By Clay Schuldt
Caledonia Police Officer Chad Heuser submitted a letter of resignation, which was accepted by the city council at their April 8 regular meeting. As a result, the council agreed to promote officer Jackie Lund to full-time. Earlier in the year Lund had been hired as part-time officer. With Lund’s promotion to full-time, the council voted to fill her part-time position.
A motion was made to hire Nate Pearson as the new part-time officer, which passed with a 4 to 1 vote with Councilmember Tom Murphy voting against.
Officer Sheldon Haedtke was also approved as a new part-time officer.
City garbage change
It was announced during the council meeting that Richard’s Sanitation plans to begin collecting both trash and recycling on the same day throughout Caledonia. The new pick up day will be Monday at 7 a.m. The reason for the change is due to increased efficiency in the collection process. Originally Richard’s Sanitation was unable to collect everything in a single day.
Mayor Burns’ only concern over the change was a need to guard garbage bags from animals. By stretching the collection day out, residents run the risk of having garbage bags ransacked by cats, crows or raccoons. However, it was pointed out by council member Randi Vick that garbage could be kept inside cans as long as it is also stored in a trash bag.
Richard’s Sanitation is making the change effective May 6.
Waste water position
The council continued discussion about the waste water position. During the previous meeting the council considered options for hiring a new, qualified employee to help juggle the work load of the water department after employee Ryan Skillings has taken on extra responsibilities over the last few months.
Mayor Robert Burns said that one of the candidates interviewed was qualified for the position and had experience; however, the council was hesitate to hire the individual based on the wage requested, which was considerably more than the union’s contract starting wage. At the time the council agreed to table the issue until the union could be contacted about the issue. Since the March 25 meeting the union expressed no issue with the starting wage, but did have problems with the benefit package requested.
Councilmember Robert Lemke said it was unlikely Caledonia could find a better option as few Class A Water Operators are available.
Councilmember Dwayne Schroeder believed it was possible to negotiate with the candidate and said the city should at least offer an alternative deal. “I think we’ve got to make him an offer and if he turns us down, then we’ve got to go to plan B, but we’ve got to get someone here to start helping.”
No decision was reached at this meeting. The council is continuing to research its options with the union and personnel committee.
Hearing date set
A public hearing on a zoning amendment was set for the next city council meeting on April 22 at 6:15 p.m. The hearing involves a request from Wade Cordes, who is requesting to build a 2,300 square foot home with a 940 square foot attached garage. The lot for the proposed construction is on a cul-de-sac at Doering Estates and is bordered by two streets, which creates a unique zoning issue.
City Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy explained that a 10 foot variance is needed on the back of the house to create uniformity in the cul-de-sac. Without the variance the gap between the Cordes home and the next neighboring home would be 40 feet. No will be taken by the council until after the April 22 hearing.
Verizon site lease
An Amendment to Verizon’s Site Lease Agreement with the City of Caledonia was submitted to the City Council. The Amendment is intended to clarify the language regarding the antennas on the northwest water tower. A conference call was made during the Council meeting to Verizon representatives. As the Council had only recently received an updated amendment, Attorney Tim Murphy recommended asking for extra time to review the document. The Council agreed through consensus to review the amendment and reach a decision during the April 22 meeting.
City improvement districts
The city council voted to support a legislation that will allow cities to create street improvement districts. City Administrator Ted Schoonover said, “It’s just one more option out there; one more funding source to utilize if you are so inclined.”
This authority allows cities to collect fees from property owners within a district to fund municipal street maintenance, construction, reconstruction and facility upgrades.
“I think you need keep your mind open to any revenue sources there are,” Councilmember Murphy said. “I think that this council has had a hope for a comprehensive street improvement program, and I think that once the city is on top of the sewer improvement I think the council should go forward and start planning street improvement.”
Murphy made the motion to support the legislation, which was approved unanimously.
Kwik Trip intends on washing all the paved surfaces utilizing both high pressured and high temperature water this spring. The company requested the city allow for the disposal of the waste water in Caledonia treatment facility. All wash water will be collected and filtered to remove sediment. The council approved the request.
Letters of recommendation
Councilmember Murphy introduced discussion about city staff writing letters of recommendation. Murphy said city employees should not be allowed to use city stationary or city time to write letters of recommendation without the council’s consent.
Mayor Burns agreed that it would not be in the city’s best interest to have staff writing letters of recommendation as representation of behalf of Caledonia; however, no policy could be made preventing an individual from writing a recommendation on their own.
The council agreed to ask the league of Minnesota Cities for more information on the topic.
• The council approved a contract amendment with Visu-Sewer resulting in a $7,200 decrease to the contracted price.
• A motion was made and approved to purchase up to eight bags of clay for the maintenance and repair of the baseball field pitching mound.
• An on-sale liquor license permit was approved for the beer tent outside the grandstands during the Houston County Fair.
• The council voted to approve the “Pay it Forward” proclamation, which is part of an international effort to promote community spirit through acts of kindness. On April 25 people are encouraged to do good deeds for others. Pay it Forward Day was created in 2007 in Australia to further the altruistic movement of goodwill.