01/05/2009: "Noxious Weeds Tax Sprouts Up Again"
//12/09/2008// The County Council voted at their Monday work session to review a new proposed ordinance that will increase the property tax that is dedicated to the noxious weed board.
When the County Council held a public hearing last October on increasing the property tax for the SJC Noxious Weed Board, there was a large turn out of citizens, that were not in favor of the increase, but supportive of the program as it was, and is. The council failed to pass the ordinance, then continued the hearing to a future date.
Later in October at the second go at passing the ordinance, Councilman Ranker realized the votes were not there to pass the ordinance, so he suggested they put off voting on the proposed ordinance until Councilman Alan Lichter (a supporter of the increased tax) returned from an excused absence. There was much discussion, but to the later surprise of some of the members, Chairman Rosenfeld did not in fact quite get around to calling for a vote on a continuance of the hearing,
At the council’s Monday work session (December 8) the weed board members were back for a discussion with the council on a new pruned down proposal for an increased tax.
The proposal was not on the agenda, but Councilman Bob Myhr asked that Weed Board Chair Amanda Azous be allowed to present the new proposed ordinance. However the issue of the appropriateness of having the discussion, became the discussion. Chair Howard Rosenfeld said “we missed the opportunity for a continuation.” Myhr agreed, but asked Rosenfeld to allow Azous to proceed with the presentation of a new ordinance.
Rosenfeld said “we have a different weed proposal; if we move quickly we could get it on the tax rolls next year.”
This led to a prolonged discussion on both the legality and the proper procedure to follow on hearing the ordinance. SJC Prosecutor Randy Gaylord was asked to comment, and he said the original ordnance was not acted on, and so it was dead. If the Council wished to take up the new proposed ordinance, then the council’s rules require that they move it forward for a new public hearing.
At this point Myhr asked Gaylord “Who enforces our procedure rules?” Gaylord said the council does,” Myhr said “Thank you,” and then leaned back in his chair. This brought Councilman Rich Peterson forward from his chair, and demanded of Myhr “If the council does not enforce our rules, does that mean we don’t have rules? We can cheat if we don’t catch ourselves?”
Gaylord expanded on his comments, and told Myhr that the council cannot wave council rules.
Chair Rosenfeld then asked Azous to tell the council about the new proposed ordinance that had been presented to the council, but not on the agenda, and not made public.
After the presentation, Councilman Kevin Ranker said he was “not in favor of our council suspending our rules;” then made a motion to have a new updated ordinance presented to the council so that they could vote to move it -or not- to a public hearing on the 13th of January (at which point Ranker will no longer be a councilman).
The motion passed with Lichter, Myhr, Ranker, and Rosenfeld voting for the motion, and Peterson voting no; Councilman Gene Knapp abstained from voting, but did not state why.