July 14, 2008
Ms. Lynda Rickoff of the auditing firm of Russell and Associates presented a summary of the audit report for the year ended December 31, 2007. Her staff did not report any significant findings or problems with the audit. She discussed the amount of the General Fund Un-Reserved Fund Balance, which finished the year at $390,627 or an increase of approximately $274,000 from December 31, 2006. This audited balance equates to about 2.5 months worth of expenditures, or 22% of the 2007 expenditures. The League of Minnesota Cities recommends this percent should be closer to 45%, so even with the increase from 2006 the Cityís fund balance is still low. She pointed out 2007 was the first year in a while both the Water and Sewer funds finished in the black. Management Advisory Comments centered on internal control, but it is understood that with limited resources there can only be so much internal control.
July 2008 claims totaled $278,741.27 for the following operating funds:
General Fund $121,724.31
Revolving Projects Fund 76,430.43
Water Service Fund 66,348.76
Sewer Service Fund 14,237.77
Art Bohlson, 3790 7th Street, asked the Council for help concerning a lot-line issue between him and his neighbor. The neighbor has dug a ditch along the property line for the purpose of water runoff, or re-direction of water. Mr. Bohlsonís question is does the Cityís fence ordinance cover below ground, as well as above. He also indicated he has had the property stakes verified by a surveying company. The Mayor suggested the City consult with legal counsel.
The water treatment plant project is a little bit behind schedule due to various issues including getting the gas turned off at the 5th Street site, and the weather. Councilmember Brinkman and Mr. Volkart will work together on creating a database of fire hydrants throughout the City, and attaching a residence to each hydrant. Mayor Weimerskirch reminded the Council July 15 is the deadline to file for re-election.
The Connaughty-Gunderson and Saehler-Anderson sub-divisions project is behind schedule, thus will probably not actually start construction until early September. The City is contemplating sending a letter out to the homeowners to survey their absolute need for receiving services this year. According to Greg Volkart, the site of the first lift-station has been determined. It will be located in the area of the Welcome to Goodview sign on Maurl Drive. The City has submitted a bid to purchase a house in the Gunderson sub-division to help act as a site for the other lift-station, but has not heard a response yet. Mayor Weimerskirch said it is incumbent on the City to deliver the services, and he will personally contact the City Engineer to stress to him the importance of the project being completed as quickly as possible. The City Administrator gave an update on the status of the funding for the project. According to the Washington D.C. offices of the federal legislators, no earmarks were included in the first draft of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, but they continue to work for it. All three indicated the Cityís project is at the top of their list for funding. The City hopes to hear by the end of the month from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority on a potential loan for the project.
Aaron Sackreiter was hired to replace Brandon Czaplewski as the Maintenance Laborer I position.
The Council reviewed the letter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) concerning the increase in the Water Appropriation fees. The City currently is at the 100 to 150 million gallons level, and will stay at this level even with the new annexed areas coming onto the system in the near future.
The Council had discussion on the topic of how the City charges for water and sewer during the high watering summer months. The City has received approximately five complaints on this subject, which is about normal for a year. The Director of Public Works pointed out these people would like to see the City install deduct meters so they wouldnít get charged for sewer when watering. He stressed this would cost the City for extra meters, bookkeeping, and would open the door for potential theft of City water. He indicated deduct meters were once used in the City of Winona, but they have since gone away from them. Councilmember Andring asked about sandpoints, which Mr. Matejka said the County does allow them but there are certain requirements that have to be met. Councilmember Bowman moved and Councilmember Andring seconded to continue with the current policy/procedure concerning the charging of sewer rates based on water consumption, and not to provide deduct meters. All voted aye, motion carried.
Councilmember Ledebuhr moved and Councilmember Andring seconded to appoint Councilmembers Bowman and Brinkman to the Joint Airport Zoning Board for another two-year term commencing on July 1, 2008. All voted aye, except Mayor Weimerskirch who voted nay. Motion carried four to one.
An exemption from lawful gambling license for Winona Area Youth Wrestling Club for August 16 was approved.
Mr. Doug Hinrichs, Treasurer of the Goodview Firefighters Relief Association, presented Schedules 1 & 2 of the associationís audit report. He noted no City contribution is due in 2009 based on the calculations in the report. However, he did ask the Council to consider making a voluntary contribution to the fund, something the City hasnít done since 2001. The Mayor stressed the City would like to make a voluntary contribution when it is economically feasible for the City, and the funds are available to be allotted to the Relief fund. Councilmember Andring moved and Councilmember Bowman seconded to accept the schedules as presented. All voted aye, motion carried.
Councilmember Bowman moved and Councilmember Andring seconded to approve the proposal submitted by the engineering firm of Yaggy Colby Associates. This proposal is to conduct engineering services on the two projects included in the MN DNR grant. All voted aye, motion carried.
Under the Other category of the agenda, The City Administrator asked the Council for some parameters they would like to see concerning the amount of the tax levy for the 2009 budget. Mayor Weimerskirch expressed, and the rest of the Council agreed, the City should try to keep the tax levy rate the same, or lower, from the 2008 level. He went on to say the City should continue to follow a conservative approach to budgeting. Councilmember Bowman voiced his concern over the potential stigma the flood of August, 2007 will have on market values. The Council reiterated they would like to see a proposed budget based on needs not wants. Also they still want to see a one, five, and ten year Capital Improvement plan, which possibly could include a rotation of replacing City vehicles. The City Administrator indicated he has the directive requested, and will try to present a first draft of the 2009 budget to the Council at the August 4th meeting.