The city of Fountain may have some assistance coming to sort out wastewater treatment plant operation difficulties it has experienced over the past several years. The new plant, built less than three years ago, suffers from an unresolved nitrate level problem that the city has done nearly everything to mitigate, with no resolve. Fortunately, help just may come from the University of Minnesota's students and professors studying such matters.

According to Mayor Richard Kujath, "The U of M has a program that has students go out to troubled areas and meet with people dealing with wastewater treatment plants that have nitrate problems."

The students will be coming to look at the plant and why the city can't get the nitrates under control.

"There'd be a lot of input from students and their professors, and if we're interested in that, we should try to get on it right away before the next semester starts," Kujath added.

Councilor Chad Wangen asked, "Would they be testing things?"

Kujath replied, "They'll be looking at everything in the plant, all the info we've been given. We've been told that the plant should work, that it should do what it's supposed to, but it's not."

Councilor Dave Gudmundson stated, "Maybe a kid can figure it out."

The council voted to have city clerk Ronda Flattum contact the University of Minnesota to let the involved parties know that the city is interested in the study services.

Kujath concluded, "I think this is something very beneficial for us and maybe we'll get results."

Other business

In other matters, the council discussed the following issues.

• The council approved the 2014 budget, including the $159,734 total property tax levy, which Flattum observed is $17,011 less than last year's or "basically flat."

• Kujath stated he is searching for a zoning committee candidate in light of Dan Byer's departure and will have one named by the January meeting.

• Councilor Jim Schott updated the council on the purchase of a new city tractor, explaining they are waiting until after Jan. 1.

• The roof on the building housing the city offices and fire hall is being worked on as the shingles on it were not up to standards. Councilor Bryan Ostby reported he's working to obtain a rebate on the faulty shingles.

• The council noted the city hall will be closed for the Christmas holiday from Tuesday, Dec. 24, through Thursday, Dec. 26.

• The council acknowledged that a new fire chief, John Hanson - who is also the city's new maintenance foreman - has been elected and that his first assistant is Elliott Riggott and his second assistant, Wayne Thomas.

• There was no November police report since the month of November was actually quite uneventful, according to Flattum, speaking for Fountain Police Chief Tom Mosher.