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Frugal measures save Rushford thousands

Fri, Jan 12th, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - The Rushford City Council turned routine, start-of-the-year choices into a money saving situation when they opted to solicit RFPs (request for proposals) before designating a financial institution. At their meeting January 8, the council read the staff report summarizing the results of the RFPs. A comparison review of actual data from the city for the last six months showed that at Rushford State Bank the city would have earned $13,219.88, while at Associated Bank the same data would have earned $24,320.48, a difference of $11,100.60 for a six month period. Administrator Windy Block explained the two banks had differing philosophies: one had no fees; the other was fee-based, but paid a higher interest rate. The interest "earned" in the review was the net interest after fees were paid.

Council member Larry Johnson exclaimed, "That's a squad car in six months!" He continued, commending staff on a "fine job done-look at the results!"

The council chose Associated Bank as their official depository; the agreement will run through December 2008 with the right reserved to extend the contract.

Wastewater Plant

In another moneysaving effort, the council opted to have PWD Jeff Copley replace the rotors for the west oxidation ditch at the wastewater plant. While the city engineering consultant estimated the cost at $100,000, the PWD (Public Works Department) has gotten price quotes and will be able to replace the necessary equipment for less than $50,000. In-house staff will be able to complete the work, which will ultimately save time on repairs later.

Copley previously installed a 300-gpm pump for $5,000 at the wastewater plant; original engineer estimates for that project totaled $20,000.

Water Treatment Plant

City Administrator Windy Block outlined the next steps in considering a water treatment plant for the city. The subcommittee would first need to visit other cities to tour both a gravity and force filter type of plant. A water rate study would need to be completed to see the effect the $1 to $1.5 million plant would have on individual users. The project would not be ready for financing until 2008 with public hearings necessary before financing with a bond issue. Rushford's project ranks ninth on a list of 136 eligible projects on the funding list of the PFA (Public Facility Authority). Because a recent study showed the plant would be able to remove radium from the water, Rushford's application for funding should get even stronger. An Environmental Assessment Worksheet would be necessary for the project.

The treatment plant would be located on the site of wells three and four; current well houses would be removed and the new plant would be built over the two wells. Well number two would become a backup source. The new plant would be constructed to resemble a home to help it fit into the neighborhood better.

When council member Larry Johnson asked what the results would be, Block responded, "An inexhaustible supply of water. We'd get rid of iron, manganese, and radium."

Skeptical, Johnson asked if there would be a guarantee. According to Block, the sites to be toured had the same issues as Rushford and solved them with a treatment plant. He acknowledged there were no guarantees though.

Mayor Les Ladewig cautioned this would not be an overnight fix; it could take a year or more to see results because of residue in the old pipes.

Johnson asked what would happen to the radium; Block responded the radium would dissipate in the air. Johnson incredulously queried, "You can't drink it, but you can breathe it?!"

Other business

In other business the council:

• changed their meeting time from 6:00 to 6:30 p.m. while leaving the dates the same (the second and fourth Monday of the month;

• decided to enforce city ordinance and send a letter to the Winona Daily News directing them to remove the recently installed newspaper boxes from the city boulevards;

• passed a resolution thanking Norman's Electric for their donation of all the electrical work for the exhibit area for the Fire Department's 1924 fire truck ($600 value);

• accepted a resignation from police officer Doug Cichosz;

• approved sending a letter to Ferry and Harry Street residents encouraging them to use as much water as possible in order to flush the system following construction and promising to credit their accounts for any water exceeding the minimum 1,000 gallons a month through April 15th;

• directed staff to look into a policy of charging a base fee for water to all city residents and waiving the water hook-up fee until July 1 (residents would still need to pay for the plumbing to complete the hook-up);

• granted a conditional use permit (CUP) to Mary Ann Enns to operate a home-based music instruction business at 717 Olson Drive;

• directed staff to facilitate the creation of an ice skating rink at Creekside.

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