Goessel council reviews utility rates

The Goessel City Council heard at its Nov. 18 meeting from auditor Steve Connelly that ?the city is managing the money in a positive way.?

Instead of coming to the meeting in person, Connelly and the council connected via telephone. Prior to the meeting, he sent graphs and charts that helped to explain his findings.

Connelly had prepared a chart comparing the city?s mill levy and assessed valuation from the years 2008 through 2013. The chart clearly showed the mill levy responds to the assessed valuation; when the assessed valuation rises, the mill levy falls. Likewise, when the assessed valuation falls, the mill levy rises.

The chart of expenditures showed that the general fund and the water fund together accounted for nearly half of the budget, with the general fund accounting for 30 percent and the water fund 19 percent.

The other expenditures included sewer, trash, special highway, library and payroll funds.

Connelly?s water fund analysis chart showed that water expenditures have been greater than water receipts through the years.

Following the audit report, the council spent considerable time discussing water rates; the city is not taking in enough water revenue to pay the water expenses.

The council acknowledged that higher water rates are necessary in order to pay the water expenses, but they were reluctant to raise the rates.

The council also noted that some water lines are old and need to be replaced, and some water meters need to be replaced. In addition, the city will be paying for the water tower for 10 more years.

The council also discussed water wells.

?These wells have been in the same place for a long time,? Mayor Dave Schrag said.

Councilor Jim Wiens said that all three wells have sometimes been running at the same time. The council discussed various locations for drilling a new well.

Court Clerk Paula Flaming said the cost for a test well was $21 a foot a few years ago.

The council also discussed sewer rates, emphasizing the need to fix some manholes and breaks in the sewer line. Considering the rising operation costs, the council determined the city would need a 3 percent increase in the sewer rate just to ?break even,? although that amount would not allow for all of the necessary repairs.

No decisions were made regarding water and sewer rates at this meeting.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? delayed setting a time for Santa Claus to greet children at the city building. Flaming said the event has been ?very well-attended? in the past. The date and time will be announced later.

? discussed winterizing water meters. The public should note that the city owns the meter, but it is the responsibility of the home-owners to see that their meter does not freeze.

Some meters have frozen in the past. Cindy Gaddis, public works assistant, said, ?It?s a good idea to insulate them.?

Home-owners can purchase a round Styrofoam insulator from the city office for $10. Goertzen said home-owners should be careful when installing any type of meter insulation because the meters can be damaged.

? heard that city police had issued three verbal warnings for speeding, one warning for a stop-sign violation and one warning for failure to yield to an emergency vehicle. Police had made one personal contact during the past month.

? heard that police officers had attended an infrastructure protection class.

? heard that Gaddis is working toward certification as a public works employee. She said it will take two years to become certified in all aspects, acknowledging ?there is a lot? to learn.

? discussed recycling. Councilor Larry Schmidt said he had found Styrofoam and other unacceptable items in the recycling bins.

Schrag reported, ?We?re averaging four days? for filling a recycling bin.

? heard that liability insurance for skate park equipment would cost $350 a year, although the cost could vary, depending on specifications of the ramp.

The city park currently does not have skate board equipment. The council indicated a desire to move forward with purchasing the equipment.

? discussed the dilapidated house that has been condemned. A resolution has been published in the newspaper. The owner has until Dec. 1 to tear down the uninhabitable house or repair it. After that time, the city will raze the house and make the property safe.

The council acknowledged that this had been an ongoing situation, and action needs to be taken. The city?s demolition bill will be paid by attaching a lien to the property.

? discussed recycling and cleaning at the park and baseball diamonds during a special meeting Oct. 26.

? discussed at the special meeting a place for school buses to turn around at the intersection of Main and Church streets.

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