The Canton City Council discussed ways to publicize its search for a new city clerk at last Wednesday’s meeting. The council also discussed ways in which to make the position more attractive by adding hours and noting benefits that could be offered.
After the resignation of its former clerk Brock Bergey, in late August, the city posted a job ad in a local newspaper, but has not received any applications.
The council discussed the wording of the advertisement and how to make the job more attractive. Bergey had worked 24 hours a week, but the council discussed increasing that to 32 hours a week and making the position eligible for certain benefits, such as paid time off and providing a health insurance stipend.
In addition to running the advertisement in the paper for another two weeks, the council opted to post it on social media and the city web page. Deputy Clerk Barb Kerns will also talk to their web designer to ask how it can be further promoted on the internet.
It was also suggested that potential candidates be told that training is available and accommodations will be made for the right person in regards to past experience and education.
“We have an open position that we need to fill and we have to do our level best to fill it,” said Councilman Carl Ernst.
During this time, city operations are being overseen by Mayor Cindy Shanks and Deputy Clerk Kerns, with help and guidance from other council members.
Joint meeting with school
Kristy Ziegler and Ernst reported on the meeting they attended between Mabel-Canton Schools, the city of Mabel and the city of Canton. The joint meeting was held on September 22, and both felt it was an interesting meeting.
Ziegler explained the school board presented information on Redefining Ready – a national campaign to introduce a new multi-metric, research-based approach to determine what it means for students “to be college ready, career ready and life ready.” Basically, it’s a way to evaluate students beyond standardized test scores, Ziegler said.
Part of the initiative is promoting community service and the school board asked that the Mabel and Canton communities help find ways that students can meet these community service requirements.
“That was a good discussion,” Ernst added. “We’ve already talked about how we can help our elderly residents at their residences and Mabel-Canton seemed to think that was a good plan. They are possibly going to include that into their program. I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes forward.”
Those attending were also treated to a tour of the school to see improvements that have been made in the last few years, including a new secure entry, new gym floor, a remodeled science room, new restrooms and windows, HVAC and electrical upgrades and new phone and public address system. Ziegler also said the school district has plans to do more updates as well.
Planning commission report
The council approved several building permit applications, including new garages for the Devry Kerns and Jamie Knutson properties and a deck on the Roman Yoder property. All applications met proper setbacks and requirements.
An additional item of note was that Robroy Kelly has constructed a deck on his property without a permit. This comes with a $400 penalty and Kelly will need to fill out a property permit application. A letter will be mailed to Kelly outlining his violations, which will also be reviewed by the city attorney.
When reviewing the building permit form, Ziegler inquired as to whether the city could ask if the resident applying for the permit has any outstanding taxes. “The increased value (from a project) will lead to additional taxes,” she reasoned. “If that person cannot pay the current taxes would they be able to pay additional taxes created by an increase of value?”
Ernst interjected that he didn’t feel the system “worked that way,” and that he did not feel the city could deny any property improvements due to tax debt.
No further discussion took place on the matter.
Public works report
Jon Nordsving, public works director, explained that the city’s new loader has a smaller bucket than the previous machine, which makes it hard for staff to stand in the bucket to do certain tasks. He explained that a cage could be constructed and added to the loader, which would cost about $500. The city approved the purchase.
Nordsving also told the council that the plow truck needs a bit of work, mainly replacement of the defrost feature for the heating system. While it is in for repairs, other items will be checked as the plowing season quickly approaches.
As Nordsving concluded his report, Ernst complimented him and co-worker Jim Davis on the work they did on the bus garage, saying it looks very nice.
Nuisance Property update
Deputy Clerk Kerns shared an update of the current ordinance violation cases. She said everyone has paid the assessed $50 fine except two residents.
The first, Wayne Hall, had a court hearing on Wednesday and notified the city he would have the property cleaned up by Monday, but would still need to pay the $50 fine.
The second, Mark Stutzman, was also set to have a court hearing on Wednesday, but did not appear at court.
As a point of information, Kerns told the council the fees being charged those who are in violation of the ordinances are not covering the costs of issuing violations and going to court. In some cases the shortfall is as little as $8, but can be up to $30 or $40, depending on the time it takes to deal with the case. No further discussion was held.
Kerns told the council that the application for the Arlin Falck Foundation was submitted. The application was for about $20,000 for a park shelter and for a roof for the bus shed. The city should know by the next council meeting if its request had been granted.
The council approved a temporary liquor license application for the Canton Community Association (CCA) for the Halloween Costume Contest and Dance planned at the town hall on October 29.
Cody Lueck was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Canton Fire Department.
The council approved expenditures for repairs at the Mitson House Museum.
A street closure on West Canton Avenue was approved for the CCA trunk-or-treat event on October 31 from 4-6 p.m.
The council approved a street closure for Main Street and Veteran’s Drive for December 10, from 5 to 7 p.m., for the lighted parade and Santa Day events.
East Canton Avenue will be closed on October 22 for a side-by-side run and food service, hosted by Scott Fairchild. The fundraiser will benefit children’s hospitals and healthcare organizations.
Shanks told the council that city staff had contacted all the candidates running for office this November and asked them to submit a profile and statement regarding their candidacy to post on social media. This is an effort to make sure all residents are informed about who is running for local offices this year.
The council approved a pay raise for city council members and the mayor. The mayor will now receive an annual stipend of $1,100 and council members will receive $800.
Finally, Shanks asked the council members to take a tour of city buildings and make a list of things that need to be done. She encouraged them to do so before the next meeting so a list can be created for potential grant projects or long-term planning.
The next council meeting will be held Wednesday, November 9, at 6 p.m. A special city council meeting was set for Monday, November 14, at 6 p.m. to canvass election results.