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Pot-bellied pigs cause a stink at W’bgo City Council

By Staff | Sep 15, 2019

A number of Winnebago residents attended the Winnebago City Council meeting last Tuesday evening, Sept. 10, with questions and concerns about the cities’ pet ordinance and water billing snafu.

Add Winnebago to the list of cities being asked to review their current ordinance regarding what animals can legally be housed within city limits.

During the public comment portion of their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Winnebago City Council heard from a gentleman regarding a notice he had received regarding his potbelly pigs.

“I received notice that I was in violation of a city ordinance by having my pot-belly pigs, Bella and Penelope,” Winnebago resident Micheal Mahlstedt explained. “I had gotten permission from the city administrator five or six years ago to have them, but I admit I never got it in writing.”

It was also brought up there has never been any complaints concerning the pigs and other cities do allow potbelly pigs to be housed within city limits. There was also some discussion on whether potbelly pigs were considered farm animals or pets.

“I think we definitely have to look into this before we make a decision,” council member Jean Anderson said.

Council member Rick Johnson added, “I am also partial to looking into it. I would allow him to keep them for now.”

It was decided by the council Mahlstedt could continue housing his pot-belly pigs within the city limits for now until the council is able to review the current ordinance and determine if any changes need to be made.

Next, the council heard from Clint Froderman, who has brought forth a proposal to build a disc golf course in Winnebago.

“Several small rural towns are adding their own courses such as Fulda, Springfield, Sherburn, St. James, Worthington and New Ulm,” Froderman said.

The current proposal would have the course constructed to the south and east of the Winnebago Municipal Center.

Some concern was raised over whether the disc golf baskets would interfere with the tents used for Winnebago Fun Fest.

“They do make baskets which are not permanently installed, they have a locking collar which allows the basket to be removed,” Froderman explained.

It was decided by the council the proposal needed more study.

“I like the idea but I am not sure if I like the location,” Anderson noted.

The council next took up the problem of the inaccurate billing for water/sewer use over the last two months. Jacob Skluzacek, the city administrator, explained to those present at the meeting about the glitch which was found in the billing system as well as some problems which were experienced with the new meter reader.

“We believe everything has been corrected now,” Skluzacek said.

In order to correct the errors in the previous billings, the council voted to credit customers who were overcharged.

The council then moved on to a problem with unpaid bills. Both the Fire and Ambulance Departments have not been paid all the money they are due when they go out on a call. The amount they need to collect exceeds $15,000.

In order to attempt to start collecting from past-due accounts the council voted to hire American Accounts and Advisors to collect the past-due money. On a primary collection effort, American Accounts and Advisors would keep 20 percent of the money collected.

Should the firm have to go to a legal-rate form of collection, which has to be authorized by the city, American Accounts and Advisors would retain 40 percent of the money collected.

Continuing with other money matters, the council approved pay estimate No. 5 for work completed on the Northwest Street and Utility Improvement Project. The total amount paid to Holtmeier Construction was $413,482.63.

City engineer Travis Winter provided an update on the Northwest Project.

“The utility work is done for the year and they are now concentrating on road building,” Winter explained. “They will then be getting ready to gear up for next year.”

The last item on the agenda was to set the truth-in-taxation meeting for the year. The date for the meeting will be Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. The preliminary budget numbers total $716,836.64 but are likely to decrease before the final budget is set.