The Hokah City Council met for two hours on Tuesday, May 2, at the Hokah Fire Department. Council members present included Mayor Lee Tippery, City Clerk Lindsey Martell, and Cindy Oldenburg, Tom Bernsdorf and Cory Lorenz. Mayor Tippery called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The consent agenda including approval of the April council meeting minutes, bills payable through May 2, and the consolidated balance sheet was approved unanimously.
Library/City Hall/ City Center report
Gina Herman reported that a recent event at the library was well attended with 25 guests. Thirteen more events are scheduled in the coming spring and summer months. She also provided a list of maintenance items needing attention, including door repairs, sidewalk repairs, window repairs, stained ceiling tiles. The art deco main entrance overhead light needs repair. It needs to be removed and replaced with a temporary light fixture while the original light is refurbished.
There was no fire department report but as noted in the minutes of the April meeting, the new truck has been placed in service.
Chief Robert Schuldt reported an average number of incidents at 75. He also has had some complaints regarding traffic on Cedar Street and there may be a need for further study of the situation. There are training requirements that need to be met in the next month or so. He also reports that pet license renewals were due in April and the number of renewals received seem to be lagging. Residents are reminded to renew their pet licenses or warnings and possible citations may be issued.
Chief Schuldt is updating Hokah’s hazmat plan. There is also hazmat training upcoming.
Water/Wastewater /City Engineer report
Clerk Martell reports that the well drillers will be arriving soon to begin that work. She also reviewed the organizational and financial plans. The overall project went to Winona Mechanical as the general vontractor who will then retain various subcontractors for piping, electrical, and other work to complete the $1.29 million project. The public will be notified of a significant water rate increase. For example, a resident paying a base rate of $21 per month will now pay a nearly $41 rate per month. Based on usage, other users will see similar rate increases. Clerk Martell had planned to thoroughly review the project and the anticipated rate increases for the public at the April council meeting. However, no member of the public attended the meeting. Residents will be receiving a letter soon explaining the project and the expected rate increases.
Mayor Tippery again emphasized the need for the project, highlighting the aging pumps and electrical service. He noted that with summer coming on there will be additional demand on the water system what with lawn watering, swimming pools, filled, etc. “We cannot let the water system get worse. If it fails our reservoir has only several days’ capacity, assuming it is full,” said Tippery.
Council members also discussed the need to repair a damaged manhole cover in town. Apparently the riser has been damaged and/or tipped, requiring digging out and repair. The city’s street sweeper machine needs repair. The council approved spending approximately $800 to obtain the needed replacement solenoid for the machine.
The council approved a building permit for Joe Martin for construction of a 16×14-foot shed. The council also noted, however, that there seems to be other construction projects around town that may not have the needed building permits. They will investigate further.
The council approved renewing the Hiawatha Valley Educational District lease. The rate has increased by 6%.
The air conditioning unit in the city-owned building housing The Butcher Shoppe business is leaking refrigerant and cannot meet the cooling demand of the business on warm days. The Maintenance Department is investigating repairs and possibly adding a second cooling unit.
Mr. Ken Ducke, treasurer of the Mount Hope Cemetery Association, made a presentation to the city council and asking for consideration of the City of Hokah to become involved in and support operation of the cemetery. Ken noted that while the cemetery is currently in good financial condition, there is concern over rising costs and the declining number of cemetery trustees. Ken’s presentation included various documents explaining how local governmental agencies can assume management and maintenance of private cemeteries. The city council accepted the documents and will consider the proposal.
Ballpark and City Park restrooms
Tom Bernsdorf reported on the condition of the restrooms at the ballpark and city park. He presented the council with a spreadsheet and plan for total replacement of the ballpark restrooms. With the summer sports season approaching Tom moved and the council approved spending up to $8,500 for a new ballpark restroom. Once that project is complete he recommends then tackling the City Park restroom which needs new toilets, sinks and a new roof.
The council approved an off-sale liquor license for the Free Range restaurant in Hokah.
The council adjourned at 8:10 p.m. The next meeting of the Hokah City Council will be Tuesday, June 6, at 6 p.m. at the Hokah Fire Station.