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No action taken on projects

By Staff | Nov 24, 2008

In the end it was an absent councilmember that played a part in the City Council tabling two proposed street reconstruction projects totaling $1.43 million in Winnebago.

However, some residents attending a public hearing Tuesday night were less than enthused with improvements planned for First Avenue Southeast and Sixth Avenue Southwest.

“With the (economic) crunch the way it is, we should table it for a while. It’s going to cost a lot of money,” Randy Boettcher told the council.

City engineer Kevin Bittner of Bolton & Menk was on hand to explain the projects and answer any questions property owners might have.

When councilman Dana Gates asked the audience for input, Zac Patten was not against the projects but felt they could be delayed for now.

“It’s need versus want. Is it something we really need?” Patten asked the council.

Bittner says doing the projects next year would be a good time because bidding among contractors will be competitive.

“The bidding market will very competitive and an advantageous market. If fuel prices continue to drop, contractors will be hungry,” Bittner says.

City Administrator Jennifer Feely recommended the council wait before deciding to see whether the city can afford to pay for the projects.

Because councilmember Mary McClain was not present, the council did not have enough members to take action.

In other business, the council agreed to pay a tree-trimming bill for $2,875 out of the contingency fund.

How the bill should be paid is what sparked a lot of discussion.

Pfeffer Tree Service was hired for $150 per hour to trim tree branches to a minimum height of 13.5 feet above the curb when some residents did not respond to letters sent out by the city.

Feely recommended contingency funds be used to pay Pfeffer and councilman Paul Loomis then made a motion to pay the bill.

But Gates asked why it wasn’t discussed earlier how the bill was going to be paid.

“It’s going to be paid, I just want to know where the money is going to come from,” Gates says.

“We have a bill. We have money in the contingency fund. Let’s pay the bill,” Loomis responded. “I think the city better pay their bills.”

This year’s unused contingency funds of $4,000 were to be used for a concession stand at the Winnebago community ball field.

Feely says the city has used $12,000 to remove a tree that was unsafe and clean up yards in the city.

“I think that’s what the contingency fund is for,” she adds.

When Loomis’ motion failed, he made another motion that funds from the street department be used.

“That department is pretty much maxed out for this year,” says Feely.

The council agreed to pay the bill out of the contingency fund.

In other business:

• In February 2009, residents may have another choice when it comes to cable television.

Blue Earth Valley Communications made a request for a franchise agreement.

Mediacom currently is providing service to residents under an agreement that is effective until 2014.

• The council approved a $15 hike in rent for the city’s four duplexes. Beginning Jan. 1, rent will go from $400 a month to $415.