The Spring Valley City Council held their annual truth and taxation hearing on Monday, Dec. 9, but with no visitors in attendance to ask questions the council moved onto their final regular meeting of the year.

Later during the meeting, the council approved a levy of $914,632, which is identical to the levy from last year. The city has kept the levy nearly the same for the past six years.

The council began the meeting by approving the preliminary budget for 2014, which was previously reviewed during the special Oct. 2 budget meeting.

This budget includes several notable additions and improvements for the city.

First, $115,000 is budgeted for a new snow blower with funding coming from the capital improvement fund. The current snow blower is over 40 years old and in desperate need of repairs.

The council approved $130,000 to be taken from the city's general fund to cover costs for the Main Street and County 1 improvements project. This project will be working in conjunction with Fillmore County.

The industrial park expansion will cost $511,000 and will be funded by the monies transferred from the city's general fund and the Rochester sales tax.

Currently, the council has budgeted $25,000 for a new ambulance power lift to come out of the enterprise fund. The 2014 ambulance budget shows a deficit of $15,750, so the council agreed to wait on the expenditure until after the 2013 audit is completed. This should give a clearer financial picture of the ambulance budget, according to city administrator Deb Zimmer.

The city will invest $15,000 from the enterprise fund to camera and jet 15,000 feet of sewer lines.

"We have some old lines that we have problems with, so what we would do is jet, or clean out the line, and then we'll camera to see if they are cracked or if they are in bad shape. This will be ongoing maintenance work, so every year we'll do a little bit - 15,000 feet of line is not much, but it is a good start," Zimmer told the council.

This project would allow the city to determine if the lines need to be repaired or possibly replaced in the future.

Spring Valley parks

Some of Spring Valley's parks will be getting facelifts next year, as $15,000 is assigned for new playground equipment in Grant Street Park. The equipment will be paid for with proceeds from the 10 percent gambling tax.

New bathrooms will be installed at South Park for an approximate cost of $50,000 with monies coming from the capital improvement fund.

A new concrete slab will be added to the city pool north of the baby pool area to the west edge of the pool building to help restrict access to the mechanical room and create a shaded area for families. The $4,000 price tag for the project will be covered by the general fund.

Zimmer explained none of these improvements will be funded from the Park Fund because that is a very tight budget.

Spring Valley Fire Department

The fire department is looking into purchasing a thermal imaging camera to replace its current camera.

"The one we do have is not great, so we really need a new one," conveyed council member and volunteer firefighter Todd Jones.

The department asked for $12,000 to be budgeted, but the council approved up to $15,000 to be safe.

The department will be seeing a pay increase in 2014. The fire chief position will be making $1,200 compared to the previous $900; the first assistant chief will be increasing to $750 from $600; the second assistant and department secretary will make $450, which is a $100 raise; and finally, fire and rescue calls and drill and meeting pay was increase from $8 per hour to $10.

"We've talked about this for years and should have adopted it two years ago," Zimmer said.

After the budget approval the council swiftly continued on, approving the following resolutions: a 2.5 percent pay scale increase, the $130,000 fund transfer for the Main Street and County 1 improvement, the $240,000 fund transfer for the industrial park expansion project and commitments for the capital fund projects and special revenue fund projects.

Other business

Zimmer told the council that she is working with a representative of HED Cycling, who is a friend of Almanzo 100 race founder Chris Skogen, to create a bike race planned for Friday, May 16, which is the night before the famed Almanzo race. They are hoping the shorter bike race will bring more youth from around the area.

A brief council meeting will be held on Friday, Dec. 27, at 12:15 p.m.

After the meeting adjourned the Spring Valley EMTs and first responders were recognized for their service to the community. See related story in this issue.