On June 18, the Spring Grove City Council held a closed session to discuss "union negotiations and possible litigation on the SWIM Center."

When the meeting re-opened City Attorney Joe Hammel reported that union negotiations centered on health insurance issues (the SWIM Center issues had mostly been resolved in open session).

"There has been a request by the unions to have health savings accounts set up as a new option with some contributions by the city.

"The city has determined that they will not be setting up health savings accounts (HSA) nor contribute any extra money into those accounts. The city has a new plan for health insurance that is equal to the old plan.

"There has been some talk by the union representatives that it is not equal, but the city feels it is equal, and therefore they are planning on instituting a new plan unless it can be proven that the two plans are not equal by July first."

Only brief discussions touched on pool issues, Hammell said, adding that the council decided not to take any contractual action at this point.

Earlier, councilmember Lorilyn Dehning reported, "The pool is running great. The problems we're still dealing with are some of the staff issues, and we're getting closer on that.

"Travis (Edrington) is the certified pool manager now plus we've got John (Sylling) for the city checking it daily. The Department of Health made an unannounced inspection (on June 12), we passed that and everything was great.

"The employees have been changed to W-4s. They (USA Pools) are paying with a debit card, but you can go online and transfer it to your checking or saving account at no added charge. We're still checking on pay for hours worked.

"Ali (Folz) was hired back. They've added another 200 (swim) lessons, and we're still looking for another one to two teachers."

In other news, after a positive evaluation the council voted unanimously to set City Clerk/ Treasurer Erin Konkel's salary at $43,000, up from the original level of $40,000 approved last February.

Konkel will also qualify for raises on the merit pay schedule.

On a related note, the council voted to hire Paula Hicks as a 67-day (seasonal) administrative assistant at city hall.

New water fountain approved

The Fest Building will soon receive a new water fountain. Members approved spending $329 to purchase a new unit from McDonald Supply Company of Decorah, Iowa.

Patricia Storlie reported that UffDa Fest will again be sponsored by the non-profit Giants of the Earth Heritage Center. She added that current plans include the same types of events that attendees have enjoyed in the past.

When Storlie asked the council to support UffDa Fest with a $1,500 contribution, councilmember Nancy Nelson suggested that the Spring Grove EDA would be a better choice as an avenue for city support, since "the statute is very clear on what the council can and cannot spend money on."

Councilman Robert Vogel then made a motion to donate $1,500 to the event, which passed by a 4-1 margin. Nelson cast the lone dissenting ballot.

Corner Store discussion tabled

Members debated possible changes for the city-owned Corner (liquor) Store, but took no action after Mayor Bruce Poole asked that the topic be tabled for further study.

Nelson said, "I'm not at all in favor of selling it," but added that the business needs a new plan in place for its continued operation.

She said one possible change would be to close the on-sale (bar) portion and have package sales only.

Dehning objected to that, stating that the Commercial Club raises from $40,000 to $60,000 for charitable contributions through pull-tabs sold at the establishment, making it their primary source of fund-raising. "We donate 90 percent of what we make," she said.

"As a Commercial Club member, I agree," Heather Gray said. "If you're not going to allow that funding source to continue for us, then we have to look at our options also.

"I can't see this kicked down the road for six months to a year. If you're going to do it, then I say put everything on the table and talk about selling it, too.

"I'd sooner see it sold and go to a private person and keep it as a bar, than to do this package store (only). With that option, I don't think people are going to do pull tabs, and donation jars don't work."

Fiscal agent brings split vote

Another split vote occurred after Dehning made a motion to allow the city to act as fiscal agent for the Spring Grove Entrepreneurs Institute, contingent upon Hammell's opinion that it is legally permissible. Nelson voted no on the motion.

Members agreed by consensus to publish only the required number of pages from the city's 2012 audit in the Spring Grove Herald, as advised by the State Auditor's Office.

Next meeting announced

The next regular city council meeting is set for at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, at 168 W. Main St.