On June 6, City Attorney Joe Hammell read a letter from USA Pools President Matt Satterly to the Spring Grove City Council. Members had convened an emergency session in order to take up the issues Satterly addressed in the missive.

Following up on a list of concerns that the council told Satterly about on June 4, the letter convinced members to continue using USA Pools to manage the Family SWIM Center.

"After the meeting Tuesday, it is clear to me that our team needs to make some changes in our operation so that we can continue building on the program that we are starting with your community," Satterly wrote.

The first change was that all staff will be paid as a W-2 (employee) rather than as independent contractors "beginning with the next pay period."

Satterly said the company could withhold $0.40 per hour from employee pay, which would be paid as a bonus at the end of the swim season.

Part of that didn't sit well with councilmember Lorilyn Dehning, who said a "renewal clause" in the program would withhold the bonus from lifeguards if the city does not renew its contract with the company.

Under item No. 5 of the company's "bonus program," the following statement is included; "USA Pools shall deduct 40 cents from each member's hourly compensation as an 'end of the year' bonus. This bonus is based off of the team members performance, minimum hours worked, minimum completion date and customer's renewal."

"Kids have no control over that," Dehning said. "They shouldn't be penalized for it."

Hammell said the company can withhold the payment to individuals because they are meeting Minnesota minimum wage standards whether or not the bonus is provided.

However, he agreed that the renewal clause was unfair to workers since they have nothing to do with the city's decision on renewal.

Members voted unanimously to authorize Dehning to contact the company and tell them that the renewal clause as a basis to withhold bonuses must be removed.

Other issues that Satterly addressed included promising to add evening swim lessons, training two staff members as certified pool operators, a "review of staff levels and individual team members," the delivery of "necessary chemicals," the reimbursement of the city of Spring Grove for expenses incurred at the beginning of the season that USA Pools was responsible for under the contact, an offer to sponsor a "city wide event" at the pool at no expense to the city and more.

Satterly also stated that he would review the reason why lifeguard Aly Folz was dropped from the work roster after her parents brought a number of employment concerns to the company.

"As long as they agree to (what's contained in) this letter, and they do it, we're pretty much honor-bound to continue their (USA Pool's) employment for at least a year," Mayor Bruce Poole stated.

"We're going to change it so they don't automatically get renewed next year. If they do not meet the stuff they've said in this letter, then we want to know about it as soon as possible."

City clerk/treasurer Erin Konkel said that residents can call her office about pool issues.

Councilmembers also decided that they would continue to provide a perk for lifeguards who have worked for two years at the city-owned facility; they will still be eligible to have half of their certification fee reimbursed by the city.

Lifeguard instructor Travis Edrington told the council that he would offer lifeguard certification training free of charge. Students will still have to pay Red Cross fees associated with the program, he added.

Another vote gave Dehning the authority to close the pool under the city policy endorsed on June 4. She stated that city employee John Sylling (who is a certified pool operator) had approved the facility as safe to re-open, even though cool weather has delayed swimming.

Sylling's time spent at the Family SWIM Center will be billed back to USA Pools.

Other council actions

In other news, the summer-long detour prompted the council to amend the speed limit on all city streets to 25 mph.

Hammell said, "The day it's published (the amended ordinance) it becomes effective."

"Residential speed limits are in control of the city (council)," he stated.

The change will not affect state and county roadways within Spring Grove, but will cover detour routes where they include city streets.

Members noted that it would be a good idea to reduce speeds along the detours and agreed that it would also be advisable to leave the change in place on a permanent basis.

There was no dissent on the issue.

Poole also noted that trucks using the local detour could be ticketed for violations such as speeding.

While local deliveries are supposed to be using the local detour, the official MnDOT detour route for through truck traffic bypasses Spring Grove.