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W’bago spends $37K on contracts

By Staff | Jan 17, 2011

Austin Bleess

It took more than a year and several thousands of dollars for Winnebago officials to negotiate contracts with two labor unions.

On Tuesday, the City Council met in closed session for nearly 15 minutes before approving a contract with union Local 949, which represents two full-time police officers.

In December, the council approved an agreement for five union employees.

City Administrator Austin Bleess says once the employees voted in October 2009 to unionize, city officials hired Abrams & Schmidt of Arden Hills.

The total cost for legal services provided over 15 months — $36,945.

“The city decided it required having proper legal representation to make it work,” says Bleess.

Both contracts are for three years.

Mayor Randy Nowak says details of the agreements become public once they are signed by himself and the unions.

In other financial matters, council members rejected United Hospital District’s request to pay additional engineering costs of $4,307 for construction of a street near the new treatment center.

Under an agreement with UHD, the city agreed to pay $68,000 while the hospital district would pick up engineering and design costs.

City Administrator Austin Bleess administers the oath of office to Mayor Randy Nowak.

The final bill was $68,700, but UHD submitted an addendum that increased the price to $73,007.

Bleess says UHD administrator Jeff Lang provided an invoice regarding the engineering costs. He says Lang was invited to the Utility Committee’s January meeting, but did not attend.

On the recommendation of the Utility Committee, the council voted to pay only $68,700.

In other business, the council approved:

• The Fire Relief Association’s vote to increase annual retirement benefits from $725 to $800. Councilman Chris Ziegler abstained from voting because he is an association board member.

By agreeing with the increase, the city would have to pay the amount the association is unable to.

Fire Chief Dave Hurn told the council the last time benefits were raised was 2004. He assured them if the association has financial troubles, the rates will be decreased.

To be eligible for full benefits, firefighters must serve 20 years and be at least 50 years old.

• A new three-year contract with B & B Sanitation.

Dale Foster of B & B asked the council to amend the current contract to allow him to haul waste to a “legal and lawful location.”

Foster says the city is no longer obligated to take its garbage to Prairieland Compost because the contract with them has expired.

• A liquor license for the new owners of Downtown Tavern, formerly known as Crosswinds Tavern.

• Sale of the property known as “Scott Lot” at 48 4th Ave. SE, to Lawrence Sickler for $100.