The Spring Valley City Council met last Wednesday, Oct. 2, for a special budget review meeting.

First on the agenda was the purchase of a John Deere loader and snowblower.

The current snowblower is over 40 years old and is in desperate need of repairs.

Maintenance supervisor Chad Hindt explained, "It's more the blower that needs the work, but the smallest snowblower I can get is 16 inches bigger than what we have now. The current loader already has its maximum weight load with the smaller snowblower. So we'd have to get a new loader to handle a new snowblower."

Originally, the council was planning on waiting until the first of the year to purchase both items to take advantage of the no sales tax, which also begins on Jan. 1, 2014. But Hindt and city administrator Deb Zimmer explained that the price will actually be more after Jan. 1, due to a price increase, so the city will save $12,123 by buying the loader now. As for the snowblower, the city will still be saving $7,710 if it waits to purchase the machine early next year.

The funding for the equipment, totaling $250,000, has been set aside in the capital outlay fund.

The council agreed to purchase the loader now, but chose to wait until Spring Valley becomes sales tax exempt to purchase the snowblower.

The council moved on to discuss the Main Street and County 1 improvements. This project will be in conjunction with Fillmore County with the county starting bids in January. The engineer's estimate is now at $130,000, which will come out of the city's general fund.

Next, Zimmer reviewed the industrial park expansion, which would connect Peterson Street with Kasten Drive allowing for another access point for the businesses. The engineer's estimate for this project is $649,376.31, though Public Utilities would be paying $137,499.78 of that amount, leaving Spring Valley with the balance of $511,876.53. Zimmer proposed using the $265,000 from the Rochester sales tax funding and the remaining balance of $247,000 could come from the general fund.

"Keep in mind that the projects for Main Street and the industrial park, there's not revenue coming in for those; they would reduce the general fund," Zimmer reminded the council.

The council considered funding for new playground equipment for Grant Street Park. Initially, the park was scheduled to get the equipment this year, but due to the pool project the council decided to postpone. The current equipment has some broken parts and is becoming a safety issue, according to Zimmer.

The approximate total for the equipment is $15,000. Since the pool project came in under budget, the city would be able to use the 10 percent gambling fund from the charitable gambling tax.

During the last several months, the council has been discussing adding new bathrooms in South Park after numerous community members complained about the port-a-potties presently in the park.

The current estimate is listed at $65,000, though this could change depending on whether or not Sentence to Serve (STS) is able to do the project. The funding would come out of the capital outlay fund.

Parks and recreation director John Fenske noted that currently they are paying almost $4,000 a year for the rental and maintenance of the port-a-potties.

The council heard a proposal for a cement slab to be added to the city pool north of the baby pool area to the west edge of the pool building. This would enclose the mechanical room, which would restrict access and create an area for parents and children to get out of the direct sun. The door to the mechanical room was kicked in recently and this addition could prevent further damage.

The estimated cost is $3,000 and is budgeted in the general fund.

The final budget discussion point centered on the two ambulance power lift units, which were discussed in a previous meeting. The ambulance department has budgeted $9,500 for 2014. This is part of a five-year interest free financing offer through the manufacturer, Stryker.

The discussion concluded with an update on the 2014 health insurance budget from Zimmer. After further review the cost is now estimated to be up 24 percent from 2013. Zimmer is waiting for more conclusive information to come within the next couple of months.

In other business:

• A 2 percent sewer rate increase was proposed to the council for review. It has been several years since the last increase. This would end up being a 33-cent increase for the base cost, a per gallon increase of 8 cents. The base rate would become $16.92 and the per gallon cost would then be $4.02.

According to Zimmer, "An average user, which is estimated at 5,000 gallons, would see an increase of 73 cents per month."

• Zimmer made the council aware of an issue concerning several complaints made to the Minnesota Public Health Department in regards to rental conditions. These include Spring Valley residences in a mobile home park, an apartment building on Farmer Street and another apartment on Tracy Road.

Letters have been sent from the city to the owners of the properties about the issues, but to no avail.

These recent issues may force the council to once again review the possibility of a rental ordinance within the city of Spring Valley.

Council member Todd Jones wanted to make it clear that, "these cases are due to only a couple of owners and they could now ruin it for all rental owners in Spring Valley."

Zimmer will continue to work with the state to resolve these issues.

The next council meeting will be held on Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.