HARRISON – As usually happens, the first part of the Dec. 21 Harrison City Council meeting included words of praise during the Mayor’s Report. Mayor Stacy Stocking expressed his thanks to the fire department for its multiple runs due to the previous week’s heavy snowfall.
“From what I understand from the chief, there was great teamwork,” Stocking said. “Things seemed to get taken care of in a timely manner.”
He added that there also was a fire mutual aid response for Gladwin, as well as some accidents.
“So, kudos to the men and women on our fire department – thank you to each of you,” Stocking said.
The mayor also thanked Sam Russell and his Department of Public Works crew for the new Christmas decorations
“As well, the new Christmas tree at Town Square looks wonderful,” he said. Stocking went on to thank the office staff for keeping things open and safe for the public and each other.
Having adopted minutes of the Dec. 7 Council meeting, as well as Council bills for Dec. 21, attention moved on to visitors. A part-time resident on Little Long Lake raised the issue of “critter cage” trash containment, structures which the city had banned officially in June. Since there is a limit to the time the new American Waste trash bins are allowed to sit at the roadside, his issue was the difficulty in getting the bins dragged back to the residence when the resident has left town. A notice of violation had been sent to him, and later in the meeting Mike Freeman, code enforcement officer, explained that by putting an action response date on the notice of violation, he receives a much better rate of response from residents. He also said that there are 16 residences in the city which still have the critter cages, and notifications had been sent to all of them. Stocking said he thought there should be a discussion before the next meeting “to figure out the right way, the fair way” to handle the critter cage problem.
Moving on to Old Business, Council heard about progress on the Phelps Nature Trail bids, which had originally come in vastly higher than the $540,000 that had been budgeted. Tracey Connelly, city manager/clerk, explained that she had gone back to the contractors and requested adjustments to the project and what cost cuts would result. Connelly said that by reducing the trail asphalt thickness by one-half inch, eliminating bike storage, some fixtures and one of the two proposed exercise kiosks, as well as not paving the parking lots had lowered the bid to $546,995.08.
Council then moved to approve the Nature Trail bid with changes and contingency.
Fire Chief Chris Damvelt had previously reported an average year included about 354 runs, but that as of Dec. 21 there had been 401 runs, which included 38 runs in 12 hours on the previous stormy Saturday. He also reported 78 runs month-to-date, which he said included some accidents and mostly power lines and cable lines.
In his report, Sam Russell spoke of efforts to find a leaf truck replacement, as well as his research to find a propane powered forklift to replace the DPW’s battery-operated lift. He explained the cost savings to be realized by changing to a used propane truck rather than paying to rebuild the battery, and the projected longevity of the propane powered forklift.
Council then moved to approve the expenditure of $4,500 to the DPW for a forklift.
Russell reported that his bid for a new leaf truck was $190,000 and that he would hope to get $50,000-plus for the city’s 15-year-old leaf truck to help offset that cost. Russell said he would have numbers to present at the next workshop.
In other actions, Council moved to:
-Sign the County Interlocal Assessor Agreement;
-Switch from Verizon to FirstNet for cellular services for the city;
-Approve rate increase for rental and cleaning deposit for the City Hall conference room;
-Offer an office position, with potential for a pay increase at 90 days, to Elizabeth Hayes;
-Appoint Jared Govitz to clean City Hall for 10 hours/week at his current rate of pay; and
-Approve the Budget Adjustment Resolution for 2020-17.
In presenting the budget resolution, Connelly informed Council that the city had ended the year spending far less than had been budgeted – leaving it $702,319.39 to the good.
Harrison City Council will meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4.