Nov 14th, 2023 Council Meeting

Agenda (click to open)

View the meeting (click to open)

Current Events

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Recognition for Sharon Bogle for being awarded the 2023 State Fire Chiefs Public Educator of the Year

Even though I am occasionally at odds with some of the department heads over budgets and expenditures, I do have the utmost respect for our fire fighters. My father was a member of our fire department for many years. All of the training, responding to calls at all hours of the day, time away from family... is a large sacrifice. Sharon's efforts went above and beyond that and has made our department safer.

Item J (Fire Study Presentation)

About 4 years back the city hired a firm to do a study of the fire department needs over the next 10 or so years. While it covered a lot of immediate building needs (mostly deficiencies), it also covered what they thought were the equipment and staff needs looking forward.

At that time, we were told by the previous chief and a few of the current fire fighters that we needed to listen to the experts and not question what was in the report otherwise we must not care about our residents. We implemented the short term building upgrades but continued probing the equipment and staff needs.

Flash forward to a new chief. His opinion was that the report was not worth anything because of who the authors were, so we needed a new study. We were again told... listen to the experts or we just don't care about residents and we are ignorant.

This is not to say the new chief isn't correct about the original report, but... either the original experts were wrong... or the current ones are. So a new study was commissioned by 3 of the 5 council members about a year or so ago. I voted against it.

This presentation was to get us up to speed on what they've looked at so far... I would call it underwhelming. The primary take away was that we'll eventually need 2 or 3 stations about where everyone would think we need them. Not too far from the locations the previous study determined.

Hopefully we'll see our tax payers' money well spent when the study is complete.

Item K (budget and LTP)

This was largely a recap of the earlier budget discussion Here. What's new is it appears the county messed up some numbers we were working off of when we made those decisions. The capacity numbers we got from the county were way off. I explain this in that link, but the capacity determines what the rate is... and the rate (and your value) determines how big the check is that you send to the city. Though it is only a fraction of a percentage, the rate went up. To me this number represents a goal post and should never be increased unless the sky is falling. I and two other members felt that staff should find the $50k to bring that rate back down.

As you probably guessed from the previous discussion, the other 2 members didn't care. One tried to break down the increase to residents to a specific amount per month. But that same member has said in the past we made a mistake in reducing taxes and he didn't care if residents voted him out because of it.

In addition to this, the county sent out information with the latest tax statements indicating our levy increase was 2% higher than what we approved. Staff will need to figure out which number is correct.

The final approval for this needs to be complete by December.

Item L (3rd quarter report)

This report presents the status of the various funds the city uses to pay the bills. Nothing surprising in it.

Item M (Boat)

Previously we had shared a boat with the DNR for our fire and police departments. The DNR decided to halt that arrangement. This was an expenditure to purchase our own boat.

It passed 5-0.

Item N&N1 (Tanker and Engine)

The current tanker for the fire department has a steel tank. Steel and water don't get along all that well over time and the tanker is no longer reliable. The city's long term plan was to replace the tanker in a couple of years and to purchase an additional fire engine.

This gets pretty messy as to all of the costs but it boils down to the city purchasing a used tanker (with a stainless tank) next year and in the long term selling that same tanker and purchasing an engine/tanker combination. We would also sell one of the older engines for a decent amount. Currently the scheduling for this new engine is 3-4 years out which is why the interim solution of the tanker makes sense. It also sounds like that tanker won't lose much of its value during that time.

When I seen the new engine in the agenda I was pretty skeptical that it would not make sense, but it didn't take long for me and the rest of the council to get on board.

It'll still end up costing somewhere around $500-$600k, but it'll get us a new engine at a very good price.

It passed 5-0.

Item O (Engineering design for Territorial)

This item was a bit confusing. The agenda item mentions a roundabout on Territorial and 81. It turns out the item is to pay for engineering a roundabout on Territorial. It has nothing to do with the intersection of Territorial and 81. Right now the county has no plans to do anything with that intersection. That was also my main concern about this. The problem with adding developments on the west side of Territorial is that intersection. This does nothing to mitigate that.

However, for any development to go into the northwest properties on Territorial, the city needs to correctly determine costs for improvements on Territorial and the eventual design. Allocating costs to the developments sounds like a good idea but given a court decision a few years back, it may not be possible. It would also get messy given the properties would likely take years to develop. TIF would be another possibility (this version of TIF I'm ok with).

It passed 5-0.

Please contact me for your questions or concerns.