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Library’s heat topic at W’bago meeting

Council also sets preliminary tax levy increase at 29 percent

By Fiona Edberg - Staff Writer | Sep 26, 2021

The Winnebago City Council had to make some tough decisions about the boiler and furnace in the Muir Library, and opted to install two new furnaces.

The Winnebago City Council called a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22, to scratch some odds and ends off of their to-do list.

The council addressed several issues which were tabled at their previous regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

The council first returned to the issue of how to keep the Muir Library warm this winter.

Librarian Nicole Krinke was present to explain the library’s current conundrum.

“The boiler does not work right now,” Krinke shared. “We have a furnace that runs the back rooms.” This issue will leave the primary front portion of the library frigid once temperatures begin to drop.

Krinke brought a wide variety of quotes to the council from Ron’s Plumbing HVAC & Electric Inc, Meyer Plumbing & Heating LLC, and Electric Service Co., Inc.

The council had more to weigh than price differences, however. Another pressing question was whether to repair the boiler which is currently installed in the library, or spend a bit more to replace it.

The possibility of additional funds which could go toward replacing the boiler complicated the issue.

“Right now, the library capital fund has around $6,500,” city administrator Jacob Skluzacek explained. “One resident called today, planning to make a $1,000 donation to the library.”

This still would not have been enough to enable the replacement of the boiler. However, Krinke had additional funds to add to the equation.

Krinke said, “We will have money left over in our repairs budget. If we put those together, it will cover the cost of the new furnaces.”

Given this, the council was left to debate whether they preferred to repair the current boiler for a lower cost, or spring to replace the boiler entirely and avoid having to re-address the issue at a later date.

“I think replacing the heat exchanger in the boiler is nothing but a $2,100 band-aid,” council member Paul Eisenmenger asserted.

He continued, “It might get us by for a while, I don’t know, but I think the furnaces would be a better option. It costs a heck of a lot less to maintain a furnace than it does a boiler.”

Council member Tim Hynes agreed. “I think repairing the boiler, we’re not going forward, we’re going backward.”

After some discussion, the council agreed replacing the boiler with two furnaces was the way to go.

The Winnebago City Council accepted a quote from Electric Service Co., Inc to replace the boiler with two Lennox furnaces for a total of $10,224.

Owner and operator of B&B Sanitation & Recycling (B&B), Chris Cyphers, also attended the meeting to discuss new contracts between the city of Winnebago and B&B.

The contracts set the terms under which B&B will provide pick-up services for Winnebago citizens’ recyclable household waste, and curbside pickup service for their solid waste and garbage.

Though Cyphers has agreed to provide B&B’s services for the city of Winnebago, he wanted to clarify several points in the contracts which he was dissatisfied with.

“I didn’t get these until yesterday afternoon,” Cyphers said. “I went through them and found some things.”

“One big thing we ran into was we had to change the recycling amount to cover the cost of the city billing, because legally it can’t be separated,” Cyphers continued.

Apart from methods of billing, Cyphers also shared updates need to be made to the recycling contract regarding requirements for collection of recyclable materials.

“In the proposal, bundled and tied cardboard is only allowed outside of the road cart,” Cyphers said, requesting the existing contract be worded to state this.

Cyphers also requested a few changes to the contract for solid waste removal.

Cyphers asked that the contract be changed to reflect that the price rate for garbage tags will be set at current market cost, rather than set by the Winnebago City Council.

Cyphers also requested the start time for waste collection be changed from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. “People may put out their trash too late otherwise,” he explained.

Cyphers wanted a two year extension stated in the contract, and also wanted to adjust the start time of the new program, which is currently stated as Dec. 31.

“I would rather not deliver roll carts over Christmas,” Cyphers said. “We have to deliver them, so I would say Dec. 1.”

After making notes to amend the contracts according to Cyphers’s requests, the council passed a motion to approve the contracts with B&B, pending the indicated changes.

Other business discussed by the Winnebago City Council included: 

• Passing a resolution to set the preliminary tax levy at $887,248.32, a 29 percent increase from last year.

The council clarified this number is a starting point, and will most likely be reduced before the final levy is set in December.

“Obviously this is a worst-case scenario,” Hynes said. “Hopefully we don’t have to end up at this number. But it shows us what we have to deal with.”

• A closed session during which the council negotiated terms of their next contract with one of the unions in the city of Winnebago. Nothing was voted on by the council, as the meeting was merely discussion.

• Negotiations with Randy Ness and Judy Gettis regarding a purchase agreement Ness has with the Marsh family for a lot near Highway 169.

The council agreed to cover fees for a survey which must be conducted to redraw property lines, as well as fees for quick claim deeds. The council also agreed to grant Ness access to Seventh Street, which runs along the property toward a lift station.

Finally, the council agreed to research the best way to address a powerline which runs diagonally along the property, and which Ness would like to either bury or move.