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Wells employee issue may head to mediation

By Staff | Apr 29, 2012

Members of the Wells City Council are hoping differences can be ironed out before they have a “doggone” problem on their hands.

In April, animal control officer Robert Waack decided to call it quits.

In his resignation letter to council members, Waack cited conflicts with Police Chief Jim Ratelle several times as the reason for stepping down.

At the council’s meeting on Monday night, City Administrator Jeremy Germann presented information regarding contracting services with the county instead of filling the position.

A one-page contract Faribault County animal control officer Todd Heenan has with other cities shows he is paid $14 an hour, receives 55 cents per mile both ways and charges $15 a month for cell phone use.

Councilwoman Ann Marie Schuster calculates the cost to the city would be about $60 per call. And, a conservative estimate of 50 calls a year comes out to be $3,000.

“Is there any way you would reconsider?” Councilman Jim Durfee asked Waack, who was in attendance.

Waack said no, but was open to Durfee’s suggestion of mediating any disagreements he has with the police chief.

“It would be smart to work something out. This (contracting services) looks like megabucks to get it done,” says Durfee.

Councilman Steve Burns says he would like to see a local person fill the position.

Under Heenan’s contract, all stray animals are taken to the pound in Blue Earth, where he lives.

“It would be better to have somebody in town. They could be available and be proactive,” Burns says.

Last year, the city of Wells spent $550 on animal control costs being billed at $10 a call.

In 2010, the city was charged $400 and $920 in 2009.

For now, police officers will pick up strays and take them to the local pound.

In other dog news, Councilwoman Ashley Seedorf says residents need to be reminded to clean up after their dogs while walking their pet, especially in park areas.

Germann says he’s had some complaints. He says an ad could be put in the newspaper to remind people and it could also be posted on the city’s website.

In other business, the council:

Tabled action on a 10-year lease agreement with Wells Public Utilities to rent the recycling building at 425 5th Ave. S.E. with an option to buy.

The agreement would allow purchase of the building for an additional $25,000 with approval from the City Council and public utilities board.

Lease payments would be deducted from a purchase price of $50,000.

Durfee says he thinks the building is worth more and Germann should get value estimates.

Accepted a bid of $113,113 from Boyer Trucks of Rogers for a dump truck.

Approved paying $14,000 to Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP for the 2011 audit.

Germann says results are expected to be presented at the May or June council meeting.

OK’d the theater board’s project to spend $2,335 to update the movie poster display on the front of the Flame Theatre.