The Hokah City Council met March 7 at the Hokah Fire Department. Mayor Lee Tippery called the meeting to order at 7 p.m. Also present were Lindsey Martell, city clerk/treasurer; and Council members Cindy Oldenburg, Tom Bernsdorf, Cory Lorenz and Tom Oldenburg.
After approving the various items in the Consent Agenda including the February meeting minutes, bills payable and consolidated balance sheet, the council addressed the issue of the city water project.
The council unanimously approved awarding a nearly $1.2 million contract to Winona Mechanical for major upgrades of the city’s municipal water system. The project specifications includes upgrades at both Well House 1 and Well House 2, including new pumps, upgrading the electrical service and controls, new piping, HVAC, installation of a standby generator, and a variety of other associated trades and work such as concrete and finish work.
Council members discussed the issue at length, citing the regrettable, but necessary, water utility rate increases for Hokah taxpayers. The council will schedule a special meeting to present the public with a detailed description and justification for the project.
Among the reliability issues with the current system are extensive corrosion of the electrical distribution gear. Mayor Tippery said, “It’s not a question of if this system will fail, but when it fails.”
Mayor Tippery added, “Right now we don’t even have a backup generator for the pumps. If the power to the city goes down, then there’s no water. We need to get this project done. We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.”
Council members all agreed that if the project is not green-lighted and work started soon, there could be a major water system failure due to the aging pumps, corroded electrical service, piping and other components. They also cited that delay, inflation and rising interest rates could cause project expenses to become even greater.
Of three bids received, Winona Mechanical Inc. of Winona, Minn., had the winning bid at $1,066,595. To finance the project the city council also approved the issuance of a $1,292,000 general obligation water revenue note.
Gina Herman reports that the Hokah Library has installed security cameras. The library recently received a $500 grant from SELCO and a $500 grant from the State of Minnesota.
Fire Chief Lance Ross said that the Hokah Fire Department’s bus has needed replacement for some time. Recently the City of Houston made available their 1989 IHC fire truck with only 6,000 miles on its rebuilt engine. After inspecting the truck the Hokah Firemen’s Association purchased the truck and has donated it back to the Hokah Fire Department.
Police Chief Robert Schuldt reported that February was an average month with 72 incident reports during the month. He also reminds Hokah residents that annual pet licenses are due April 1.
Wastewater, streets and maintenance
Eli Craig reports that the MMS Environmental Report is complete. He has also been in discussion with Schneider Heating and Air Conditioning that has offered the city a preventive maintenance plan. Schneider is offering the city two visits per year to inspect all the HVAC equipment at city hall, the wastewater plant, fire department, and library. The council asked Eli to get back to Schneider for more information on exactly what is included, aside from the inspections.
Lindsey Martell reports that there are eight lifeguards expressing interest for this summer.
City Clerk/Treasurer Martell reviewed the 2022 auditor’s report, covered variances in the city budget and reported that city insurance costs are up. In addition library funding is up. The council has again agreed to waive the statutory tort limit.
Hokah Food Shelf
The council has been exploring whether the city can add the Hokah Food Shelf to its liability insurance policy. However, because the city is not involved in the food shelf’s operation, this is not possible. Mayor Tippery suggested that if necessary the city may donate funds to help the food shelf cover the cost of their insurance premiums. Cory Lorenz said that he would also approach the Hokah Lions Club relative to a donation.
The city council adjourned at approximately 8 p.m. The next meeting of the council will be April 4, at 6 p.m. at the Hokah Fire Department.
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