At its Feb. 14 regular meeting, the Watkins council heard the Sheriff’s report. They also heard about a problem by a resident with the sewer line to his home possibly caused by faulty connection during the 2007 construction project. While no longer covered by the contractor’s warranty, the city may be liable for at least a portion of the repairs in Spring (when it can be dug up). The city will have to inspect the problem then before it can determine or accept fault.
The city agreed to have Arvig clean up the tangle of phone and internet wires at City Hall, and make sure everything works well for all needing wi-fi service. The city will use the off-site backup service of Banyon Data Systems (its payroll, utility billing, and accounting software provider) for those services, and Mozy Home to back up all other computer data off-site.
The council decided on an 18” by 12’ “City of Watkins” sign for the front of the newly re-sided City Hall building.
The impending sale of the USDA bond (that ultimately will save the city $1.6 million) has not yet happened. Rates are being watched, as the final cost of the refinancing is dependent upon the city’s ratings. It will again be discussed at the March 21 meeting.
No changes were made to the city’s policy on utility billing: any adjustment on more than 5,000 gallons still must be approved by the council.
Snow piles in town were discussed at length. A number of contractors are plowing snow into piles, as are homeowners. Some are in potentially harmful spots. Individual businesses will be asked to have their contractors move any piles considered troublesome.
April 17 was set as the Board of Review meeting for the city; 7 p.m. is the set time.
Mayor Dennis Loch gave an update on the EDA; they are busy and seek community input for attracting new business to town.
A special meeting of the council has been called for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27, to interview applicants for the Public Works Assistant position. The field of 16 applicants was narrowed to six who will be invited for interviews, pending successful background checks.
The council accepted the resignation of the current Pool Manager, and discussed the Manager and Assistant Manager for this coming season. Much will depend upon the qualifications (and ideas) these candidates can bring to the job. The council agreed that they will look for individuals early (starting now) rather than waiting until the season is too close. The council is anxious for some new ideas to utilize the Watkins Pool which is an asset to the community, but has become a financial drain.
At the Fire Board meeting, it was decided to raise retirement benefits to $1,000 per person.
The city purchased a newer plow truck, and will put the old one up for bids to be sold. Many residents have commented on the much-improved street plowing. The new truck has already been involved in an accident. Drivers are warned that they should never get too close to any plow truck, as they need to stop and back up, frequently and quickly, in the course of their operation. Plow trucks are large and heavy, and need a lot of space to maneuver. The accident was caused when the truck backed into a car; no one was hurt.
The city is required to publish a notice of violation for water testing (see page 18 in this issue). The error was caused by the operator’s failure to fill in one line of the form that has to be submitted each quarter to the MPCA. Because the “chlorine residual” data was missing, the water report is incomplete and the city must print that public notice. There is (and was) no noted problem with the water itself, only the record-keeping.