The September 7 Rushford Village Council meeting was largely discussions related to the upcoming budget/levy and Public Works and/or road topics. Treasurer Judy Graham sat in for City Clerk Mary Miner as meeting clerk.
The Village staff is working to determine the 2022 budget and the final budget is expected at the September 21 meeting. At that time, the council will use the budget predictions to also set the preliminary tax levy, which must be certified to the county in December.
“Is there anything in particular that we should look into here?” asked Graham. “Even $5,000 or $10,000 adds up in a hurry.” When questioned about whether the city was operating at a comparable level to last year, Graham indicated it was, but expenses, while covered by various funds and investments, were higher.
Public Works’ employee wages, including the recent bump from part-time to full-time for Supervisor Treten Chiglo, were included in the budget, listed on several line items. “It’s in several areas, but not entirely because we haven’t been able to figure out where to put the dollars,” added Graham.
“We know what we paid them, but not what categories it’s all coming from,” clarified Mayor Dennis Overland. Their time is essentially divided out by where the work is, such as sewer, roads, and other categories.
Councilor Mike Ebner asked whether or not there were any pressing issues for roads and bridges. Graham noted the city would be putting another $25,000 aside in a CD, bringing the balance of the fund to $75,000 next year. There is one bridge that the city was notified about previously that will be needing a hard look. The county gave a five-year window on addressing the bridge deficiencies.
The council did approve a crack sealing proposal, one of two it received, from Fahrner Asphalt Sealers, LLC, in the amount of $20,900. The work was recommended by City Engineer Derek Olinger, of Bolton & Menk, and fits within the city’s Pavement Management Plan. While the funds for the project are already in place, the council discussed additional road-related items that may need room in the budget.
Councilor Roger Knutson suggested that chipsealing the following year, as is typically recommended, should be considered. Graham suggested that if crack sealing is done, perhaps the Village wants to consider crack sealing the parking lot and driveway around the Village Hall, also noting that the concrete pad is settling some.
“It’s a pipe dream, but if we do have to do work on the parking lot, we should consider extending the parking lot and re-blacktopping at some point,” said Ebner. The council seemed to largely agree, with several noting it would make it safer for pedestrians to and from the building and easier for snow plowing.
“Whatever happened to getting water out to the shed for a wash bay?” asked Knutson. “Winter will be here before we know it and the new truck should be here this winter.” It was determined that there is a catch basin out at the shed for water collection.
“I don’t know how it drains. It’s something we need to take a hard look at it,” responded Ebner. “We just need to know. There’s stipulations on what you can and can’t do.” Because of guidelines related to possible oil and other materials, it was noted the Village would need to be a tank or separator. There’s currently nothing in the city ordinances to give guidance on it, so the Village would need to consult the county. Graham indicated there’s $100,000 set aside for building needs.
“Honestly, putting an addition on might be the way to go,” said Overland.
“We might need to put a wash bay on, so we could do it all at one time instead of piecing it together and extend it off the east end of the building. From what I understand, that’s where the holding tank is for that building.
“Depending on what we find out for costs, it might be better to bite the bullet and do that,” added Overland.
“It’ll go a long way in keeping that new truck rust free,” said Knutson.
“Not just that but the road grader and other equipment. I think we should see what we’re getting into instead of piecemealing it together,” concluded Ebner.
Another suggestion came from Councilor Bob Hart, who noted the sewage collection fees were running over. He suggested the budget be bumped up so the city can break even. According to Graham, residents pay $35/gallon, plus $7 for upgrades and the City of Rushford charges the Village $31/gallon for use of their system. The upgrade loan, shared by the two cities with Rushford Village paying 9.34% of it, equates to a payment of $7,600/year. Hart suggested if the Village has the money, it should consider paying off its portion of the loan to save interest fees.
Graham noted she was planning on asking for a printed record of the loan each month. The Village had checked with the state on paying off its portion of the loan, but was discouraged from doing so because the City of Rushford isn’t able to pay off its portion of the loan.
“We pay interest because someone else can’t pay their loan back?” asked Hart.
Graham noted that the Village does have $96,000 set aside in CDs. “It’s negative $5,638. At the beginning of the year it was $10,000 plus. It’s working its way through.” She asked Knutson, who works for the City of Rushford as Public Works Director, whether or not more sewer upgrades would be coming. He noted there would be needed upgrades to the headworks building and other items, but thought they’d be on the back burner to allow for other projects for a few years.
All items discussed will be considered when finalizing the budget for the next meeting.
In other news, three dates of special notice were discussed. First, Saturday, September 11 the Village will host a fall clean-up from 8 a.m. until noon at the Village Hall maintenance shed. All members of the council will be assisting. Secondly, Tuesday, November 2 the R-P School District will hold a special election, to fill the school board, at the Village Hall. Because of this event, the council will not hold their scheduled meeting that night. Lastly, the Truth in Taxation hearing will be held December 7, at 7:30 p.m., also at the hall.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is September 21 at 7 p.m. It is open to the public.