Fountain council reviews audit, considers
more options for communication services
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 6:40 AM
Fountain's city council reviewed its financial standing during its Thursday, March 6, meeting as Tom Wente of Smith, Schafer and Associates shared the annual audit report.
Wente shared that water usage is declining, which is resulting in a less solvent water fund.
"Revenues have been declining for three straight years," he pointed out. "The sewer fund is negative because it was set up to be a negative fund and you have other sources of revenue. The sewer fund is going to be OK, but your water fund is a little bit of a concern. You should keep an eye on it. People are using less water, but you've got to start generating more cash."
He also said the state of Minnesota now requires cities to have a tiered water usage payment system. "If people use more, they pay more," he explained.
Wente asked the council to make sure that any water charges conform to the new state law.
Mediacom representatives Shane Radcliff and Paul Cousineau presented a proposal for telephone, cable and Internet service, as Fountain's existing system belonging to Arvig is "a dinosaur."
Cousineau said, "We're looking at purchasing what Arvig has and upgrading the system. We're in the process of seeing if it's cost efficient."
Fountain's council has heard from several communications providers in the past months in an effort to choose one that would best serve the small town.
One provider who recently spoke with council members also conducted a survey of residents to determine interest in his company's services, but the results showing low interest and the amount of money the city would have to invest - up to $100,000 - was more than the councilmen could see as feasible.
Mediacom's determination regarding whether investing in Arvig's existing equipment and plant would come in the spring, as making changes to fiber optic cables during the winter would be difficult.
However, the pair cited that installation would not be the city's responsibility, and that installation fees would be included in customers' bills, if they were not temporarily waived as part of an introductory package.
The council thanked the representatives for the information.
Lift station inspection
In city maintenance business, Fountain is still seeking quotes for the annual inspection of its main lift station, as PeopleService, Inc., has chosen to opt out due to the condition of the plant.
Councilors expressed their worry that if the station is not inspected and repaired, it might malfunction and cause citywide water and sewer outages.
City clerk Ronda Flattum agreed to continue seeking quotes.
In a final matter, Flattum asked the council if residents who requested to pay their utility bills through automatic withdrawal could actually do so. After reviewing the costs, the council felt they were prohibitive at $395 for the initial software and a $120 annual fee thereafter. Those costs did not include any additional bank costs that might be assessed.
Fountain Police Chief Tom Mosher's February report encompassed assisting victims of a credit card scam, responding to a medical emergency at Valley Design, issuing citations for trash piling up on a resident's lawn, taking "use of force" and Taser training, and assisting a Fillmore County deputy in handling a burglary in progress.
Mayor Richard Kujath updated the council on the possibility that a town celebration will be held June 8 and 9, as the discontinuation of Fountain Trail Days was imminent following last year's festival. The proposed celebration would not feature a parade, but would "bring the community back together" instead of being held to promote the town. Councilmen agreed that maintaining a town festival is important, especially with Fountain's sesquicentennial approaching in 2019.