Goessel council to warn residents to clean up tree debris

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
The Goessel City Council instructed City Clerk Anita Goertzen at its April 21 meeting to send letters to residents and business owners who still have tree debris from the January ice storm.

She is to inform them that they must have the debris cleaned up within 30 days. A fee will be charged if the city has to clean up the branches.

Pete Flaming, representing Bethesda Home, attended the meeting to ask for the city’s endorsement for a tax-credit project.

He said Bethesda would like to construct a “Main Street” area within the home that would offer a “more home-like and neighborhood-type environment.” It would include a post office, bank and store.

The plan also includes offering an extended buffet and enlarging the dining hall, with the possibility of opening it to the public.

Flaming said studies have shown decreased social and
depression tendencies in residents of nursing homes that utilize a Main Street concept. He said the board is hoping for a 2008 completion date.

The city agreed to write a letter in support of tax credits.

Flaming said it is board policy not to begin a project until 80 percent of the funds have been raised. He is looking at a matching grant, but not many grants are available. He said that a contribution of at least $250 is eligible for a 70-percent tax credit.

Superintendent John Fast attended the meeting to discuss school and community matters with the council. He said the press box at the high school is done and invited the public to an open house the evening of the spring barbecue and concert, May 17.

In an effort to streamline the school’s budget because of a possible decline of 16 students for the 2005-06 school year, Fast said the school board is looking at the possibility of moving the sixth grade from the elementary school to the junior high building for the next school year.

The council discussed the utility connection fee. The current ordinance requires a refundable deposit. The council reviewed a list of utility practices from other cities. Those cities charge a non-refundable fee.

The council voted to establish a $40 non-refundable hook-up fee for new connections, but the connection fee will be $15 if someone is moving within the city.

In other business, the council:

— heard Councilor Jim Wiens warn of skunks running loose in town.

— voted to move its meetings to the third Monday of the month. Meetings will still begin at 8 p.m. Currently, the council meets on the third Thursday of each month. The change was made in order to avoid conflicts with school programs.

— heard Police Chief Joe Base report he had worked one accident during the past month, two domestic calls, two arrests, one license restriction violation, ticketed one driver for driving too fast for conditions, and dealt with animal violations.

— heard Base, who also is public works director, report on projects from the past month. The timer on the lift station generator has been replaced. The new computer at the shop has been set up. The pick-up has been serviced. Base plans to replace a culvert. He said Wiens went with him to a water conference.

— heard Base say the compost pile has been moved to the new site. The old burnsite has been cleaned up. He now has all the parts to construct a fence at the new site. The fence will be made of woven wire with two strands of barbed wire at the top.

— heard Base say it cost $1,000 to cut some ditches. The council determined that the city will plant grass seed in the ditches, but it will be the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the ditches.

— awarded J.J. Westhoff Construction from Sutton, Neb., the lagoon construction contract, contingent upon completion of the paperwork. The plan is to begin construction in about two weeks.

— heard from Goertzen that the city will likely receive $10,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because of damage from the January ice storm.

— heard Base say he plans to do some work at the park. There was some discussion of the park’s play equipment. But because of the late hour, the council decided to discuss purchasing new equipment at next month’s meeting.

— listened to Jan Nolde of the Swindoll Janzen Hawk and Loyd accounting firm review the city’s audit report. She suggested developing a policy and procedures manual for new staff and council. She noted that an off-premises storage site for backup documents had been established in 2004 and commended the city for that effort. She reported that the city had no budget violations in 2004. She made suggestions for changes.

— tabled discussion of the Schrag Addition because of time. Base will check into the cost of water and sewer service to the addition.

— discussed past-due water bills. Goertzen said the new ordinance has helped; there are fewer late or unpaid accounts now.

— met in executive session to review personnel. In open session, Wiens moved to give Mayor Peggy Jay the authority to “bring in extra help as needed” for summer work. The council passed the motion.

— authorized Goertzen to purchase two high chairs and two or three booster seats for use in the community room.

— discussed the county’s invitation to join the Neighborhood Revitalization program. Goertzen wondered how valuation assessment would relate to the city’s budget. Wiens asked, “Is there any reason we have to sign on this, or can we have our own?”

Councilor Larry Schmidt agreed, “There are definitely questions we need to have answered.”

The council did not make a decision but will wait for answers from the county.

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