Granite Falls City Council raises own salary for first time in 18 yrs.

Follow us on Twitter at @AdvocateTribune


On Monday the Granite Falls City Council unanimously passed a resolution allowing for an expected $110,000 in renovations to the Library and Senior Center Building in order to remediate recurrent problems of water infiltration, which have created mold and subsequent health issues.
Council members received a presentation from Ron Halgerson of TSP Architects, of Marshall, in regard to the issue that has been exacerbated by the year’s heavy rains. Recommendations by Halgerson involved work in the lower level where the Senior Center is located and included the replacement of two furnace  units and the duct work  for the air distribution system; the replacement of ceilings to allow for that duct work to be relocated above, rather than below, the floor; and the extension of new mechanical units and replacement of light fixtures to be compatible with the new ceilings and duct work.
Some $94,000 of the expected costs will be driven by the new electrical and mechanical needs as well as acoustical ceilings. The remainder of remediation efforts, such as the installation of dirt fill to direct water away from the outside walls building, will be done by the city’s public works department.
After the resolution was passed, in the lobby of the city council chambers, representatives of the Senior Center on hand for the discussion stated that while they were glad the issues were being addressed they still wished to have the Senior Center located elsewhere. The facility is often over-crowded at meal times and does not allow for particular activities and speaker presentations, they said.
For the time being, the senior meal-site will continue at the temporary location at Henry Hill Apartments until the problems with the city’s building are taken care of. That time period is expected  to stretch into the fall.

In other news:
•It’s been 18 years since the Granite Falls City Council took action to adjust the council salaries, but on Monday, rather self-consciously, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance that raised the annual salary of the council positions to a level that is just below the average for  similar-sized cities.
Initially, councilman Steve Nordaune moved to just raise the salary of the mayor but Smiglewski said the members of the city council deserved to be considered for a raise, too. The motion was then altered to give the mayor and each council member a raise, from $3,000 to $4,000 per year for the mayor and from $2,400 to $3,000 per year for each councilman.
According to information from the League of Minnesota Cities  the average city council salaries for cities ranging in population from 1,500 to 4,700, was $4,085 for the mayor and $3,087 for council members.
According to the city charter and state statute, the raise in city council salaries cannot take effect until a new council is seated following the next General Election, which occurs this November.
Councilman DuWayne Gallow, whose seat is up for election this year, was the lone dissenting vote.
•Council members approved a resolution that will allow the city’s electrical power purchasing agent, Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (CMMPA), to enter into negotiations  with four potential  power suppliers to obtain a reduced rate for wholesale electricity beginning January 1, 2015 and extending through December 31, 2020.
Back in March, council members passed a resolution received from CMMPA that would replace an existing wholesale Power Purchase Agreement with Xcel Energy with more favorable terms locked in over a longer period.
The original terms of the $66.75 per megawatt hour rate were set to run through December 31, 2015, while the new terms would extend the contract for five years, through  the end of 2020––at an expected rate of $49 per megawatt hour.
At the time, a CMMPA representative said that the $49 per megawatt hour figure could change, and the council passed the resolution contingent upon a rate of $52 per megawatt hour or less.
CMMPA recently informed the city that Xcel recently proposed a rate that exceeded the $52 per megawatt hour, hence the new set of negotiations with other potential providers.
According to City Manager Bill Lavin, the elevation in price was the largely the result of cities associated with the project not responding to the proposal by CMMPA in a timely manner. That, and an increase in the cost of oil, saw the price of power rise before the lower rates were locked in, he said.
Lavin added that CMMPA still expects to achieve a wholesale electric power purchase price  below the $52 per megawatt cost. According to Smiglewski, the contract with Xcel, as it presently exists, accounts for approximately 17 percent of the city’s energy supply, which is roughly equivalent  to that produced by the city’s hydro-electric dam.
•In 5-2 vote, council members approved a contract for Frank Kranitz to continue custodial services at the Senior Center at a reduced rate, from $650 to $400 per month. The reduction was the direct result of fewer services being performed in light of recent water issues that have seen seniors move from the Senior Center to Henry Hill until water issues are resolved.
The dissenters included Mayor Smiglewski and councilperson Joe Fagnano, both of whom preferred to pay Kranitz an originally proposed rate by city staff of $450 per month.
•In a like matter, council members approved a contract with  Jody Petersen to clean the lower level of the library and senior center at a rate of $20 per time, which is expected to be twice per week.
 •Back in May, the council had approved a loan in to the amount of $200,000 to Specialty Systems, LLC., to be used to purchase equipment needed for completing major production contracts. According to council information, however, there is no business subsidy criteria to allow for such a loan and as a result council members passed a resolution calling for a business subsidy public hearing at 8:00 p.m. for its August 18 meeting.
•Council approved a resolution calling for bids or the demolition of the old water treatment plant site restoration project. The bids will be due by September 3 and presented for consideration at the September 15 city council meeting.