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|10/30/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Goose Lake officials increase rental fees, eliminate position|
By Jennifer Reed Murrell
Amid normal agenda items, the Goose Lake City Council found itself struggling to fund the operations of the old Goose Lake High School that now houses not only city hall, but the Goose Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Giggle-n-Grow preschool, Northeast (NE) Alternative School as well as a large community meeting space.
During the Oct. 24 city council meeting, city clerk Teresa Lindstrom informed officials of her concern over high expenses associated with the heating and cooling of city hall.
Only three months into the 2013-14 fiscal year, more than $14,000 of the $25,000 allocated from the general fund already has been spent.
"And we're not even half way," Lindstrom noted, adding maintenance bills for city hall have risen dramatically.
"We've had a lot of expenses over the years with this building," she said. Not only were a new roof and furnace installed, but radon detectors were added, and this summer, the first of the two broken central air units was replaced. The second unit is planned for next summer.
Officials lamented the costly air conditioning repairs including adding Freon to the units that council members likened to pouring nearly $1,000 down the drain.
"The repairs here have been significant," Lindstrom said. "We're sinking big time."
The council agreed such expenditures were unavoidable and extended the life of the building. Unfortunately with winter approaching and fuel expenses increasing, the city's general fund is going down.
Councilman Rodney Kilburg suggested increasing the cost of renting the community room. "We've got to try to make money somehow."
Presently the city charges $75 to rent the community room, and the council agreed to a $25 increase as of Jan. 1, noting present reservations would be honored at the $75 rate.
In addition, councilman Ken Schoon recommended increasing the rental rates for both Giggle-n-Grow preschool and the NE alternative school, each by $25 per month to $450 and $825 respectively, effective with the next contract renewal. Neither lease has been increased in three years.
"I think there's a need for us to increase the rates," he explained. "We want to keep this center accessible to the (Boy) Scouts and our senior citizens for free."
City ends maintenance position
Council members agreed increasing rentals is not enough to offset city hall expenses and ultimately approved eliminating the city hall maintenance position from the budget.
While officials verbalized remorse over needing to end the position held by Joe Dunn for several years, mayor Christine Schneider explained recent state mandates have forced it.
"The days of having a maintenance person who can do all the repairs are over. The state doesn't allow that.
"It doesn't make it very cost efficient," Schneider added, "but it's the law."
When repairs are needed at city hall, state mandate requires officials to hire licensed professionals such as Charlotte Electric and Bernie's Heating and Cooling, two local companies the city utilizes.
In addition, each renter of the building is responsible for its own garbage, which leaves little the city hall maintenance worker is responsible for, Lindstrom said.
"That's a person who's been here a long time," Schoon said, referring to Dunn, "but the demands of the position have changed."
Eliminating the position would save nearly $270 a month, $3,200 annually. The council agreed if a need to resurrect the city hall maintenance position arose, Dunn would have recall rights.
Council members Jan Bormann and Kim Point abstained from voting for personal reasons.
'No parking' signs approved
As construction continues on the Northeast Community School District's improvement project, officials approved the purchase of several "no parking" signs.
Members have observed vehicles parked near the city's water plant, where no parking is authorized. Schneider reminded the council Clinton County will not tow a vehicle if there's no sign alerting the vehicle's owner of the violation.
Schoon suggested erecting signs similar to those already posted at the fire station with arrows informing drivers there's no parking between the arrows. "If we had signs like we have here in front of the fire station, we'd only need a couple."
The council approved the purchase of three signs, two indicating no parking between arrows and a third for the gate access to the new ball field.
When council member Patsey Farrell questioned the potential for additional signs near a grassy section of land, Schoon reasoned there was no need to post any at this time.
"Let's wait and see where (NE superintendent) Mr. Cox decides to put his fences," he said.
The Clinton County sheriff's office reported spending 61.65 hours in Goose Lake, July 26-Aug. 25, and 69.90 hours Aug. 26-Sept. 25. During these two months, deputies issued eight warnings, four citations, handled one incident and answered 16 calls.
Tom Witt of the city's water department provided the October report including the installation of a new hydrant at Emma Court, sewer pump cleaning and an inspection of the city sewer by the Department of Natural Resources.
The next meeting of the Goose Lake City Council was rescheduled from Nov. 21 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20.