainer or do we get charged hourly to answer an email. Lauri Owen stated it is a traditional fee structure; if someone emails a question they don’t typically charge unless it requires a lot of research.

Paula Suhajda from the audience asked if Lauri Owen provides services for HOA’s. Lauri Owen said no.

Albert Suhajda asked if we need paralegal time to review our bylaws. Lauri Owen said the paralegal would not review them, she would, and she already has. Michelle Bell said the bylaws have not been rewritten, yet. Albert Suhajda asked how we approve the changes made to the bylaws. Lauri Owen said the board approves the changes, it has to be on the agenda, and she can provide the recommended changes for the board to discuss.

Michelle Bell stated she appreciates Lauri Owen for taking the time out of her schedule to help our board, sometimes for free.

MOTION: Move to Continue Services with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office and Enter into Contract
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Bobby Chapman
SECONDED: Albert Suhajda

5. Review, Discussion and Possible Action of the Financial Reports

Cathy Dyer stated we closed out the month of January maintenance and operations account with a balance of $70,139.49, the reserve accounts current balance is $84,624.82, the pension relief account is $41,166.08, there was a balance in the PBW m&o account of $1,641.11 that was transferred to our operating account. We are operating in the black, revenue is still coming in. We don’t have any big expenses except a vehicle payment coming up. Michelle Bell asked if we budgeted for that and if we are on track. Cathy Dyer said yes.

MOTION: Move to accept the Financial Reports as presented
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Albert Suhajda
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Chief’s Report-
Information regarding the following topic(s) presented by the fire chief:

(See Old Business:)

Board Members’ Comments:

No board member comments.

Future Agenda Items:

Lauri Owen recommends changing of the chair be placed on the next agenda.

Albert Suhajda suggests correcting and updating the bylaws. Michelle Bell said the Fire Board Guidelines update. Lauri Owen said she will send the recommended bylaws to the board in advance. Chief Bidon said we will email them and text the board members when the email is sent. Diana Jones will setup an email account for Albert Suhajda. Lauri Owen will email the changes to Diana Jones and Chief Bidon.

Paula Suhajda added finding a fifth board member. Chief Bidon said it will be posted on the website tomorrow. Bobby Chapman said you have to be a District resident; Diana Jones added 18-years of age, registered to vote and Chief Bidon added you cannot be any relation to any employee of the fire district. Michelle Bell asked if we can allow 30 days to receive letters of interest, Diana Jones asked from today or tomorrow, Michelle Bell said tomorrow.

Michelle Bell asked to add moving our monthly meeting to the third Tuesday so when there is an emergency or missed meeting we are not breaking open meeting laws. Chief Bidon said at every budget we post for county approval our dates for board meetings; he would like to wait for the new fiscal year to submit the change. Michelle Bell agreed to wait.

Bobby Chapman said we need to consider election of a new clerk.


MOTION: Move to the meeting at 6:35 pm
RESULT: Approved, all in favor none opposed
MOVED BY: Albert Suhajda
SECONDED: Bobby Chapman

Michelle Bell, Acting Chairwoman
Diana Jones, Billing Administrator

Whetstone Arizona
clear sky
humidity: 19%
wind: 5mph NNE
H 58 • L 22
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