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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

Preliminary engineering report reviewed by Kelliher Council

The Kelliher City Council met Sept. 8 for a special meeting concerning the seer and water eningeering report and tax levy.

Curt Meyer from Widseth Smith Nolting Engineering went through all the changes and adjustments that were noted from the PER review meeting. Some of the changes included the current water/sewer rates, O and M was increased to account for higher wages and utility costs, map for water main replacements fixed, sewer televising records, utility billing software costs, chemical feed building cost increased by $100,000, inspection costs (water tower), line items for material testing ei: roads, ponds, etc. and Electrical costs for a ground storage option.

Meyer may have to add the costs for keeping the water tower empty and maintained. He will also be adding references from the 10 state standards, OSHA standards and from regional solutions information.

Mike Rudd had come through and retested the water and found the manganese to be OK but said that the iron is still high.

WSN Funding Specialist Pat Conroy then passed out information sheets showing what he had sent in to the different agencies last year. He had used the figures from the PER from Freeburg & Grund, so the numbers will change when our new PER is finished. The report shows where Kelliher sits in scheme of things and approximately how and where the grant funds will be coming.

Councilman Richard Skoe asked when would the city would know if grants will be received. It was estimated that the grants should be in by the first of the year. If the city knows by January, that will give enough time to design and bid and have a 2012 build.

If nothing is known by then and the city still wanted to do a street project, they (the city) would have to go through normal bonding procedures to finance that.

Meyer said he would send a copy of the PER to Kathy Luepke so she can have an advanced look at it and give her opinion. If she feels it is possible, Conroy will send in the Small Cities Grant Application again. If it is not possible, he won't send it in this year as these small cities grants must be applied for every year.

A public hearing is not required until after funding is awarded, but it could be done before hand.

Before a public hearing, the council agreed that they should have some figures to give the public concerning the water rates and assessments. There are too many variables that are unanswered to correctly figure the loan/grant variables. Small cities do not want entities to assess property owners but Rural Development doesn't care.

Meyer will make the required changes and bring a final P.E.R. to the Sept. 20 council meeting for final approval to vote on the submittal of the P.E.R.

The council discussed its need to set the maximum levy amount to be submitted to the county.

City Clerk Shelli Krueth gave the council the current balance of the Debt Service Assessments according to the county.

The city has $56,611 coming in the next five years, but we have $128,537 left in payments. She also explained that the city had not been levying for the debt service for seven of the last 11 years as Ehlers had suggested, hence the short fall in the sebt dervice fund.

Mayor Darin Latterell explained that the city cannot put money into the Debt Service Fund, it can only get there through a tax levy. They had done so one year and the auditors had cited the city for it.

Skoe inquired about setting up a transfer from the Water Sewer Fund to the Debt Service to account for the monies that should've been allocated from the past. Krueth was directed to consult with the auditors to find out how this should be done.

The current General Levy must be lowered and the Debt Service Levy increased, so the total tax to the residents will stay the same.

The council debated how the budget will handle the short coming and felt they've done good for the last few years at keeping expenses down and the budget can handle the deficit.

The motion was then made to set the General Levy at $25,300 and the Debt Service Levy at $18,000 and it was passed unanimously.

The budget meeting was scheduled Sept. 26.