By Clay Schuldt
Special to the Caledonia Argus
After a special meeting on Sept. 5 the Caledonia City Council agreed that setting the preliminary levy at eight percent would be a good place to start. They officially adopted the item Sept. 10. Eight percent represents initial budget projections and may change.
Bob Klug, Steve Bauer, Allen Meyer and James Jennings came before the council to address a waterline issue that has affected their properties. The waterline has been leaking for some time due to age, and the property owners requested it be replaced and moved. The waterline has been patched in the past, but the owners argued the patch work was no longer working and it was time to go with a complete replacement.
Leakage has soaked the ground and may be causing damage to a retaining wall. Meyer said he was upset the situation was not taken care of earlier. “This patching is not right. You do it over and over.”
The waterline is located on Klug’s property, running parallel to Hwy. 44 near Caledonia Implement. Klug is concerned that by installing a new line, property owners receiving water from the line would want a lifetime easement from Caledonia Implement. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t like lifetime easements on my property,” Klug said. Klug’s proposal was to take the waterline out into the utility easement by the highway.
Interim City Administrator Paul Sparks explained later in the meeting that an agreement with the state needed to be reached to place a waterline in the utility easement, but also pointed out the city may already have a prescribed easement through Klug’s property through period of use.
The issue came down to who should pay to have the line replaced. Councilman Paul Fisch commented that this issue seemed similar to a waterline problem on North Badger Street. Rather than replace the line the owner chose to go with a patch to save money.
Mayor Robert Burns said he felt the council was not in a position to make a decision at this time and suggested the council wait to hear from Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy.
Electrical shut off
The council received a complaint from Dave Dockendorf concerning the city’s electrical shut off policy. If a person moves out of the Loretto Heritage building mid-month the city performs a final reading, including a base charge and the usage to that point. Once the charges are put under Dockendorf’s name, another base fee of $10 and the balance of the usage for the remainder of the month are added. Dockendorf requested the council change the policy for a single base charge for that month.
The city has operated under this system for over 40 years and was not inclined to change Caledonia’s practices.
“I think the city needs to be paid for it,” Fisch said. “There is work involved. The $10 is probably not even covering the expenses.”
City Administrator Sparks agreed and suggested that Dockendorf place the second base fee on the individual moving out of the apartment or have the tenant pay for the full month and reimburse them the difference at the end of the month.
Faced with the inevitable break down of city hall’s copier, the council approved the purchase a copier and maintenance agreement with EO Johnson. A bid was also submitted from Metro-Sales and was $96.28 cheaper to lease per year. However, the majority of the council was reluctant to enter a deal with an unknown company. In addition, Metro-Sales closest representative was in Winona, while EO Johnson had offices in La Crosse.
The motion passed four to one with Councilman Murphy voting against.
New animal officer
Nick Rask was approved as Caledonia’s new animal control officer. Rask already possessed a rural site for detaining animals and had no issue with dispatching injured or dangerous animals. Prior to Rask’s hire, Marcie Jenson had been serving as Caledonia’s interim animal control officer since Mike Gavin retired from the position a few weeks earlier. Jenson already served as Spring Grove and Hokah’s animal control officer and met the necessary qualification, but the council agreed Rask would better meet Caledonia’s needs and was cheaper.
The item passed four to one with Councilwoman Randi Vick voting against.
The council discussed entering into a maintenance agreement with Affordable Technology Solutions (ATS) for the maintaining of Caledonia’s servers and other computers systems. The main point of contention was deciding how many hours per month ATS needed to be on call.
“What we’re doing is really buying their time,” council member Fisch said.
However, the council was unsure of how much time per month was sufficient to address computer maintenance. The major concern was maintaining the city servers as smaller day to day issues with the desktops could be managed by staff.
The council decided to seek a recommendation from ATS, as well as calculate how much was spent on computer maintenance over the last few years.
• The council approved a Law Enforcement Joint Powers Agreement for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting computer crimes committed against children. By approving the agreement Caledonia law enforcement will receive a federal grant for funding equipment, training and other expenses to combat online crimes. The grant will not exceed $320,000.
• The council agreed to make an initial payment on the Griffin Construction project for sewer rehabilitation in the amount of $90,169. This payment is the first of several on the $821,695 project. Work is expected to be complete July 1, 2013.
• The next city council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.