The Spring Valley City Council held a regular meeting on September 12 with all council members present (Mayor Tony Archer, John Dols, Chris Danielson, Luan Ruesink, and Greg Brooks). City Clerk Deb Zimmer participated as well.
Immediately prior to the regular council meeting, a public hearing was held on the topic of the city’s 2023 Improvement Project. Drew Weber, representing the engineering firm of Bolton & Menk, gave an overview of the project, saying, “The city and Fillmore County, as you guys know, are planning an improvement project along Farmer Street. Last Thursday, we held a neighborhood meeting and invited residents affected by the project. We talked about the project location, which extends from Section Avenue out to the treatment plant driveway.”
He went on to explain that in addition to the portions of the project that would be paid by the county, the city, and by the public utility funds, special assessments would be used to help pay for the project, but he added that the city is working to keep the assessments affordable.
Steve Majors, a property owner impacted by the project, addressed the council with a safety concern. He explained that if a sidewalk is installed as a part of the project, he will not be able to get his vehicle completely out of his garage prior to being on the sidewalk. He stated, “I have nothing against sidewalks, but I’m all for safety too.” Majors requested a variance so that a sidewalk would not be installed on his property. No action was taken on the request at this time.
Chris Czapiewski also addressed the council, asking what steps will be taken to allow traffic to continue flowing effectively during the construction. Weber responded, saying, “We’ll work with the county to design these plans and the roadway, and we will work on a detour plan. There’s times where detours are inconvenient.” He added that he’ll be meeting with county officials next week. The public hearing was then closed, and the regular council meeting was opened.
The council considered a proposed sewer rate increase. Deb Zimmer explained, “Because the last few years, when we’ve increased, we’ve increased the base rate. Option Two is the one that would increase the per gallon fee, and less on the base rate. By increasing the base rate, everybody pays the increase. If you increase the per gallon, the higher the usage, and the more they’re going to pay, obviously.” She added that under Option Two, an average user would pay $4.20 more per month. She said this would be a step in the city’s efforts to generate sufficient funds to cover the utility cost, and she summarized, “This is just kind of a bandaid, this is not a fix.” The council voted to implement the Option Two increase, beginning in 2023.
Item number 9 on the agenda was “Knutson Rooster Request.” The citizen making the request was not present, but the council chose to act on the request. Luan Ruesink shared her opinion, saying, “I think we need to stick with what the ordinance is.” The council voted unanimously to deny the rooster request.
Cindy Johnson, a citizen living on Buchanan Avenue, asked if/when her street will be upgraded. She said she was told decades ago that Buchanan Avenue was on the city’s “Five-year Plan” but she is still waiting. She asked, “When is this ever going to happen, or will it never happen?” Zimmer and Weber responded, saying that cities generally schedule street improvement projects in coordination with county projects, and that Buchanan is one of several streets that are due for improvements, but no timeline is known yet.
Chris Hahn informed the council of the opportunity to apply for a SHIP grant. He said this grant, if received, would allow the disc golf course to be expanded from nine to 18 holes. The council approved the grant submission.
John Fenske, Park & Rec Director, said that despite vandalism during Ag Days, the overall event was a success. Mayor Archer and Luan Ruesink voiced a hope that in the future, various groups and departments can coordinate so that procedures can be put in place to help prevent such vandalism from recurring.
The council approved the hiring of Cory Bremseth as an EMT, and the hiring of three firefighters (Jamie Johnson, Carter Czapiewski, and Timothy Lecy). The next regular meeting of the Spring Valley city council will be 6 p.m. on Monday, October 10, at city hall. The public is welcome.