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Glenwood City Common Council discusses several items, needs with eye on the budget

GLENWOOD CITY — Several items were discussed by the Glenwood City common council at its regular monthly meeting Monday night, November 10. Although it acted on just a few of those items, many of the discussions seemed to circle back to the city’s finances and budget.

The council has been grappling with what to do with its aging loader the past few months – repair it or replace it.

That subject was once again broached at Monday’s meeting.

 Public Works Director Doug Doornink told the board during his report that the city’s current loader was in need of some immediate repairs.

“We do need tires desperately on the loader,” Doornink informed the council. “And the cutting edges on the bucket need to be replaced.”

Doornink said that the loaders front two tires are bald making it extremely difficult to make it up any of the hills within the city limits. He was also afraid that without front tire replacements that the loader would be unable to hold the weight of the snow blower attachment.

“I know I didn’t budget for these things and that is my fault,” continued Doornink. “But we need to do something. One tire is going flat every day.”

Doornink told council members that the two rear tires should make it through until next year but that both front tires should be replaced.

When asked about tire costs, Doornink said that the cheapest tires would be $2,000 for a set of two all the way up to $3,000 to $4,000 a piece for good snow tires. He also added that new cutting edges would run around $1,500.

“I am not opposed to getting a different loader,” said Mayor John Larson. “But I think we need to review the payment plan when we get together Thursday night (November 13) for our budget hearing to make sure there will be monies available next year and the years after, that we are going to be obligated to make payments.”

“This is not directly related to the loader but we have the Safe-Route-to-School grant to we also need to look at and how we are going to fund that,” Larson continued.

“The preliminary work we did on the budget, I think was a good first step. But frankly I don’t think that budget is sustainable. It gets us through another year,” added Mayor Larson.

“There are some holes in that as  far as long-term viability,” added Larson.

“Do we project through five years on the budget?” asked councilperson Ken Peterson.

“We never have,” answered Larson. “It’s a good idea.”

“Is it something you don’t like to do?” inquired Peterson.

“I would like to do that,” Larson replied. “I would like to see us have a five-year replacement plan on equipment so that we are not here again, not that accidents can’t happen. Not to pick on Doug but tires should not be an all-of-a-sudden deal.”

“And what are our other equipment needs? What are we going to need in the next five years before we get the loader paid for,” Larson continued. “We have to look at the longer term. It does not make any sense at all to stick $15,000 in to this loader if we are going to get rid of it right away.”

“On the other hand it may make sense to stick $15,000 in to it if we can keep it for another five years.”

“What do you guys think?” Larson queried the board.

“Well, Doug needs tires,” said councilperson Terry Klinger. “If he has got to run it for another few months or few years, we have to do something because we can not have bald tires where you can’t go up and down the hill. And you can’t be airing up a tire everyday either.”

“We can discuss this Thursday night but if the numbers don’t work out right for the loader we at least need to let Doug know so he can do the alternative or at least get some tires right now,” added Klinger.

“I know that we (Glenwood City) can only afford what we can afford and I have blown my maintenance budget every year,” said Doornink. “I already have my own whole $5,000 on repair and maintenance by January 1st without any unknowns.”

Doornink has received bids from Nortrax of Eau Claire, which he again distributed to the council, that showed government lease options on a pair of 2015 models.

A John Deere Model 524K would run the city $1,937 per month on a five-year municipal lease with a $1 buyout; a seven-year lease would run $1,430 per month. A five-year government operating lease would be $674.93 per month with a residual amount of $89,700. The City could purchase the 524K outright for about $108,000 after a $21,000 trade-in credit for the old loader.

The same options are available for the 2015 John Deere Model 544K at $2,310 per month and a $1 buy out on a five-year municipal lease; $1,705 for seven years; and $772.60 per month for the five-year government lease with a residual of $109,100. The City’s purchase price after trade-in would be $129,000.

Following more discussion, the council decided that it would review the bids and add it to the budget hearing agenda.

Operator Licenses

Normally a cut-and-dried item at council meetings, approval of requested liquor operator licenses had an unusual and unprecedented twist at this month’s meeting.

Six people had submitted applications to the council for one-year operator licenses.

Although all apparently passed their background checks, city clerk-treasurer Shari Rosenow had concerns about one of the applicants.

“I did include something in the packet when I sent it out,” Rosenow told the council.

“One of the applicants owes the city a fairly large sum of money,” added Rosenow. “One has never been denied, to my knowledge for that, but I wanted you to be aware of that so you can decide what you want to do.”

Rosenow told the council that the person in question owed $1,070.35 from past due utilities and snow shoveling and lawn mowing fees.

Rosenow did say that those fees do go on the individual property tax roll which the city would collect if the taxes are paid; if not the city can not collect because the county will not pay out on special assessments.

Councilperson Crystal Booth made a motion to approve all six operator licenses as listed with Klinger adding a second.

“I don’t know who it is but maybe they need a job so they can pay us,” said Klinger.

To which Booth added, “You can’t make money if your denied a job.”

After several minutes of discussion the council voted 4-2, with Booth and Klinger in favor, to deny the motion.

Ken Peterson then introduced another motion to approve all licenses but the one in question. Steve Lee gave a second.

Booth asked if they were allowed to know who the person was because it would be a matter of public record.

After which, Mayor Larson instructed Rosenow to tell the board the person’s name.

Rosenow said that it was Shayla Standaert.

The mayor then reread the motion to approve the licenses with the exception Standaert’s.

With no further comment, the council passed the motion 5-1 (Klinger dissented) to grant operator licenses to Madeline Smith, Tara Lawson, Jennifer Kuehl, Samantha Caress, and Elle Wood.

Phosphorous

Tim Stockman of Foth Company appeared before the council to discuss the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s evaluation report for Phosphorous.

He told the members that the city’s current system consists of a pair of lagoons, a clarification pond, and an artificial wetland.

Stockman said that their needs to be more testing done over the next several months to collect data to assist in how best to handle the Phosphorous.

It was hopeful that his company could find a way to bypass or minimize the city’s use of the artificial wetland as it can actually create higher discharge levels of Phosphorous at times.

Stockman said testing should be complete by August of next year and then the report could be submitted to the state.

Other Business

In other business, the council:

• Agreed not to exercise its extra territorial rights on a 40-acre parcel owned by Casey Wagner. A portion of the property is within a mile and a half of the city limits which would give the council extra territorial rights. Wagner plans on splitting it into a pair of 20-acre parcels and selling one to his father, who plans to farm the land.

• Approved a combination Class B retail liquor license for Jeff Kuehl, who planned to open Kuehl’s Bar and Grill at the location of the former “The Fort” Bar and Grill. Kuehl said the new venture was set to open the following day, November 11.

• Renewed the building inspector contract with Fred Weber Inspections.

• Heard an update on the Summer Recreation bylaws from councilperson Ken Peterson. The council told Peterson that they would like to see quarterly financial statements from the Summer Rec program as well as prior council approval of any proposed changes to the parks added bylaws.

• Approved burn permits for John Best and Joe Draxler.

• Approved first payment to Albrightson Excavating of $67,378.67 with a retainment of two and a half percent. This was for work done at the fairgrounds to replace the sanitary sewer.

• Councilperson Nancy Hover informed the council that the Glenwood City Library would be holding its annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 6. She also told members that the library board is trying to find ways to decrease its budget for next year as circulation numbers are down over previous years.

• Noted that this Thursday, November 13 was the annual budget hearing.