Caledonia has clean audit

By Clay Schuldt

Caledonia Argus


Tom Wente of Smith Schaffer & Associates gave a presentation to the Caledonia City Council April 22 on the 2012 financial summary.  Overall, Caledonia received an unqualified “clean” opinion for 2012. This indicates the auditor has no significant reservation regarding the city’s financial statements.

Wente said the city’s water, sewer and electrical funds are generating sufficient cash flow to service outstanding bonds and maintain cash reserves. Other findings indicate that Local Government Aid (LGA) contributes more than property taxes toward revenue.

Wente did make the suggestion that the city consider breaking out fire, ambulance and library into separate funds, which is a common practice in other communities.


Open burning

City Zoning Administrator Mike Gerardy and Schoonover began researching ordinances related to burning after a request came in to have an open burn pit.

The two presented an example ordinance from Red Oak, Iowa.

The council instructed Schoonover to have the city attorney review the ordinance as well as the nuisance abatement procedure ordinance before making a decision.


One-way street request

Caledonia Elementary School is requesting the creation a one-way street off Grove Street toward Washington Street next to the school to allow parents to pick up kids.  The school board will need to vote on the issue before any changes take place.


Baseball park sound system

For the last few years Veteran’s Memorial Park has received several improvements but lacked its own speaker system.

The cost of a new system is estimated at no more than $3,000. The American Legion previously agreed to donate $1,500 of the total cost. The council authorized using $1,500 for the new speaker system out of the  municipal liquor store surplus.

A Ballpark Night will be held at the park on Thursday, June 20.

Waste water operator

After weeks of consideration the Caledonia City Council voted to hire a full-time employee to work as a waste water treatment plant operator during the April 22 meeting.  For the past several months water department employee Ryan Skillings has taken on extra responsibilities while the city searched to fill the vacant position.

“At this point I think Mr. Skillings will be happy with any option we choose,” said City Administrator Ted Schoonover.

During the last two meetings the council debated between two applicants.

This time Mayor Robert Burns made a motion to hire Craig Nelson as full-time waste water employee, to begin on a part-time basis. The motion was seconded by Council member Robert Lemke and approved by the rest of the council.

Nelson is currently finishing school and will graduate at the end of this semester with a Class D license in water/waste water.  Nelson will begin assisting current waste water operator Skillings this summer.

In a related matter, the council agreed to send Skillings to the basic land application of bio-solids seminar for further education.

Skillings currently has a Class C license and is working toward obtaining a Class B license.  Schoonover said it will be at least four years until Skillings will be eligible for a Class A license.


Zoning topics

A change order from Griffin Construction for the sanitary sewer rehabilitation project was approved. This change order adds construction of a manhole on North Sprague; an additional hydrant on the corner of Lincoln and Winnebago; and replacement of a storm sewer inlet and piping on Lincoln and Pine. The total increase is $12,299.

Two lift station repairs are needed. The council approved the $406 expense to repair the Grant Street lift station; however, a decision on the Bissen Street lift station was tabled until next meeting.

Council member Dewayne Schroeder was surprised to learn the Bissen Street station was having pump problems and said the pumps are not that old. Schroeder estimated the pumps had been installed within the last five years. The cost for the Bissen Street repair is estimated at $9,718.  The council chose to wait and investigate whether these pumps were still under warranty.

An easement on East Grant Street near the lift station was granted to Dean Foltz to allow for improvements on his property.  Schoonover said the easement will only been needed if Foltz decides to build a structure on his property.  The council agreed by consensus to allow an easement if Foltz choose to build on his property.

A public hearing was held to discuss a proposed construction project on Wade and Melissa Cordes property at 924 Meadow View Court. The Cordes asked for a 940-square-foot attached garage to their 2,300 square foot home. The proposal requires a 10-foot setback variance from the  property line.

No objections were heard during the hearing, and the council approved the request. The council also emphasized that this variance worked out due to the house being situated on a cul-de-sac. They said future variance requests need to be approved on a case-by-case basis.


Verizon lease

During the April 8 city council meeting an amendment to Verizon’s Site Lease Agreement with the city was submitted.  The amendment is intended to clarify the language regarding antennas on the northwest water tower. A conference call was made during the council meeting to Verizon representatives.

City Attorney Tim Murphy, after reviewing the document, found no problem with the wording. The council approved the agreement.



• The council approved the purchase of a copier for the library.

• The fire department’s recommendation to hire Dylan Besse and Bill Gavin as firefighters was approved and brings the department’s number to a total of 31.

• A request to have liquor store manger Patty Gavin attend the Municipal Beverage Association Annual Conference was tabled after council members said they were uncertain if attendance justified the cost.