The August 8 Harmony City Council meeting opened with a public forum at which resident Sharon Kiehne spoke. She asked if there was money set aside in the budget for routine road maintenance, such as filling potholes. Upon being assured that there was, she asked why the city isn’t fixing all of them. She stated that there were so many potholes on her street that it was impossible to avoid them. After making a complaint to the city, one was filled but not the rest, so her husband purchased asphalt and filled the others himself. She also stated that she had noticed many potholes all over town that need to be filled. “I’m asking that they do a little bit better job with potholes,” she said. Mayor Steve Donney agreed that they need to be filled. Kiehne also noted that when streets are dug up for utility work, they often form dips one to two years after being repaired, which generally occurs from a lack of tamping the sand before adding the top layer. “If the city is paying people to do that, who’s making sure they do it right?” she asked.
City Clerk Samantha Grabau updated the council on the tree order. Around 40 trees were ordered. However, the drought may delay delivery as they might need to be planted in the fall instead. The DNR recently issued a drought warning to the City of Harmony. In response, the splash pad hours have been reduced. A notice was put on Facebook and the city website asking residents to implement conservation measures by reducing lawn watering to once a week, turning off automatic lawn irrigation systems, washing only full loads of laundry with cold water, and taking shorter showers. “They’re asking us to do every effort possible to conserve water,” Grabau commented. Mayor Donney asked if a sign had been put up at the splash pad to let people know why it’s not running. A sign had been installed with the new hours, but without a clarifying reason. Grabau will make sure the sign is updated.
City Engineer Brett Grabau presented a request for a feasibility study on the areas of proposed improvements for 2024, which include portions of Fourth Street, Snake Alley, and other alley improvements. A motion to move forward with the study was approved. Grabau will share the results at the next council meeting, at which time a public hearing will be scheduled.
Five percent of the project costs for the splash pad were originally retained, but since everything at the splash pad is working well with no issues, Brett Grabau recommended paying the final amount to Generation X, which the council approved.
A quote from Maguire Iron was approved in the amount of $88,800.00 for work on the water tower.
Harmony Chamber board member Erica Thilges asked the council to consider increasing the Chamber’s budget by $22,000 in 2024. She reviewed the various ways that the Chamber and the Chamber Director benefit the City of Harmony and its residents. “The Chamber provides an incalculable value to our community, taking on more duties than typically fall under a chamber umbrella,” she stated. “We do not want to lose momentum on our progress.” Without a boost in funding, the Chamber will need to make major cuts to its programming and will not be able to sustain a full-time director. Thilges noted that a part-time position in the Chamber had already been eliminated. No action was taken by the council as the request was only for consideration at that time. A formal request will be presented at next month’s meeting.
The handicap automatic door opener at the main entrance of the community center is not strong enough to open the door properly. The council approved a motion to install a new door opener and move the existing one to the library entrance door.
A request was received from LaPointe Utilities to bury fiber internet for MediaCom in the city’s utility right of way from Fillmore Central High School to Kwik Trip, a distance of approximately ½ mile. MediaCom has a corporate franchise agreement with Kwik Trip, necessitating the fiber installation. Council member Kyle Scheevel asked if the council should and could limit the number of companies who are allowed to bore in Harmony. City Attorney Greg Schieber said that each request has to meet criteria outlined in the city ordinance to be granted a permit. The request was approved.
The Personnel committee conducted City Clerk Grabau’s six-month review. They recommended taking her off of probation and increasing her salary accordingly. “She’s done an exemplary job,” Mayor Donney noted. The changes were approved by the council with Jesse Grabau abstaining.
The EDA reviewed its proposed 2024 budget as well as the potential for three new projects to be undertaken next year. The projects included renovations and repairs to the “Welcome to Harmony” signs, a plan to build funds for needed infrastructure or other major business development project needs, and a new city website. The budget was tabled until the city council makes a decision about the request for increased Chamber funds.
Some of the hoses at the fire department will need to be replaced soon. New pagers were recently ordered and have arrived.
Council member Domingo Kingsley mentioned that he had received some requests from residents about installing Watch for Children signs in their neighborhood. The city doesn’t have any on hand so will need to order them. In the meantime, it was recommended that some portable signs be put up if anyone had some available.
The next Harmony City Council meeting will be held on September 12 at 7 p.m.