The Spring Valley City Council met November 9. Members present included Luan Ruesink, Chris Danielson, John Dols, and Mayor Tony Archer. Also attending was City Clerk/Administrator Deb Zimmer. Council member Mike Hadland was absent. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and social distancing practices were in use by those attending.
A proposed increase in the city’s sewer rate was discussed. Resolution 2020-41 stated that the most recent rate increase was in November of 2019, but because of upcoming improvement projects planned, that rate will not cover the expected costs. Therefore, the resolution stated, the proposed increase would be for the “per gallon” rate to increase by 25 cents, and the base rate would see an increase of $2.50. Deb Zimmer said for most users, this will be a very minor cost increase, and the users most impacted by the change would be “high volume” users, such as the school and the senior living center. The council approved the resolution to raise rates as proposed. The rate increase will be effective with the 2021 February 1 billing cycle.
During the Department Head reports section of the meeting, Sue Puffer gave a report on the ambulance crew, stating, “Last month, we had 47 calls, with five times that two trucks were out.” She praised her staff for stepping up to meet the need at these times. Puffer also discussed hiring and training of new staff, stating, “We have three people that are in class that are doing ride-alongs now.” She also said the ambulance service’s medical director has recommended that in-person training be halted for now, due to the pandemic. Therefore, Zoom or online training will replace the usual in-person sessions.
Troy Lange reported on fire department activity, saying, “It’s been really quiet. We had a couple of cornfield fires.” Regarding the city’s “fire relief benefit,” the council approved an increase in the annual amount, going from $1,650 per year to $1,750 per year.
Chad Hindt (Streets Department) reported that the crew is busy working on getting all snow removal equipment and vehicles ready for winter. Jessy Betts (Sheriff’s Department) addressed the council about a proposed purchase of a 2021 Dodge Ram. The price, including add-ons, was $30,122. The council approved the purchase.
The council approved the city’s upcoming annual financial audit, which will again be done by the accounting firm of Smith Schafer & Associates, with Jason Boynton again serving as the primary contact. The city’s audit will begin in December, and will be completed no later than June 30, 2021, at an expected cost of $19,200.
Four resolutions were approved regarding usage of available CARES Act funding. Zimmer pointed out that all such funds must be expended by November 15, or else it must be given to the county. The four resolutions included expenditures for cleaning and sanitizing at the library and community center, paid administrative leave during the Governor’s “stay at home” order, personal protective equipment (PPE) including sanitizing products and stationary barriers, and a computer for the Fire Department (to allow for remote work, to reduce exposure to COVID-19).
Mayor Archer reminded citizens to be aware and comply with the city’s winter parking rules. Because the council is switching to just one meeting per month from now through March, the next regular meeting of the council will be Monday, December 14, at 6 p.m, at city hall. The public is welcome. The December 14 meeting will begin with the city’s annual Truth in Taxation hearing.