The city with heart

January 27, 2010 city council minutes



Mayor Gene Allex called the regular meeting of the Danube City Council to order at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 13, 2010.  Councilmembers present:  Sharon Lothert, Al Strunc, Ryan Bentley, and Bob Simpson.  Absent: None


Also present:  Dan Kaufenberg, Public Works Director


A motion was made by Al Strunc to approve the agenda with the following additions under New Business:  Dan Wersal of the Danube Fire Department, Charge Accounts, and TJ Auto.  Sharon Lothert seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


A motion was made by Strunc to approve the minutes of the January 13, 2010 regular council meeting as submitted by the City Clerk.  Lothert seconded and the motion carried unanimously.


Danube Public Works Director, Dan Kaufenberg, was present to give his monthly employee report.    After the sewer back up occurred in town, Dan looked back in the City’s records and found that sewer lines have not been inspected or jetted since 2000.  Dan brought the report in from the last inspection and recommended that the lines be inspected again and then on a regular basis thereafter, possibly doing 1/3 of the City sewer lines each year (for example).  Strunc asked if there was a way to determine where the grease in the lines is coming from and wants Dan to check into finding out.  Strunc also stated that there should be a program for inspecting the storm sewer as well. 


Kaufenberg also mentioned that last year the City council decided not to have the lift station cleaned.  The City should have the pumps calibrated every six months and inspected on an annual basis.  The lift station should be thoroughly cleaned yearly.  Last year Kaufenberg was told by the council to use degreaser in the lines rather than having them cleaned.  J & R Wastewater has done it in the past.  Kaufenberg said he could check with other companies.  Strunc asked if the City is currently in compliance with the MPCA and Kaufenberg said yes, as far as he knows.


Kaufenberg found the last contract stating H & H Contracting was to clean and inspect the water tower every two years.  They came in 2004 and 2006, but didn’t come in 2008.  Kaufenberg called H & H and was told that someone will come in the spring for the 2008 price stated in the contract.


Other issues discussed relating to public works were as follows:

·         Schmoll’s Welding put skids on the snowplow blade

·         Tom Jansen did some work on the grain truck.  There are many items that need to be addressed in order for it to pass inspection.  The snowplow truck should also be looked at.

·         Honeywell went through most of the thermostats at the school building with Dan.  The 3rd floor is now cool.  Honeywell replaced 2 thermostats and gave one extra free one to Dan. 

·         Kaufenberg requested to use comp time and take Friday, January 28 off.


Fire Chief Dan Wersal was present to represent the Danube Fire Department.  Chief Wersal told the council that he has an opportunity to get new air packs for the fire department.  The Sauk Rapids Fire Department has several new and used air packs they aren’t using.  Normally they are $3,400 each, but the department will let them go in an equal trade agreement with the stipulation that the Danube Fire Department provides them with a 5 x 8 enclosed trailer to be used as a decontamination trailer, which will cost just under $2,000.  The Danube Fire Department has money in the Pull Tab Funds that the City holds for them, which can be used to purchase the trailer. 


Les Schneider, Sr. joined the council meeting.  He stated that he was not officially notified, as the insurance agent for the city, of the sewer back up on January 17.  Schneider spoke with the insurance adjuster.  He reiterated that possible claims need to be reported immediately.  Mayor Allex told Schneider and the council that he stopped in the insurance office the day after the back up and told Dalles Schneider of the possible claim.  The clerk told the council that she didn’t know the procedure to follow to report claims, so she contacted the League of Minnesota Cities.  The League in turn contacted the adjuster, who then called the City Office and made arrangements to check on the claim. 


Schneider, Sr. also said he has a concern that the City is discriminating against its employees, because of information he read in the newspaper.  He asked if the employee evaluations were done according to procedure and the point system.  He expressed concern over an employee who did not receive a raise.  He stated that he hoped everyone was evaluated and nobody was left out.  Additionally, he asked if all hourly employees are punching a time clock.  Schneider asked the clerk if everyone has been punching the clock and she said no.  Schneider asked if everyone had a copy of the employee policy and encouraged everyone to read it.  He said that the City needs to take care to follow its own policies.


Schneider brought a picture of the snow piled in front of his creamery property.  He had asked Allex to have Kaufenberg stop putting snow on that property.  Schneider said there’s no way for him to get in the building if he needs to and he doesn’t want snow to be piled there.  Allex asked if Schneider wanted it moved and he said no.   Schneider said the streets are in bad shape because of the thaw and then refreezing.  He said on the day it thawed, the slush should have been plowed off the streets.  Kaufenberg was out of town on that Saturday.


The employee evaluation form was discussed by the council.  Strunc was reminded of the form they used.  Bentley stated he doesn’t see the work of all the employees on a regular basis and therefore doesn’t feel he could accurately evaluate them.  The clerk will make copies of the personnel policy for each councilmember.  The clerk will contact the League and possibly other cities to find out how others address the evaluation issue.


Strunc asked if the time clock was a real issue.  Lothert stated that she doesn’t punch the clock when she goes to clean at the Community Center, but will from now on. 


Allex again told the council that he went to the insurance agency the day after the sewer back up and reported it to Dalles Schneider.  The clerk told the council the action she took after she found out about the sewer back up.  Lothert suggested always contacting the League and the insurance agent in a case of a possible claim.  Bentley said to always contact the agent if there is a possibility of a claim.  Strunc said it appears the City has been negligent on cleaning and maintaining the sewer system and therefore liable for the sewer back up. 


Lothert stated that the EDA apartments have had some sewer problems.  She reported those to the insurance agent. 

 Strunc asked if the minutes needed to be sent to the newspaper before the council approved them.  The clerk responded that if the paper asks for them, she has to provide them with the notation that they are a draft copy. 


Bentley asked who should be called when Kaufenberg is out of town and the streets need to be plowed.  Don Lothert was suggested.   Jim Mason has offered in the past for $20 per hour, but the council already approved only $15 per hour.  Bob Simpson wanted to know names and numbers of the same people Bentley would call.  Strunc mentioned that he saw that Kaufenberg had sanded the streets.


Allex asked if the clerk gave Simpson a list of the telephone numbers for all of the council.  She had not, but will get one for the next meeting and give the council an updated list.   Lothert said she will put the appointments in the newsletter with who to contact in case of issues in various departments.


The council reviewed a letter updating them on the Mahoney lawsuit and also brought Simpson up to date on the case.


There was no update on the playground equipment, 2nd Street East or the zoning issue.  Allex said he’d help out with the zoning issue. 


The council reviewed the upcoming rental schedule for the Community Center and former school building.  The Danube Historical Society and the Danube Fire Department will both be holding their annual meetings.  The school continues to be busy with various athletic events.


Strunc asked why the City has to pay on the unemployment charges for the former Community Center custodian.  The clerk said she’d get a copy of the letter from the State of MN that states why we have to pay.  Strunc also asked about the bill for Officer Krueger to attend firearms training.  Bentley asked what the bill from Farmer’s Coop Oil was for.  The clerk told him it was for gas for all the various city vehicles.


A motion was made by Lothert to approve the bills as submitted in the amount of $15,854.30.  Bentley seconded and the motion carried unanimously. 


Bentley asked about the list of tasks the clerk gave to the council to alert them as to why she had to postpone the audit for two weeks.  He asked if there were deadlines and she replied yes.  Bentley reminded her that last year the council said that if she needed extra time during this part of the year, that it was fine to work extra.


The council received a copy of the letter that the City Attorney sent to Jerry Hinrichs who is the owner of the property located at 303 4th Street in Danube.  The letter requested that Hinrichs sign a Quit Claim Deed so the City can attempt to sell the lot.  No response has been received from Hinrichs. 


The council also received a letter from Aaron Walton, City Attorney, welcoming the opportunity to work with the City of Danube during the year 2010.  His rates would remain the same at $125 per hour for civil matters and $115 per hour for criminal matters.  Legal Secretary Fees for both civil and criminal matters would be $25 per hour. 


A motion was made by Lothert to appoint Aaron Walton as 2010 City Attorney at the rates disclosed in his letter and mentioned above.  Bentley seconded and the motion carried unanimously. 


A motion was made by Strunc to spend $2,000 of the Pull Tab money to purchase a trailer to use in exchange for air packs from the Sauk Rapids Fire Department.  Lothert seconded and the motion carried with Allex and Bentley abstaining.


The clerk spoke of Kaufenberg’s request to have a charge account at Runnings and Home Depot since the City no longer has credit card.  The City has a charge account at Menards, but he can’t get everything he needs there.  There was also discussion of having a gas card to purchase gas after hours in the case of moving snow in the middle of the night.  The clerk also suggested getting a new credit card and having the proper people named on the account.  She said some cities have an ordinance in place to let the clerk pay the credit card bill without council approval if the due date is before the next council meeting.  The clerk will contact the League to get their suggestion.


Sharon informed the council that Terry Zieske of TJ Auto asked if he can push his snow into the street and have the City remove it.  Other businesses on Main Street have been allowed to do that.  The clerk stated he had talked to her about it as well.  Zieske purchased Jim Mason’s building and the City’s siren is wired into the electrical panel for that building.  In the past Mason has been paid $60 per year for the electricity for the siren.  Zieske doesn’t think $60 per year is enough money.  Strunc said the siren should just get moved and wired into the City Hall building. 


At 8:50 p.m., there being no further discussion, a motion was made by Lothert to adjourn the meeting.  Simpson seconded and the motion carried unanimously. 




Respectfully submitted:  Sara Wilson, City Clerk

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