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Harmony Fire Department does well with grant funds

Fri, Mar 14th, 2003
Posted in Features

As representatives from the Harmony Fire Department explained to its city council the proposed expenditures for recently received grants, it was evident the department was sitting in pretty good shape. Bill Hanlon and Steve Donney outlined three grants awarded to the department in the past year. They include a FEMA grant of $80,214 which requires a 10% match from the city; a Department of Justice/State grant for $2,000 toward an equipment trailer; and a DNR grant with a 50-50 match up to $750 to be used for a dry hydrant system.

The FEMA grant will include $50,000 for self-contained breathing equipment that needs to be upgraded and allows for the purchase of additional units. Face masks, turnout gear (26 sets which includes coats and pants) and leather boots are also on the purchase list. Some of the older items are still usable and other smaller communities will be asked if they are interested in them.

The Department of Justice grant was developed through the Terrorism Bill which would allow the fire department to purchase an 8x16 bumper hitch trailer to haul extra structural fire equipment in. The citys share of costs are $1,000.

The DNR grant for a dry hydrant system will allow the department to fill their tanker from a stream 2-3 miles from town, rather than driving to the nearest town. This will cost the city up to $750 in matching funds.

Both firemen pointed out that if the city would find themselves short of funds, charitable gambling proceeds can help make up the difference in order to make use of these grants

The fire department is now applying for a grant that would allow them to purchase a new truck. It would be a tough grant to obtain since they had already received a sizable one last year. There is one 32 year old truck still being used, but the rest of the fleet are 96 and newer. Hanlon told the council that the department had been putting $15,000 a year for three, possibly four years, in an account maintained by the city. He estimated a new truck would run about $160-170,000. The council agreed the fire department should apply for the grant.

Budget cuts

Like everyone else, Harmony has been effected by the governors budget cuts. The current $400,000 local government aid will be cut by $46,000 this year and will see an additional $87,000 deducted from state aid next year. Cities are not allowed to raise levies to fill the void and any debt proposed solution must be voted on by the taxpayers.

"Local government assistance is 5% of the state budget, 10% of the solution and 15% of the governors adjustments", pointed out Jerome Illg, City Administrator. Even worse, is the fact the states budget will grow by another 7%.

The council decided that they could not make decisions on cuts until they had feedback from their individual departments. The departments would be in a better position to know where cuts could be made and result in the least amount of damage.

Council member Gerald Shuck, coming from the "old school" of thought, said "well get by, just do it, were used to doing it". He didnt have much faith in the advice to contact ones legislatures, "pissin' & moanin".

Shuck was the first to point out that the city was paying full time wages for a part-time contracted job to Peoples Service, Inc. for sewer maintenance overseeing. With the individual also working part time for Canton, the bankroll of this contracted person has hit $100,000 per year. The council questioned Chris Johnson, City Maintenance, whether a city employee could get their sewer license. Or, can the city hire someone cheaper and share him or her with another community? This needs to be checked out further.

Another suggestion for saving money circled around the current three deputies hired through the county. Can the city get by with two? Mayor Runkel will talk with Sheriff Jim Connolly and discuss the possibility and whether money can be saved.

Other business

The citys current insurance blanket coverage on structures has been changed. Administrator Illg said each structure must now have a specific dollar amount attached to it. Bringing in an appraiser could cost as much as $4,000. It was decided that Illg should bring in a list of the structures and their current listed value. The board would review the numbers and either cut or raise the amounts as they see fit.

The April council meeting will be changed to the third Tuesday for the month.

A meeting will be set up with Mike Lynch to determine when construction of TH 139 will begin again.

Approved a $75 post prom donation to Fillmore Central.

Approved beer license for Kwik Trip and Harmony House.

Approved purchase of a chlorine regulator for $1,575.20 from Hawkins Water Treatment Group of Mpls for the water treatment plant.

Approved the request of Ben and Kristi Kiehn to install a water line from Greenfield Ag to a building site approximately .5 miles from east side of Harmony. A water meter will be installed.

Approved IRS mileage rate of $0.365.

The city is looking at getting bids on the community centers roof in April or May if they intend to start work in June.

The Board of Review will meet Tuesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. in the Council Room at the Community Center.

Julliann Mueller can be reached at

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