Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kiel City Council Agenda Items 11/2/10 (Long!)

Kiel City Council Agenda Meeting

The agenda for the November City Council meetings was set last night. While I can't explain everything in the detail it was presented, here are the highlights.

As of December 1, 2010, landfills will no longer accept electronic equipment. The City Council is looking into ways that this issue can be addressed, including getting quotes/ideas from other townships for a recycling program. EarthWise Recycling from Sheboygan expressed interest in becoming a type of middle manager for the recycling of these articles. They charge a fee for TVs, computer monitors, microwaves and printers. Most other electronic items are free.

The City is looking into the possibility of purchasing a street sweeper to replace the one that has had repair issues this last year. The one roaming our streets (big orange sweeper) is on loan and the cost would strain the budgeted amounta for this item. They are looking at a 1994 Elgin Sweeper from New Franken. This sweeper, from what I understand, has 15,700 miles on it (not sure on the hours used) and the seller is asking $23,500 for the machine. A new one would cost over $200,000. With between 22 and 23 miles of city streets that need sweeping periodically through the year, a purchase like this is being looked at as an option.

Dennis Dedering said that he would have quotes for city snow removal ready for next weeks' City Council Meeting.

Mary Christel requested the board's approval for a non-combustible shelter, built by any of the clubs or groups in town, to be placed on the top of the sledding hill. The City would haul and store this shelter, as it does with the skating shelter.

The Wastewater Treatment Facility is looking to hire a new employee. This person would be considered an operator/mechanic with some lab duties as necessary. It sounded like they would prefer someone with certification, but if the right person applied, they would train. This position would cost approximately $85,000 which includes all benefits. The possible hire date would not be until after January 1, 2011.

The WWTF is seeking Council approval to start looking at a design to treat the wastewater biologically, rather than with chemicals. They have done a test run which showed that the phosphorus level is at 1.4. The DNR regulations require a phosphorus level of 1.0 if treated with chemicals or a level of 2.0 if treated biologically. The savings on chemicals would be approximately $70,000 per year.

The WWTF is drawing up a 10-year plan to present to the DNR to increase their points that the DNR then assigns to grants and/or stimulus monies. This plan looks at priorities for the city's needs and the possibility of expansion.

The sewer work is a top priority. The City of Kiel has approximately 250 sewer sections (manhole to manhole). They currently have 50 sections televised for leaks, clogs, and other problems, leaving 200 sections yet to be televised.

The other project that the WWTF is looking at in the future is the possibility of treating the methane gas from the WWTF to run a generator which would then sell the excess power back to the grid or to sell the methane gas (treated) as a natural gas, to large consumers such as industrial or commercial customers. It seems that, with treatment, methane gas can be used in place of natural gas. An interesting option.

Next on the agenda is the Electric Rate Study. I'll admit, this one was a little confusing, so bear with me, please.

The first item discussed was the hydro project. Of the five steps to get the hydro project going, two of them have been completed.

Approval from all the members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) has been done.
A purchase agreement with the seller of the hydro-electric project has been completed.
The PSC has to approve buying the energy produced
The Federal regulations must be met
The Financing has to be approved.

Electric rates are set to go up sometime between February and April. There has not been a rate filing by the City of Kiel since 2002, and the last two years, the income has been in the red—negative. The PSC determines how much an increase will be and when. The City has no say in that. Right now, we are approximately 25% below New Holstein electric rates. We are looking at a potential increase of anywhere between 5.0% and 5.7%. The City can file for a rate increase every year, every other year, or as needed. We are thankful that the City has not “adjusted” our rates in the last years, but all good things come to an end.

The retirement of the City custodian as of the end of the year was another topic of discussion. The custodial position covered some maintenance and janitorial work, as well as lawn cutting, trimming, and snow removal. As this position is responsible for not only City Hall, but the Police Station, Fire Station, Library, Stoelting House, Historical House, and the Community Center, a thorough job description is needed. The last job description written up for this position was in 1971. It was discussed whether to split this position into two part-time positions—one janitorial and one maintenance/snow removal or to see if someone would be able to cover the entire position as the current custodian has in the past.

Chief Funkhouser's report was uplifting. He thanked the Council for allowing him to attend a conference and accept an award. He spoke about the honor and recognition Kiel Police have received at the national level and also brought up the fact that 80% of police departments are made up of less than 20 people, of which we are one.

The Sleigh Bell Run is scheduled for December 4th. The police will be closing off Sixth Street for the safety of the walkers/runners in this event.

In the case of Ryan Zellner, all three counties involved are consolidating their cases into one case. I understand Mr. Zellner is to appear before a judge sometime in the next 4-6 weeks.

The “Round-About Jumper” as he's being called, was also talked about. The officer who witnessed the event was at McDonalds responding to a suspicious car. He heard the car coming south on Hwy 67. He was approaching the round-about at a very high rate of speed (eyeball was approximately 90mph) and didn't touch the brakes until he was in mid-air. The officer said the vehicle cleared the sapling at the top of the round-about and crashed down, breaking a large piece of cement from the curb. The driver took off on foot, but was traced to a medical facility (but missed by minutes) and turned himself in the following day. He admitted to consuming 5 cans of beer, so alcohol was a factor.

Other police business included addressing two cars in impound. The Chief will have to work with a lawyer to get clear titles on these so they can be scrapped out—neither of them are in working condition.

Thefts from cars continue in both Kiel and New Holstein. A laptop was stolen from a car in the River Terrace Subdivision, and other items have been reported missing from unlocked garages and vehicles. Make a point to lock your vehicles if parked outside and to lock garages in the evening.

Five minors were arrested during the Kiel Homecoming festivities for drugs. Some, if not all, were charged with selling drugs inside the High School. Three students have already been expelled from the High School, with the other two facing the same charges.

Kiel Picnic Committee has asked that the City extend the area to include all of the Fifth Street area between the Sts. Peter and Paul UCC and the businesses on the other side of this street for an additional band area. The Council recommended that a more formal plan for this request be presented.

Addressing Joint Dispatch, the need to maintain console updates and certification was mentioned.

On Friday, in remembrance of Sgt. Amy Krueger and the Fort Hood massacre, there will be a silent run from the Police Station to the Fire Station and past the three schools. Council members agreed unanimously to this and will take part if at all possible.

There have been no complaints regarding the Smoking Ban that the State enacted. There have been many positive comments from bar/tavern owners in appreciation for the work done between the City Council, Police, and the owners.

Another State approval that hasn't been mentioned all that much is the allowing of 4-wheelers on the road for snow removal use. The drivers of this equipment must be at least 16 years old, the vehicles must have a snowplow attached, the vehicles must have a flashing light visible for 300 yards and the operators must be within two miles of their residence.

The Kiel Police Department was approved for a taser grant. This will allow the police to obtain, train and use these non-deadly tools in keeping the peace. Kiel and New Holstein are the only two cities in the immediate area that don't have tasers at this time.

Last, but definitely not least, the City Hall Building was addressed. According to last year's quotes, it would cost over $1.3 million to remodel the first floor of the building and upgrade the electrical and wiring. To demolish and rebuild would be $2.7 million and offer better utilization of the space. The Council does have the right to make this decision without going to referendum because more than 50% of the space is used for Public Safety i.e. the Police Station and EMS. However, it was agreed that something of this magnitude should go before the people. The spring election will include this referendum with cost numbers for a complete remodel vs. a demolition and rebuilding in the same location.

There is a lot going on and a lot to stay on top of. We'll do our best to keep everyone informed. If anyone has differing numbers or information on the items in this post, please let me know—I can only report what I heard and understood—and my hearing isn't the greatest sometimes!

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