The city with heart

October 13, 2010 council meeting minutes


Regular Meeting

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 7:00 PM

Danube City Council Chambers



A regular meeting of the Danube City Council was conducted on October 13, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. with Mayor Gene Allex presiding.  Council Members Sharon Lothert, Ryan Bentley, Bob Simpson and Al Strunc were present.  Chief of Police Les Schneider, City Clerk-Treasurer Sara Wilson, Xcel Energy Manager of Community and Local Government Relations Karen Young, MMUA Associate Executive Director Steve Downer, Climate Air representative Rick Peyton, Great Plains Energy Conservation Specialist Jeremy Fischer, and media were also present. 


Approval of Agenda


Council Member Lothert moved and Council Member Bentley seconded a motion to approve the Agenda, with the addition of “Lonny Davis wage,””Climate Air,” and “Santa’s Closet”under “School” and “Interim Financial Report” and “Bill from TJ’s Auto” under “Approve Bills.”  The motion carried unanimously


Approval of Minutes


Council Member Strunc moved and Council Member Bentley seconded a motion to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of September 22, 2010 as submitted, with one addition.  The motion carried unanimously. 


MMUA Associate Executive Director Steve Downer


Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association (MMUA) Associate Executive Director Steve Downer was present to speak with the council about municipal electric utilities.  The MMUA is funded in part by member dues and 75% of its funding comes from fees for services such as OSHA compliance and safety training. 


Downer reported that there are 125 Municipal Electric Utilities in Minnesota and 20% of those are in cities with 500 or fewer customers.  Downer stated that generally municipal utilities are more efficient and more reliable than the privately owned utilities because they have local employment and response.  Municipal utilities are funded by their own revenues, not by taxpayer money.  The biggest expense in running a municipal utility is the purchased power, however, more money stays the community.  The most recent municipal utility established was in the City of Henning in 1969. 


Downer said that speaking with Xcel Energy would be the place to start if the City is interested in pursuing the purchase of the electric utility in Danube.  There would have to be a citizens committee formed because the City cannot advocate for the utility.  The MMUA would help with information for a Public Meeting. 


Xcel Energy Manger of Community & Local Government Relations Karen Young


Karen Young, Manager of Community and Local Government Relations at Xcel Energy, attended the meeting to answer questions and address concerns that the council has.  Young said that Xcel Energy is concerned about Danube, values serving the City, and would be opposed to and not support the City in starting its own municipal utility. 


Young went on to say that the upfront costs in starting a municipal utility are high and would include legal work, consulting fees, the purchase price, insurance, and loss of property tax.  She told the council that the City could charge a franchise fee through Xcel Energy, to the customers, to help generate some income for the City.  Young also said that the financial risk is high as well as the complexity of starting a municipal utility. 


Young advised the council that Xcel Energy hired a new designer for the area.  His name is Chris Bunker.  Arnie Smiens is the current person in charge of design for Danube. 


The council voiced their concerns over the time it takes for Xcel Energy to get street light bulbs changed in town and their feeling of not being a priority to Xcel Energy.  A very high concern was Xcel Energy’s lack of capability to service the new elevator site on the east edge of Danube.  Young stated that servicing the elevator through Renville-Sibley Coop Power was more cost effective than upgrading Danube’s sub-station.  Councilmember Simpson asked what happens if the City doesn’t sign the franchise agreement with Xcel Energy.  Young said nothing would happen.  Simpson asked what the point of a franchise agreement is.  Young stated that it clarifies relocation in case their equipment is in the way of City equipment, it clarifies that Xcel has the right to trim trees, and it states that if someone gets hurt on or by Xcel’s equipment, the City is not responsible.  All of these items are also spelled out in Minnesota Statutes.  The franchise agreement is intended to clarify what is already in the Statutes.  Young stressed that Xcel Energy needs to know when we have complaints. 


Climate Air – Rick Peyton & Great Plains Natural Gas – Jeremy Fischer


Rick Peyton from Climate Air was present to tell about an energy saver control system for boilers over 50 HP.  The system is called a Linkage Less System.  The system is designed to save a minimum of 3% on energy costs.  It would cost approximately $9,600 and there is a $2,500 rebate available from Great Plains Natural Gas.  Payback would be 9 years or less before considering the rebate.  Any new boiler that is sold today has this application built into it.  Peyton will get boiler details together and write a proposal and email it to Councilmember Simpson and Clerk Wilson.    


2nd Street East Project


No updates were available



Sidewalk Replacement


The sidewalk replacement on a portion of the 300 block the west side of Main Street has not taken place yet, but is in the works.  The item can be removed from the agenda.


Xcel Energy Contract


Council Member Strunc asked if anyone else on the council was interested in pursuing a municipal electric utility.  Council Members Simpson and Bentley were concerned about the cost.  Strunc wondered if it would be worthwhile to spend $5,000-$10,000 to contact a consulting engineer to find out if it’s a feasible idea.  It was decided to keep the idea on the agenda, review the information received and discuss it at the next council meeting. 


School Building Updates


Mayor Allex spoke to Lonny Davis about overseeing the operation of the boilers at the school for another year.  Davis agreed to reimbursement of $350 per month while the boilers are being operated. 


Council Member Simpson moved and Council Member Strunc seconded a motion to pay Lonny Davis $350 per month to oversee the boiler operations at the school for the 2010-2011 heating season.  The motion passed unanimously.


Santa’s Closet asked Council Member Lothert if they could move the shelves in the library of the school building downstairs to their area.  The council did not approve of this.  If they would like to move upstairs into the library area, they are welcome to do that. 


The dumpster behind the school still has not been dumped by West Central Sanitation.  Clerk Wilson says she has contacted West Central Sanitation three times to dump it.  She will check with them again after verifying with Tri-Valley that it has not been dumped. 


The DAAC reserved the school gym for a Halloween Dance for the 5th – 8th graders on October 29.


The new roof on the school leaked during the heavy rains.  Clerk Wilson called Marty’s Roofing to come check it.  They have not been here yet, as far as anyone knows.


Approve Bills


Council Member Strunc moved and Council Member Lothert seconded a motion to approve the bills in the amount of $19,227.11.  The motion passed unanimously.


Council Member Strunc had a couple questions on the interim financial report and Clerk Wilson answered the questions.  Council Member Strunc also inquired about paying TJ’s Auto for the electricity for the City siren that is on his building.  Clerk Wilson said she paid Jim Mason (previous owner) $60 in March.  That was for the previous year.  Strunc felt TJ’s Auto should be paid $120 and that will cover the year from the day he purchased the building. 


Council Member Strunc moved and Council Member Bentley seconded a motion to pay TJ’s Auto $120 per year for electricity for the City siren, starting with the date of purchase.  The motion passed unanimously.


Chief of Police Les Schneider Monthly Employee Report


Chief of Police Les Schneider was present to give his monthly employee report and Danube Police Department activity report for September 2010.  The police department statistics for September were:  61 calls, 30 reports, 53 traffic stops, 18 citations, 32 mutual assists and 7 home security checks.  


Officer Krueger attended Rifle training and should be able to qualify Chief Schneider and Officer Hotovec by the end of the month.  Officer Krueger also will be attending a Towards Zero Deaths Conference as part of his Safe and Sober participation.  The Renville County Expo went well and the gym floor remained protected and unscratched.


Xcel Energy has been notified of four street light outages and the lights still remain unrepaired.  Chief Schneider and Officer Hotovec attended Use of Force training October 12.  First Response held 44 training last month. 


Request for Proposal (RFP) for City Auditor


As per requested by the City Council, Clerk Wilson prepared an RFP for City Auditor for the audit for the year ending December 31, 2010, with the option of adding the following two years.  Clerk Wilson asked permission to post the RFP on the League of MN Cities Marketplace and also on the City of Danube’s website.  The council liked that idea.


Transfer of City Funds


Council Member Strunc moved and Council Member Lothert seconded a motion to transfer $20,000 from the City’s savings account to checking, at the Clerk’s request, in order to pay bills.  The motion passed unanimously.




There being no further business before the council, Council Member Bentley moved and Council Member Lothert seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting.  With all members voting in favor, the meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.




Respectfully submitted:  Sara Wilson, City Clerk

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