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Wells Council holds two closed sessions

By Staff | Feb 16, 2020

There was not one, but two closed sessions on the agenda for the Wells City Council last Monday, Feb. 10, during their regular meeting. The council went into closed session to discuss a pending litigation strategy, as well as employee misconduct issues.

The first closed session began at approximately 5:34 p.m. and was reopened at 6:21 p.m. The city’s attorney, David Frundt, summarized the discussion on code violations, and the council took no action.

With regard to the closed session regarding employee misconduct issues, a motion was made by Crystal Dulas and seconded by Brenda Weber to approve the suspension without pay of employee Kelsey Stevermer, office specialist for the city of Wells, pending an investigation of a misconduct complaint. All were in favor of the motion.

In other business, the council discussed snow blower funds for the street department’s utility vehicle. It was reported by the city’s street foreman Mike Pyzick, who was not present at the meeting, the city’s snow blower had an issue with the last snowfall. The snow blower had broken a shaft and is in need of repair.

“The street department welded it back together a couple of times to be able to finish up blowing the snow, but it does need to be fixed,” said city administrator CJ Hall. “They are taking it up to McQueen’s, in St. Paul, to get it fixed. If you remember, we had set aside dollars, about $13,000 for a new blower and that blower was one that wasn’t going to work for them. We had that money in the budget and the council set another $5,000 aside beyond that for other equipment and $2,000 for investment savings. So, the request from Mike was to use those dollars, about $18,000, to purchase a new utility vehicle and then use the gator that we currently have out at the golf course. I think we’ve talked about it before. We did have that gator in the budget but we took that out at the end of the year.”

The council discussed whether the purchase should be made for the vehicle.

It was originally thought the old gator would be used specifically at the golf course, but was decided the gator would be shared with the street department.

“All of a sudden, when I was at the park board meeting, we were discussing it. Mike then started to say that then they could have the other gator when they aren’t using it out at the golf course and then they would have two gators to run about,” said Weber. “The way the new gator is dressed out, it’s dressed out to be like a small pickup. So they thought they were going to use it in the winter time if need be. Which would you rather use in the winter? A pickup or a gator? It’s dressed up pretty nice.”

“I think it’s pretty clear cut and dried with what the blower just told us, here in the last snowfall, is that funds need to stay where they’re at for a new blower,” added Mayor David Braun.

“I know some guys that actually have a 1985 snow blower and it gets used a lot. It’s got 2,400 hours on it. They’ve got things on it that break and they just fix it. Just because it’s broke doesn’t mean you just turn around and buy something brand new,” Weber replied.

“That’s why last meeting I suggested maybe we don’t go brand new. We could take that money and overhaul that loader,” Braun responded.

“They even said at over 1,000 hours that snow blower isn’t even broke in,” said Weber. “Right now they got one in Blue Earth that’s from 1980s and that thing works through a lot of ice. They’re going along those bulldoze things on the state roads and stuff. They’re meant to do that. You just fix it.”

“Didn’t we keep money aside to do an overhaul?” asked Dulas.

Holl stated the council had come to the conclusion at the end of the year there did not seem to be a need and the dollars were not set aside.

“What we were looking at was a different type of blower that was going to be about $65,000 and we were going to lease it over five years, lease to own,” said Holl. “Upon testing it, that blower didn’t work right for the needs of the city, nor was it fast enough so the street department decided it wouldn’t fit their needs. So, we had put that in the budget with the intention of buying that other blower, but didn’t.”

“Yeah, so I think the blower we currently have is a good blower. If something breaks, you fix it, that’s just a part of maintenance,” Weber stated to the council.

“What needs to be fixed now on the blower, I’m not sure what that cost is yet,” shared Holl.

“But it’s a far cry from $65,000,” replied Weber.

“I still think we need the overhaul on it. Have another brand new blower for another 25 years,” added Mayor Braun.

“Is there a reason we go all the way to St. Paul to get it fixed when there’s just drive shafts that need to be fixed versus like taking it out to B&D?” questioned Dulas. She was informed by Holl that the city had worked with McQueen’s previously.

“I know they worked with McQueen before, that’s where they got the blower at, but it’s in St. Paul,” said Dulas. “That’s like a full day’s wages spent going all the way up there. And if you want to pay that, that’s fine, but on the city’s side, it seems like it would be a little more efficient to see if B&D can fix it first.”

Holl responded that he would check in with Pyzick and bring more information to the council.

The council also discussed the sale of the old liquor store building to the Wells VFW. The council then passed a resolution, with councilman John Herman not present at the regular meeting, for the conveyance of real property owned by the city of Wells to Frank J. Kalis Post 1778 Wells VFW for a sale price of $28,000.

The next regular Wells City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m.