Wells budget gets worked on
The Wells City Council spent an hour prior to their regularly scheduled meeting last Monday, Nov. 27, to go into closed session to continue their discussion on LELS labor negotiations.
According to interim city administration staff member and chief of police Tim Brenegan, the LELS union and the city came to an agreement during the closed session before they opened their meeting to the public to continue their on-going discussion of their 2018 budget.
This budget work session also continued for about an hour and a half after the regular meeting. Topics of discussion included what many council members referred to as “big ticket items” including a potential street sweeper, the possibility of moving the Wells Liquor Store, and ongoing discussion of street improvement projects.
The council decided to hold another budget work session on Friday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m.
During the regular meeting, only one business item was on the agenda a petition for the establishment of a cartway for parcel which was received by the city on Nov. 17 from Steven J. Vatndal, attorney for Michael and Cynthia Weber.
City attorney David Frundt stated to the council, “this is going to be a hill we will have to climb and get over, and it will be a difficult climb” with regards to dealing with the petition to establish the cartway path, which the council did not approve of before when it was brought up by the Webers and Vatndal previously.
The tricky part for the council is the legal fees involved in the matter and an already tight budget.
The council did set a public hearing for the matter, which is required before the council can take any action on the petition. That hearing will occur at their next meeting.
The council decided to have Mayor David Braun work with the city attorney on the matter in detail, and bring back any response from the two parties at a later date.
The search for a new city administrator continues, with a timeline presented to the council from the South Central Service Cooperative. According to the timeline, the council approved the search agreement on Nov. 27, and from now until Dec. 1, the search consultant will develop a position announcement and make initial contacts.
On Dec. 4, applications will be open to the position, with a close date of Dec. 29.
In other business, City engineer Travis Winter is currently working on a survey for the road construction coming up in 2018. He informed the council he would have a report in the near future.
As for the new business park, it is still questionable what will get done. With the construction team already a month overdue on the progress they were supposed to make, Winter said they would be finishing up what they can and not continuing until spring.
“Have they given us any reason why they are so far behind?” asked councilwoman Crystal Dulas.
“We have no official response,” said Winter.
“Do you have an unofficial response?” said Dulas.
“I have talked with them and I think they have legit concerns but we have nothing official in writing,” said Winter.
“We have a little more grading to do, but I think that is about all we will see,” said Winter. “With the wet soil conditions, it was very hard to get anything further accomplished this late in the season,” said Winter.
Brenda Weber also brought up a question about the size of tile being used for the project.
“You have tile heading down towards the creek, is that 24 inch tile?” asked Weber. When Winter confirmed the tile would be 24 inches, Webers response was such. “I heard comments that all of Wells could be flushed through 24 inch tile. Is that a concern for us? I also wonder, do we need to have that manhole access? Is that required?”
Winter explained that 24 inch tile would be sufficient for the use of a business park and that manholes were required, which helps give workers access if there is ever an issue with the tile.
Weber also asked about the utility bills at the Wells Municipal Liquor store and whether or not they would be splitting costs with the VFW?since the building is shared between the two entities.
According to the liquor store manager, Scott Berg, there is still some work to be done on splitting HVAC and water costs, but it was reported that the VFW and the liquor store entities will be talking before Dec. 1 to figure out a means of splitting costs efficiently.
Berg also spoke with the council on the potential of changing the liquor store hours, changing the Sunday hours from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The next Wells City Council meeting will be held on Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.