Emmetsburg City Council held its first meeting of the new year Monday. Opening the session, Mayor Myrna Heddinger stated, "I look forward to four years of continued growth, working well between committees and council and moving forward toward growth of our community, making our city something we can be really proud of."
Council representatives discussed several issues, including the Monroe Street project. City Administrator John Bird encouraged the council to table action on three items on the agenda that involved the street improvement project.
After meeting with the project engineer, Bird reported to the council that the general contractor had not signed pay estimate #7 (which was on the agenda) because there was still some bickering about the overrun on the asphalt. An $8,000 discrepancy in the cost of the asphalt involves the contractors, but Bird said the council may not want to move forward until the matter is settled.
Also on the agenda was a resolution to accept the work on the Monroe Street project and order preparation of final pay and schedule of assessments.
"Back when you had your hearing there was some talk about lowering the preliminary assessments, and by that, altering your assessment methodology or policy," said Bird. "If there are any sentiments to change that at this level, you better be doing that soon."
Bird added, "I was pretty vocal back then and I will be now, too The project did come in a little under the contract, but it's so little that it's going to be unnoticeable on the assessments. I can't tell you what the assessments are going to be, but they will be pretty similar to the preliminary assessments."
"So they weren't exaggerated like they have been in the past?" asked Councilman Finer.
"After we got the bids on the project, we went through and looked at the assessable costs. They were close."
"The same formula was used for this project as the others?" asked Councilman Brian Malm.
"When we did the project in 1996-97, that's when they established that policy to assess the property owners: the curb and gutter, five-feet of the surface of the street and the work underneath it, and they also get assessed for their sanitary sewer and water services, if applicable, and not everybody has to have one. There were 473 or 483 properties assessed in the 1996-97 project alone, and then we had the South Grand project and the First Street project. A lot of people have paid assessments based on that method."
City Developer Steve Heldt reported to the council on Community Development Block Grant and CAT grant applications. Block Grant funding is being sought to refurbish business facades in a designated area of downtown Emmetsburg. CAT grant funding is being sought for the proposed community center.
The council's Finance Committee met before the regular council meeting. Chairman Brian Campbell said the committee discussed proposed changes in the health insurance plan.
"People in the office here thought the city should look at different plans and different options," said Campbell. "It looked like the HMA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) would be the most beneficial to the city and employees."
The HMA is offered through the Association of Municipal Utilities. A representative of the plan will attend the Jan. 23 meeting to explain the plan and answer questions.
The Monday, Jan. 23, council meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. City employees are encouraged to attend the meeting to learn about the proposed change in health care coverage.
The committee also discussed cost of living increase for the 2012-2013 budget year.
"Because we're still in negotiations on some contracts, we decided to put off any decision on that until the conclusion of those negotiations," said Campbell.
Council representatives approved Mayor Heddinger's appointments: Golf Board members Steve Finer, Corey Gramowski, Dave Zimmerman, Jane Whitmore, Dr. Kimberly Zimmerman, Marc Riley and Joni Cody; Laurie Schneider to the Municipal Utilities Board, replacing John Wright; Dave Carpenter to the Library Board, replacing Tony Stubbs.
"There was a comment made at the last council meeting when some of the appointments were not ratified," said Bird. "There was a comment made about the fact that those persons whose names were put up for appointment can't be brought up again and you'd have to find all new people. That is not true, but what does have to happen for the council to reconsider something that has been defeated a member of the council who voted to defeat the motion has to bring it back up. So any one of those appointments that did not get approved, one of the dissenting voters is going to have to make the motion to approve a mayoral appointment of that same person."
Resolutions were adopted recognizing PACGDC for their grant funding, and appreciation to John Schad and Sandy Pelzer.