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W’bago cleanup costs unknown

By Staff | Oct 18, 2010

Austin Bleess

The city is going to help a few Winnebago residents who have asked for assistance in getting rid of items ruined by the heavy rains last month.

“I’ve talked to a couple of people who would appreciate having a way to get rid of stuff,” Councilman Dana Gates told the rest of the council.

Mayor Randy Nowak broke a tie 2-2 vote Tuesday night to pick up garbage for those who have registered at City Hall.

“About 36 people have signed up. We’re going to have to figure out how many still need the help,” says City Administrator Austin Bleess. “We’ll plan to contact them by phone to see if they’re still interested.”

Bleess says the city has no idea how much it will cost to pick up the garbage.

Bob Toland, police chief and the city’s emergency management director, says the council could pass a resolution requesting help from FEMA to cover any cleanup costs.

The council at first discussed having a citywide cleanup day.But, Councilman Rick Johnson says he heard that about 90 percent of the residents have already discarded any items that were ruined.

Johnson and Councilman Chris Ziegler both favor helping those who are registered, but residents who had cleaned up already would not get any financial help.

Councilwoman Holly Stauffer says the last time the city held a cleanup day it cost around $20,000. However, she thinks the city should assist people requesting help.

In other action, the council:

• Authorized City Attorney Douglas Johanson to work on the cleaning up of abandoned property at 232 Second St. NW. The cost will be added to the owner’s property taxes.

• Voted to transfer funds from the enterprise fund into the debt service fund.

Bleess says transferring the money will reduce the property tax levy by $29,000 in the coming year.

• Passed a resolution supporting the city of Albert Lea to ask the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reject or reduce Alliant Energy’s proposed 22 percent electric rate increase.

Alliant provides electricity for the city of Winnebago.

• Approved a flu shot clinic for all city employees. Ambulance crew member Cari Eastman will administer the shots.

Last year, 42 people received the shots. Eastman says 36 are on the list this year.

• OK’d a bid from Kaduce Plumbing and Heating to replace four furnaces in the city-owned duplexes for $6,508. The furnaces are 15 years old and were damaged by recent flooding.