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Wells City Council prepares for 2019

By Staff | Dec 2, 2018

An amalgamation of topics were discussed at Wells’ recent City Council meeting on Nov. 26, and most of that discussion was budgetary planning for the upcoming Truth in Taxation meeting on Dec. 10.

The council set a work session for Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m. at City Hall to work out the logistics to prepare for setting their levy during the Truth in Taxation hearing.

City administrator CJ Holl also requested the City Hall employees begin their end-of-the-year reviews before the end of December. That includes his own position, which the council will review by the end of the year, as well.

A few of the budgetary topics that arose during the regular meeting were the city’s sidewalk resolution, the continuation of street improvements, and the discussion of the Wells Liquor Store.

With regards to Wells’ sidewalks, city councilwoman Crystal Dulas triggered the topic during Holl’s city administrator report, questioning how the city would prioritize whose sidewalks would be repaired with the sidewalk fund, and who would be responsible for fixing their own sidewalk.

As the city stands currently, citizens are responsible for their own sidewalks, which includes replacing them.

“We have some sidewalks from the 1930s still in town,” Holl informed the council.

After the city passed Resolution 2017-03, which created the new project fund for sidewalks, the city authorized a $2 sidewalk fee to be collected each month from each utility bill in Wells. So far, approximately $40,000 has been collected for sidewalks. That’s enough to do about three city blocks worth of repairs.

According to Holl, and city engineer Travis Winter, the city will be working on a priority list of which sidewalks are in dire need of repair. Holl also shared that there are more sidewalks in the city of Wells than the average Minnesota city.

“This is both an asset and an obstacle for us,” said Holl.?

He also stated that, over time, our sidewalks will be a great asset to the city with prosperous walking and biking trails, but for now, council will have to focus on figuring their priorities and being organized and transparent to the citizens about the progress of this future project.

On the topic of laying concrete, the city also discussed the state of the Sixth Street project.

On Nov. 16, just hours before the city of Wells celebrated Wells Does It Bright and was pelted with approximately two inches of snow, the city’s Sixth Street SW was paved with asphalt in the nick of time. Currently, the street just has the first layer of asphalt covering the street, and neither people’s driveways nor sidewalks were completed before the snow and frigid temperatures flew. Cement curb radiuses and aprons were also incomplete.

“That’s all we are going to get done this season, we are froze up,” said the city’s engineer. “We will be adding gravel to the driveways for winter and in spring we will have to put in the rest of the curb, do patching, and the final asphalt.”

The city has already expressed its concern with GM Contracting’s messy timeline to complete the project after some good-weather days went without work. GM Contracting sent a letter stating there were 48 days from May to October they were unable to work due to weather conditions.

To add insult to injury, GM Contracting also sent a letter to the city to request cold-weather costs.

“Unfortunately, the delays encountered on this project pushed the work into cold weather,” the letter reads. “GM Contracting and its subcontractors have incurred extra costs to work in these conditions and may also continue to incur extra costs, including but not limited to remobilizing and completing the work next year. At this time, we respectfully ask for an adjustment on the concrete pouring in the cold weather conditions.”

And the cost of those cold-weather conditions an estimated $20,620.80 by GM Contracting’s calculations. Winter informed the council the actual number would probably be half of that due to the insufficient amount actually completed.

“This happens occasionally. There is legitimacy to the claim,” explained Winter. “The request is over $20,000 assuming all concrete is done. It’s probably less than $10,000.”

Questions arose as to whether or not there would be abnormal contract costs in the spring, to which Winter stated, “I think it’s going to be fine.”

For now, the issue of the Sixth Street SW costs was tabled by the City Council, and will be discussed in their next meeting.

During their meeting the council also:

Renewed four establishments’ tobacco licenses for the 2019 year.

Approved of the resignation of library coordinator, Tami Beto. Holl stated the city has already received multiple applications for the open position.

Received the report of special assessments to utilities for 2018.