Council Decision Gives Star Valley Staff Increased Job Security

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The livelihood of Star Valley town employees is no longer in jeopardy if a relative wants to serve on the town council after a decision at Tuesday night's council meeting.

The council voted 6-1, with councilor Bill Heath in dissension, to allow a confidentiality agreement between relatives to replace a former town policy restricting potential nepotism between councilor and town employees.

The action was necessary to allow Town Clerk Sarah Luckie to retain her job. Her sister Nathalie Stroup is running for council. Had the council rejected the policy change, Luckie would have been fired if Stroup were elected, according to old town policy.

Town Manager Vito Tedeschi summarized the issue for the council.

"We have a situation where if someone related to someone on staff was elected, the town staff member would no longer be employed," he said.

Heath said he feared the repercussions of reversing the town policy.

"I don't know how you'd enforce a confidentiality agreement," he said, "I think that is a problem waiting to happen."

Tedeschi said he included the restriction when he wrote Star Valley's town policy based on similar restrictions in other small towns he looked at.

"Larger communities don't have this rule because there are a lot more workers," he said. "It doesn't have as detrimental an effect as it would in a small town."

In other news the council:

  • Voted unanimously to approve a resolution on alternative expenditure limitations. The decision allows the town a greater spending capacity, which is beneficial for growing towns, Tedeschi said. It will be brought before the public as a ballot issue in the March 11, 2008 election.
  • Voted unanimously to establish magistrate court fees.

The decision adds fees that an offender would have to pay for processes that the town is involved in, so the town is not responsible for the fee.

Tedeschi gave an example of the town serving a warrant to an offender. With the new resolution, the offender would pay the cost of the warrant delivery service, not the town.

  • Voted to table a resolution authorizing the mayor to initiate legislation for forest service lands.

The town is looking to annex around 750 acres of forest service land for future development. Before an application is finalized, Mayor Chuck Heron wanted to review the acreage.

  • Voted to table an ordinance that would establish architectural design review guidelines. Heron wanted the Planning and Zoning Commission to review the guidelines before they are approved by the council.
  • The council heard a presentation from members of First National Bank about a probable change in banking services for the town.
  • Voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Mark Freegard to the Streets and Roads Commission. His appointment marks the seventh member of the commission.

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