By Clay Schuldt
Special to the Caledonia Argus
The July 23 Caledonia City Council meeting began with Caledonia’s contract waste water treatment operator, Todd Arlander, giving an update on his activities. Currently, the crew at the plant is in the cleanup and organizing phase to ensure proper records are maintained.
Council member Tom Murphy requested that Arlander begin the budget process for capital expenditures and annual expenditures for next year. Arlander agreed to assist operator Ryan Skillings with developing next year’s expense budget.
Mayor Robert Burns inquired if the heat is having any negative effect on the plant. “It’s a good question,” Arlander said, “because in waste water, there is an area where you can get too hot and you start to have a problem.”
Arlander explained that it is possible for the heat to affect waste water tanks and alter the state of the bacteria inside. Fortunately, this problem has not occurred in Caledonia.
Later in the meeting the council discussed a land appraisal that is required if the water treatment plant needed to be relocated. Zoning Administrator Michael Gerardy explained that this was part of the sanitary sewer project. A stipulation to the project required that Caledonia find an alternative location for the waste water plant.
Gerardy felt that the most logical location was on property near County Road 5. This site is situated where the current plant’s waste water discharges. In the event the treatment plant was relocated, Caledonia would first need to purchase the property. This will require a level four appraisal. Gerardy explained that Caledonia may never need to purchase this land, but the city does need to conduct an appraisal to pass all NPCA requirements for loan consideration.
“In order to participate in the public finance agency for sewer improvements you have to demonstrate that you are planning for the future,” explained Interim City Administrator Paul Sparks. “You don’t actually have to end up buying the site, you don’t actually have to end up building the plant, but you have to show you are giving it some thought.”
Mayor Burns said the current condition of the plant is not an issue. The appraisal is simply a formality. “It sounds like this is something that if we don’t do it, we’re locking ourselves up,” he said.
Murphy requested that a right of first purchase should be added to ensure the property is not sold to a third party following the appraisal.
Mayor Burns made a motion to authorize the payment of up to $4,000 for a level four appraisal of the recommended site. The motion was approved by the council.
In addition, Sparks informed the council that a new colorimeter for the water and sewer utilities was purchased. The colorimeter failed earlier in the year and was temporarily fixed. Following a second breakdown an emergency purchase of a new colorimeter was made. The total cost of the colorimeter came in at $1,251.05.
Gerardy brought a recommendation to the council for the approval of an eight-foot setback variance on 514 South Pine Street’s north property line. The variance was requested by Janeen Johnson in order to build an enclosed carport measuring 15 by 26 feet (390 square feet). The carport has been on the property for several years. The request simply encloses and connects it to the garage. The council approved the zoning request.
City clerk hiring process
Caledonia City Council has begun the hiring process for a permanent city administrator. At this time Caledonia has received 11 applications for the position. The council chose to set aside a special meeting on Monday, July 30 for the purpose of reviewing the applications to decide which candidates to interview.
• Interim Administrator Sparks brought up an issue involving a fundraiser hosted by the Legion at St. Mary’s Church. The fundraiser will be giving away free beer and accepting free will donations. Sparks was concerned that while no alcohol was technically being sold, this might require further permitting.
“It’s not your laws that will be in conflict, it might be a state law on whether you can give away free beer,” Sparks said. “We’ve just got to make sure we are not doing anything wrong.” Sparks plans to confirm with the League of Minnesota Cities that this does not constitute any licensing. No action was taken on the item.
• The council passed a motion to transfer a $250 donation for the American Legion to the police reserves for reimbursement of an electric display sign purchase. The council also discussed setting a fee for the use of the sign for special non-city events. The council chose to accept free will donations – recommended at $10 – for use of the electricity to power the sign.
• The early bird swimmers asked if the city pool could stay open for an additional week to allow swimming in the early morning. The swimmers agreed to pay for the additional lifeguard time. The council approved the request, and the pool will remain open until Aug. 24.
• The school crossing guard agreement was approved for a further year. A stop light will be installed at the crossing guard intersection on Hwy. 44. The council said they felt the guards were necessary for another year until traffic on Hwy. 44 is use to the stop light.
• The council approved the purchase of a new computer tower from Affordable Technology solutions at a cost of $694.69. The purchase comes following the failure of an outdated city computer. The data from the old computer will be transferred into this new tower as part of the purchase.
• Houston County Public Health submitted a declaration of a Chemical Investigation Site/Public Health Nuisance on the drug lab seized at Sunrise Lane last month. County ordinance requires that the City of Caledonia arrange to have the property vacated and cleaned and notify public health that these arrangements have been made.
• The council approved the hire of Thomas Mueller and Brandon Harris as part-time Caledonia Police Officers.
The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 13 at 6 p.m.