The Clintonville Common Council approved Schenck for the city’s rate case proposal.
The approval came at the March 16 council meeting at which it received information about three bids for doing an electric rate case for the utility. The bids were: $15,000 from Baker Tilly, $8,000 from Kerber Rose, and $9,000 from Schenck.
For the rate case to be conducted, the firm that gets the bid must receive all the information from the city. That being the case, city administration recommended staying with Schenck, since it already has the information and that would speed up the process.
Kuester questioned staying with Schenck since it is the firm the city has been using, and the city now has more than $1 million in unfunded pension liability.
“I say we stop putting all our eggs in one basket with Schenck and move to try another firm,” Kuester said.
Alderman Bill Zeinert said his understanding of the case is it would not impact residential rates. It is only about industrial use.
“This is not a matter of raising all the residential rates, it’s a matter of getting the correct rate structure for our largest commercial users so that they are paying what is fair and reasonable within the law,” Zeinert said.
He added that 80 percent of the power utilized in Clintonville is for commercial or light industrial usage. Of that 80 percent, 60-70 percent is used by Walker Forge.
“Walker Forge is very much in favor of the utility charging a fair and reasonable rate as they absolutely are dependent on power and have gone out of their way to work with the utility,” Zeinert said.
He added, “The math is sound and the rate case is valid. Every day we don’t progress with it, frankly, the utility is losing money.”
The council approved Schenck for the rate study by a vote of 8-1. Kuester voted no. Alderman Phil Rath was excused from the meeting.
Interim City Administrator Chuck Kell and Parks and Recreation Director Justin Mc Auly recently met with the Graceland Cemetery Association to see if it would need the city to get involved with the cemetery.
“I’m happy to report they’re doing well with the increased subsidy the city has provided. At least at this point there really is no thought process that we’ll be taking the cemetery over anytime soon,” Kell said.
He added that it’s good the city doesn’t have to get involved at this point.
“Unless the council has a desire to take over a cemetery anytime soon, I say we just sit pat and let them keep going,” Kell said.
Kuester asked how much the increased subsidy amounted to.
Kell said the city increased the subsidy by $10,000 this year. The total subsidy is $17,000.
Kuester claimed the council did not know about this figure prior to the meeting.
Alderman Mark Doornink said the council was aware of this figure, as it was in the budget that the council approved late last year.
Earlier in the meeting during the citizens forum, two members of the cemetery association spoke regarding the council’s involvement with the association. The council was told a city council member can not be appointed to the cemetery association board. To be a member of the board, a person has to be a member of the association. Members are then elected to the board.
Kell informed the council that he is working with a developer regarding the potential of building apartment buildings in Clintonville.
“I’m trying to locate sites for them, both on the fringe of the community and also potentially downtown,” Kell said.
Kell said the developer has worked in the city previously, and he has worked with the developer in the Fox Valley.
Kell informed that council that he will be meeting with representatives of Walker Forge and Creative Converting regarding storm water issues on Spring Street.
“They’ve had some problems with flooding in their buildings and flooding in their parking lots,” Kell said.
The meeting will focus on how to resolve that problem, Kell said.
“Some of this will require probably some changes on site for the private businesses, and potentially also expenditure by the city in terms of upgrading our storm sewer system in the area,” Kell said.
“I’m very happy to announce that the group that’s been assisting with this, and your citizens and businesses, have really come forward,” Kell said.
The fundraising effort had collected almost double the amount needed for the flowers this year, Kell said. The money that isn’t used this year will be used for flowers next year.
“I really want to acknowledge the community for coming forward and helping out with that,” Kell said.
The council approved a fire department request to declare surplus the 1988 Seagrave truck by a vote of 7-2.
Council President Jeannie Schley asked if the council would get to approve the high bid.
Kuester said when items have been declared surplus in the past, approving the high bid has never been brought back to the council.
Schley said high bids for items from the utilities have come back to the council for approval. She added that she wants this instance to work the same way.
Doornink suggested setting a reserve price when putting the truck up for auction. He said Fire Chief Shane Krueger has already started researching the value of the truck.
Schley and Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy voted no.
Zeinert told the council that the budget included a line item allocation to fully fund the 2015 HSA for city employees. As part of that, the city was holding off making the full payment while it researched other health insurance options.
“We need to move forward with the HSA in the meantime as we will not be making a major switch in the middle of the year, which was the outstanding question,” Zeinert said.
Zeinert said there are employees who need the money in their HSA accounts. He said the Finance Committee agreed to move forward and fully fund the accounts.
The council unanimously approved fully funding the employee HSA accounts.
The council unanimously approved the recommendation of the Finance Committee to cut $47,000 from the city’s budget. Each city department submitted cuts it could make.
• The council unanimously approved suspending the rule requiring two readings for Ordinance 1103. It then unanimously approved Ordinance 1103 – Possession or Use of Tobacco Products by Minors. The ordinance restricts the use of e-cigarettes by minors.
• The council unanimously approved a bid for selling recycled crushed concrete and blacktop. Only one bid was received.
• The council unanimously approved razing buildings at 60 S Clinton Avenue and 164 N Main Street. The city will do the labor itself to save money.
• The council approved by a vote of 7-2 to refer the discussion about garbage pickup in the city of Clintonville to the Finance Committee. Kuester and Alderman Jim Krause voted no.
• The council unanimously approved 50 percent of the cost up to a maximum of $500 for two local hotels to fund trip advisor pages.
• The council unanimously approved up to $400 a month for a billboard promoting shopping in Clintonville during the downtown construction. The money will come from the tourism account.