Fountain City Council addresses concerns regarding excess snow removal

By : 
Bretta Grabau
News Leader

February proved to be an exceptional month in snowfall, and it was a topic of discussion at the Fountain City Council meeting held on Wednesday, March 6. In some areas, sidewalks have not been cleared, forcing people to move to the street to walk to their destinations. Fountain does ask residents to have their sidewalks cleared within a 24-hour period after snow has fallen, City Clerk Rhonda Flattum stated, but because of the situation in the past month, this has not been attained.

Councilmember Ron Reisner stated, “This is an exceptional year. I know the sidewalks need to be clean, but there is no place to put it.”

The goal for the city is to keep the roads and parking lots cleared, and the sidewalks as much as possible during this crazy winter.

Councilmember Chad Wangen noted, “It needs to be hauled out.”

The city truck, however, has been equipped with the sander to maintain the roads, and it would need to be taken off in order to haul out the snow.

Mayor Jim Schott stated he would discuss the problem with City Maintenance Worker John Hanson, while noting he has been doing a good job dealing with snow. Flattum stated she will not do anything with the residents yet.

Audit report

Andrew Forliti of Smith Schafer & Associates presented the audit summary to the council. He stated the city was pretty close to the budget in the general fund, only going over by $1,747. The fire fund balance increased by nearly $50,000 to $141,343 in 2018, helped tremendously by the gambling.

The general fund unassigned reserves equal 141 percent of the annual general fund expenditures, and increased reserves by $18,271 in 2018. Flattum commented with this percentage the city could probably transfer out some more unassigned funds. The local property tax collections in 2018 amounted to $184,760, and state local government aid to $71,880.

Forliti also reported the capital improvement fund holds a balance of $61,627 available for future capital projects and the equipment replacement fund balance has $32,315 available.

The one loan the city has is the MPFA Clean Water Revolving Loan payable for $580,430.

The sewer fund is operating at a breakeven on the cash basis and generated sufficient cash flow to service the debt in 2018, but not add cash reserves for future capital needs.

The council approved the audit report.

Other business

New City Attorney Frederick Schuler came to introduce himself to the council. He stated he has been city attorney for a number of other cities including Rochester, Oronoco, Eyota and Chatfield and is looking forward to working with a small community like Fountain. He stated he is a one-person law office, semi-retired, and will be available whenever the city needs him. He has worked in the county previously for 25 years and enjoyed it. He will do as much or as little as the city wants him to do. He did note it is important to have the ordinances organized enough to know what they are and where they are and put online.

The council approved a county attorney prosecutor agreement with Brett Corson to handle the criminal law for the city.

The city received a quote from Frank Electric to install LEDs in three light poles in the park, $135 for each plus a $30 installation fee for each. It was approved.

In zoning, the council approved a 60-feet-by-80-feet building for Peter and Melinda Swartzentruber and discussed a 60-feet-by-192-feet shed in a subdivision area requested by Simon Hershberger. Schott noted the planning and zoning commission would need to rezone the area.

The council also approved liquor licenses for Beaver Bottom’s Saloon and Karst Brewing, a resolution supporting the 150th anniversary celebration on Fountain Trail Days and a resolution for the city to begin having all liquor licenses expire at the same time.

The Preston Area Community Foundation Annual Banquet was to be held on Monday, March 11, at the Fountain Community Center, and the council agreed for the city to pay for council members wanting to attend the banquet.