Clarkfield Council hears Care Center audit report

Jess Gorman
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune

Clarkfield city council met Tuesday, February 16 with a hefty agenda of administrative business and presented reports.

Administrator Chris Webb apprised council of his recent activities starting with the completion of the Aflac open enrollment seminar with city employees on February 23. The Administrative head also reminded viewers that the city office will be closed on Thursday, Feb. 25th for employee training through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Virtual Academy for Civic & Public Affairs. Webb worked recently with the Clarkfield Fire Chief to send out 2021 Fire Contracts to local townships. In other updates from Webb it was noted Countryside Public Health held another vaccine distribution in the garage on February 11. The Health department resource will continue to use the garage facility as a site for the foreseeable future. 

For the Clarkfield Care Center’s report, information was provided by Jessica Anderson who gave updates for the organization. First quarter financials have been submitted for the start of the fiscal year, with occupancy showing an increase in November and December of 2020 bringing the facility to 94% occupancy currently. More applications are still coming in.  Covid related precautions were discussed such as continued additional sanitizing in common areas, some limited activities have resumed with staff testing still at the forefront of the precaution list. Director Justin Boldt concluded with financial updates stating overall revenues are currently at $264,000 and expenses $188,000. 

Cell phone reimbursements for staff were formally discussed. City administrator Webb checked in with other local cities (Minneota, Cottonwood, Dawson, Granite Falls, Woodlake, and Canby) to look for consistency in policies they have and what amounts they reimburse employees for using personal cell phones for city business. Webbs research along with consideration by the personnel committee yielded the outcome of staff receiving a reimbursement stipend of $50/month. The change in policy will take effect in April 2021. 

The City of Clarkfield kicked off the process of accepting independent contractor proposals to provide limited custodial services for city buildings by finalizing an RFP request for the service. The city areas that would be part of the package contract are: City Offices, Library, old city hall building meeting room, and kitchen. Proposals will be accepted until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, March 1, 2021. The contract shall be for an initial period of two years subject to a one-year renewal. The City will reserve the right to reject any and all bids and to waive any and all irregularities and technicalities in the bidding process and to award a bid in the best interests of the City.

Updates were begun at the suggestions of Webb to the existing city’s employee personnel policy to bring it in line with current MN State Statutes. The new recommended language will require the Public Works department to have at least one full-time employee that has a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Per the new language “That employee shall be designated as the department’s CDL operator. The Public Works Foreman/Director can and shall designate all other public works employees as backup snowplow drivers pursuant to MN State Statute 171.02 Subd. 5. If the current designated CDL operator shall no longer continue employment with the city, then the Public Works Foreman/Director shall within six (6) months designate a new department CDL operator through the hiring process or through additional training for an existing public works full-time employee”. 

City Administrator Webb also recommended that the city council vote to open the city office, City shop, and city hall meeting room to the public. Masks will still be required to wear in all city 

indoor spaces. The Administrator also advocated for allowing up to 66% of seating capacity at city council meetings moving forward. Under current guidelines 7 additional people are allowed in the meeting room at one time. This new capacity would allow for 12 additional people in the city meeting room at one time. 

The annual audit Clarkfield Care Center presentation was conducted at the February 16 meeting with Tyler Swenson of Clifton Larson and Allen.  “Everything went well from our standpoint, we are happy to be presenting to you all again” said Swenson.  The final draft form has an unmodified opinion, the standard result seen in past audits. There were no major concerns and the firm commended the financial accounting work done internally by staff. The auditor referenced CARES act funding received and the continued seeking of support funds like the PPP loan currently being sought. All are considered necessary approaches that the auditor’s firm will continuously aid the Care Center in the federal required reporting of the usage. The auditor also referenced dips in occupancy as seen in parts of 2020, explaining the trend can be seen in numerous care facilities across the US.  The simple factor preventing many from making the needed move to a care facility like Clarkfields in these times is a potential resident’s desire to not go through a move-in and then be quarantined for multiple weeks in their new residency.  The firm is hopeful that as Covid-19 vaccines are administered across the US, more facilities will see an increase in clientele that in reality do need services and support.  To view a full copy of the Care Center audit, interested parties may contact city hall.