City council hears capital planning update, Washington Ave. water issue
Monday, July 21, 2014 4:45 PM
Consultant Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates, Inc., presented a capital planning update to the Spring Valley City Council during its July 16 meeting.
“Recognize that this not a commitment to do anything; it is merely a guiding document to give you a feel of what the impact may be,” Bubany explained.
The presentation included graphs based on the city’s upcoming projects, including Washington and Buchanan avenues, using quotes from the city engineer, as well as, planned city expenditures such as a new police vehicle, a fire truck and equipment, and planned maintenance to the community center and city hall.
“You have good reserves and debt is managed well; the only thing holding you back from a higher credit rating are things you can’t control like size of the city, market value, things like that,” Bubany briefed the council.
Though these projects and expenditures may not happen in the near future, the city needs to be able to prepare in terms of financing and the impact on residents’ taxes, so in reality this is just one step of many along to path to complete these large projects.
The Washington project is proposed for 2017, while the Buchanan project is proposed for 2022.
Since this was for discussion only, no action was taken.
Water issue for South Washington Avenue
After taking a short recess following the presentation, the council heard from visitors, Martha deLaBruere and Mary Whalen, who both approached the group to discuss ongoing water issues in their South Washington Avenue neighborhood.
deLaBruere expressed concerns with the smell of the water and possible water safety, which she had also addressed in a written letter to council. “I would ask the city to review any reports that are kept and generated on a regular basis, in this regard, as to the well maintenance and upkeep,” she said. “Specifically, looking for a recent chlorine treatment as I understand they are supposed to be public record.”
She explained she had been working with Public Utilities on the matter, but no longer believes enough is being done to fix the potential problem.
“This makes me question the city and/or their subcontractor Spring Valley Utilities as putting forth a good faith effort to the citizens of the city who inquire about services being provided and paid for. There is something going on affecting our neighborhood well water and our hope is to get it rectified,” deLaBruere concluded.
Mayor Jim Struzyk reported the issue had been discussed during the Public Utilities meeting earlier in the day.
“The water sent into the state tests perfect. It tests the same as everywhere else in town. They say it has nothing to do with the smell at all. They test the water for the nitrates and everything else,” he explained. “You are getting a break on your water bills and you are also getting the line flushed every week. We’ll keep on top of it and see what happens.”
Whalen then told the council that the smell began last spring. After it continued to persist, she performed a home water test in September of 2013. The results from this test did find the bacteria coliform or E. Coli present.
“No one in the neighborhood drinks the water. No one uses the water for cooking. So there is really a problem here and it needs to be addressed,” Whalen stated.
Prior to the meeting Spring Valley Public Utilities Superintendent Stu Smith had agreed to test the water within a week’s time at a point on Washington Avenue instead of the usual test area near Our Savior’s Lutheran Church on South Broadway.
Maintenance supervisor Chad Hindt explained the reason for the original location may have been determined on the location of the end of the water line, though he is not sure where the end of the water line is for Washington.
During their reports, council members asked to be updated on the results of the test with a formal report from Smith.
• Council member Todd Jones, public safety commissioner, reported they have received applications for the ambulance director position and are now beginning the review process and scheduling interviews.
• Park and Rec Commissioner Bill Bires explained they are working to find ways to generate more revenue for the department as this summer’s cool weather has kept the public from using the pool, decreasing the usual revenue.
He also noted he has received numerous requests for food and beverage vendors at South Park during games and activities.
According to Zimmer, in order for the city to do this, a structure would need to be built, then staff it and they would need to deal with the Department of Health.
However, if people would like to sell from a cart or wagon they may contact City Hall for more information.
Parks and rec Director John Fenske took a moment to praise the pool’s water safety instructors, though there had been some complaints of the instructors repeating lessons, which according to Zimmer, is part of the strict Red Cross guidelines. She noted all issues have since been handled.
• Jeff Vehrenkamp, administration commissioner, reported the Spring Valley Economic Development Authority (EDA) recently approved several revolving loans for local businesses including Springer and Gumbel Law Office, which will be purchasing the former Baudler law firm’s building located on North Broadway.
Zimmer asked the council to consider a pay proposal for the ambulance director position.
“After talking to some of the other services, those who are salary would typically have set hours they would work, but the ambulance director will be required to fill in when the schedule is empty, so they could be working nights, weekends or holidays,” she said. “I propose if it is anything beyond Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. they receive the same pay as the rest of the EMTs.”
While teaching, she proposed, the director be paid $30 per hour. This would be paid by the city, not the SVAS, as this benefits the city, too.
In order to make the guidelines and requirements for the position clear during the hiring process, the council moved to approve the proposals.
Next, the council reviewed the current wage scale for first responders and EMTs, which have not been raised since 2004.
Zimmer recommended the following rate increases: first responders stay at $9 per hour with the exception that first responders who are also employed with the city as firefighters will receive the higher of the current firefighter pay rate or the $9; entry level EMTs, from $9 to $10; EMTs who have completed the required ALS skills plus one year of service, from $11 to $12; EMTs who have completed the required ALS skills and completed three years of service, from $12 to $13; paramedics, RNs with EMT certification and EMTs with 10 years of service, from $13 to $14; and finally, EMTs and paramedics on-call pay will be paid at a rate of $1 when call times are in excess of 100 hours per month.
The council approved the rate increases with the hope these new rates will make the positions more competitive and bring in more EMTs to the area since the numbers have decreased in the last several years.
Due to the reduction in staff at City Hall there are now fewer people to complete the same amount of work. To address this issue, the council approved a closed office day on Fridays beginning July 25. This will allow staff to hold meetings and complete more tasks. Since staff will still be on site on Fridays, residents may call and it will be open by appointment.
The city will soon be advertising for private contractors to complete rental inspections per the recently passed rental ordinance.
Originally CMS was to complete the inspections for the city, but it will no longer honor the inspection guidelines listed in the ordinance.
• The council approved a motion to decertify Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District 9 for Capelle subdivision as all bonds and obligations have been paid in full.
• Shirley Gangsted, Bill Johnson and Val Jorgenson were approved as head judges for the 2014 primary and general elections. The remaining judges will be Bev Plaehn, Pat Blahnik, Mary Jo Dathe, Norm Witt, Cheryl Boyd, Patricia Schwartz and Ann Thon.
• The Spring Valley Ambulance Service received a $16,393.90 grant from Mission: Lifeline Minnesota, which the council approved. See the related article in this issue for more information.
• The Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce had a liquor license approved for the upcoming Ag Days festivities.
• Street closures were approved for the Ag Days parade, fireworks and street dances. Permits were also given for the fireworks and dances.
• The council approved the North Park tax forfeiture property for state auction. The 18 parcels located in a vacant subdivision west of Spring Valley Senior Living will be sold as one unit.
• “This project went very smooth,” Zimmer said of the downtown street project on Broadway Avenue. The first pay request from Doyle Conner Company of $196,052.34 has been received. The county will be paying $33,180 for its portion of the project.
• The council accepted the resignation of Karyl Lyon from the Spring Valley Library Board, as she is moving out of the area. The board and the city are now looking for a member of the community to take over these duties. Those interested are asked to contact City Hall.