With a full agenda at hand the Spring Valley City Council began their March 24 meeting with Paul Mittelstadt, who approached the council to discuss the continuing issues with a small house on 301 N. Huron Ave., which sits adjacent to his property.

Mittelstadt first approached the council in late October voicing the same concerns, including the increasing problems with the deteriorating condition of the house, citing it as a health and safety hazard.

He also stated that a neighbor believed he witnessed a drug deal happening on the property.

City administrator Deb Zimmer reported the daughter of the property owner has contacted O'Connell's to have the house torn down, though she does not have a timeline of when this may be completed.

"We haven't forgotten about it. It's been a problem for us for years, but I think we've finally got it taken care of," Mayor Jim Struzyk added.

2013 audit

Tom Wente of Smith Schafer presented the 2013 audit to the council.

General governmental expenditures, which include mayor and council, elections, administration and finance, legal, employee safety, planning and zoning, and municipal building, were $223,300. Due to building repairs and property taxes paid, this is an increase of $20,662 from 2012.

Other city expenditures include public safety, $367,404; public works, $464,659; parks, $172,420; library, $179,334; community and economic development, $287,723.

The general property tax levy represented 35 percent of total governmental revenues with tax collections totaling $918,611 last year.

Local government aid (LGA) represented 31 percent of the city's governmental revenues. This amount, $797,702, has remained the same throughout the last four years, but will increase to $860,781 in 2014.

The unassigned fund balance in 2013 totaled $984,984 with a total expenditure of $1,047,509. The library fund has a balance of $119,864 and operated at a deficit of $14,532. The park fund balance increased by $6,358 in 2013 to a total of $7,264. The capital improvement fund balance decreased by $81,834 due to the purchase of the John Deere loader and radio equipment.

The Economical Development Authority's revolving loan fund decreased by $84,228 leaving a balance of $195,012 with loans being approved for Krauts Locker, The Pizza Place, Chateau de Chic, Glad Gatherings and Phil and Cyndi Sheldon.

The city has $672,256 in capital improvement funds available for future projects.

The audit noted that all debt service funds are being adequately funded and all outstanding bonds are being paid on a timely basis.

The council moved to approve the 2013 audit.

Waste Management

"I was made aware of an article that sent a message that I did not want to send to the city of Spring Valley, where we are taking the city for granted after our performance this last winter," Steve Boe, Waste Management's district manager for southeast Minnesota, expressed as he addressed the council.

The Spring Valley Tribune article in question highlighted the frustrations felt by Spring Valley resident Dick Harreld, who addressed the council during its Feb. 10 meeting.

His concerns included trash cans ending up in the streets, inconsistency with trash pick-ups, and lack of communication between the company and its customers.

¬¬¬Boe explained the weather was to blame for many of their missed trash pick up days.

"We did run into some challenges between the extreme cold and frost, it really comes down to a safety issue for our drivers when we cascade them out that far," he told the council. "Safety is a high priority for us."

He did admit the company needs to do a better job at communicating with the city and its customers, so it can continue to have a long term working relationship. He added that the company is also working to improve some of its containers.

"Ever since we had that complaint, I've heard more people in favor of Waste Management than anything," Struzyk responded.

Rental ordinance

Zimmer briefed the council on the newest revisions to the proposed rental ordinance.

Many of the issues brought up during the public hearing, held on March 10, were resolved with the recent revisions including no longer using the fire code and the inspection fee becoming a registration fee allowing the city to keep the properties contact information up-to-date.

With the council's approval, Zimmer will be sending out copies of the ordinance to Spring Valley rental property owners to receive more feedback.

Fire department first responder bill

Zimmer briefed the council on the bill the city received from the Spring Valley Area Ambulance Association for the emergency medical responder refresher course provided to Spring Valley firefighters. The bill totals $2,100, or $175 per participant.

This is the first time the city has been charged for the first responders' training, though in previous years it has received grants for the training.

Because of this, there was no money set aside within the fire department's already tight 2014 budget, leaving the council and fire department concerned.

When asked about any planned expenditures Fire Chief Troy Lange replied, "It's only March, we're not planning on any, but who knows."

He explained the firefighters need to take these refresher courses every two years to stay current as first responders.

"That's just the way it's always been, so if we do have a big disaster we're prepared for it," he said.

Council member and volunteer firefighter Todd Jones noted they do assist at car accidents, even though they cannot provide patient care.

The council agreed to table the issue to allow for time to discuss the bill further with the SVAAA and to look into possible grants.

Downtown Improvement Project

Zimmer asked the council to approve the design work and boring of the one-way section of South Broadway in Spring Valley's downtown.

She highlighted several concerns including dips and cracks that seem to be getting worse and noted numerous complaints from community members about the deterioration of the road.

The city had been planning for work to be done on this section within the next several years, but as the condition continues to diminish the project may need to be completed sooner than expected.

By completing the boring the city will be able to know how deep the pavement is currently and will be able to get a more accurate estimate.

At this time the estimate shows replacing the two driving lanes and the one damaged parking lane with concrete pavement would cost $258,268.04 as compared to $253,937.25 for bituminous pavement.

Zimmer called these estimates conservative, but she is optimistic that with MnDOT working on fewer projects this year the city can get reasonable bids.

The council voted to approve completing the boring and the design work.

Other business

• The wastewater treatment plant will be receiving a new gate locking system with a touchpad after the council approved the bid from Horsman Fencing of $3,420.

This has been an ongoing project since the bike trail opened, as people have been cutting through the plant causing serious safety concerns. The south gate was completed in 2013.

• The council approved the $31,300 revolving loan for Racks Bar and Grill. The Spring Valley Economic Development Authority previously approved the loan at their March 12 meeting, but, per guidelines, the council must also approve any loans over $25,000.

• After the January meeting was cancelled, the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities asked area city councils to review their 2014 legislative policies. A motion was made and the policies were approved.

• The council approved a lien on 417 Center Avenue due to delinquency of payment for Public Utilities bill.

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