O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Paullina Council Meets

 

February 7, 2019



By Mari Radtke

The February 4 Paullina City Council meeting was unusually light in its items for discussion. Quick work by the council was made in naming Larry Schwebach to the TCA board, replacing Mike Otto. The Legion’s application for a Class C Liquor License with Sunday sales was also quickly approved.

Setting a Public Hearing date for the proposed agenda for March 4 was one of the agenda items. Before the council set the date for Public Hearing for the budget written and distributed to the council members for consideration, Councilman Dennis Werkmeister shared his thoughts in how the proposed budget might be redistributed to the city supported budget line items. He was careful to make clear that his offerings did not change the final budget amount. Rather, it shifted sums of money from one line item to another.

The first three changes Werkmeister proposed was to take $5000 from the window upgrades at the Baum Harmon Clinic and $5000 from filling cracks in the airport runway. He also proposed that $5645 budgeted for the library parking project be moved. With the accumulated $15,645 Werkmeister suggested funding the purchase of air packs for the Fire Department. He also stated that it might be time for the agreement with the clinic to be reevaluated, noting the $28,000 investment into the building 2 years ago for a new furnace and AC unit.

Werkmeister’s budget work for public safety funding was not yet finished. The budget proposed to the council included $60,000 for bike path repairs. The damage to the bike path from the fall flood event does not qualify for any insurance or governmental funding assistance. Werkmeister suggested reducing that budget line item from $60,000 to $30,000. The remaining $30,000 would be a good seed amount for public fundraising efforts by adding some members of the public to the committee. Steve Heeren and Carol Honkomp are the mayor appointed representatives to the Park, Fitness Trail and Laue Room committee.

Werkmeister went on to suggest that $25,000 of the $30,000 be used to replace the ambulance defibrillator if it is needed and the remaining $5,000 to the police department. If the defibrillator is not needed has suggested using the entire $30,000 for the city’s public safety needs.

The Public Hearing for the 2020 budget is set for March 4th.

Three applications to the Paullina Fire Department were discussed and tabled. Dennis Werkmeister noted that the applications were incomplete. He offered to follow up with the department and/or applicants so the council can complete the decision. The applications opened a discussion of the number of Fire Department members required or recommended to be on the department. Sufficient availability for 24/7 response generated some of the talking points. The number of members needed coupled with the cost of operations including training and equipment costs.

Dan Moore, South O’Brien Superintendent was present to further discuss the issue of the city providing sanding/salting service to the school’s Paullina parking lots. The city had previously declined doing so, citing liability and timing as primary concerns and recognizing city streets as their priority.

Moore opened by saying that he was not there to disagree with the prior decision. He stated he was there to get them to rethink a portion of their decision. He noted that there is some history of the city applying salt/sand to school property. He also expressed his gratitude at how well the city and the school get along.

He shared his thoughts with the school’s dilemma toward ice removal. Moore did not want to use money from “that fund” for equipment to spread salt or sand on ice. He offered that in his 10 years here, there has been a need for sand 6 times, and was surprised at this year’s frequent need for that kind of maintenance.

The city purchases its sand from the county both tax-exempt entities. That status forbids the city from selling the sand to private entities. The school is also a tax-exempt entity taking it out of the mix with a city decision to not apply sand mix to private property.

Moore was clear of the district’s willingness to pay for the service and presented a receptive attitude toward the limitations of time and access (cars in the parking lots) for the city to spread sand. Moore also made clear that there is no way for any entity to remove liability.

Chris Erdman reported that the last time the city applies sand mix to the school parking lot it took about and hour and a half and he estimated 2-3 tons applied. The cost of the sand mix from a private vendor is $18.50 per ton, sold in 15 ton increments.

Mayor Justin Stamer noted that a skidloader attachment cost about $2600. Other council members discussed how the city might be able to use a skidloader. Erdman’s opinion is that a skidloader is not a tool that would benefit the city.

Several area schools were polled in how they handle sanding. The result is mixed. Some cities do it gratis for the school property, some cities charge the district for the service. One district pays the same company that provides lawn care. Out of the 10 districts polled, 6 do their own ice maintenance.

In the end, the council approved a motion to allow Erdman to provide the service or not to the district, depending on circumstances and to set the charge.

Erdman agreed to do some sanding Monday night after 10pm to the district property following his own 10 or 11-hour day in preparation for another coming weather event and crowds to the school for games and tournaments.

 

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