Fountain City Council approves agreement for wastewater treatment plant operation

By: 
Bretta Grabau

The Fountain City Council met on Wednesday, May 1, debating whether or not to continue an agreement to operate the wastewater treatment plant with PeopleService or to sign a new agreement with MMS Environmental.

Of the two agreements, PeopleService is the one the city has contracted with for the past several years and the company that has succeeded in getting the WWTP numbers into compliance with the requirements. Both agreements were for the span of three years. PeopleService was a bit higher than MMS in monthly and annual fees. PeopleService proposed a price of $80,304 per year with an additional charge for chemicals used at the plant.

MMS is a new company, but several council members met a representative from the company, who believed the Fountain plant could utilize more modern technology in its operations. A point watch monitor system could be installed at the plant, which would allow the operator to monitor the plant 24/7 off his phone or laptop. He offered a couple different options for the council to consider including $61,200 annually for the plant operation. Cost for the chemicals would be added on top of that annual amount. This option would have someone come three times a week to look over the plant. The other option discussed would have the point watch system installed with someone visiting the plant two times a week. This would be $58,200 annually. Another part of the agreement would be MMS would train their people at the plant and also train City Maintenance Supervisor John Hanson at no charge.

There were good points brought up at the council meeting for both agreements. Council Member Chad Wangen reiterated PeopleService was the company that finally got the numbers down where they should be at the plant, where numerous other companies failed. However, he did state he was not too happy with the runaround with PeopleService and how much money the city had spent on chemicals. It was also noted the cost for running the plant would be raised each year.

Conversely, Council Member Ron Reisner liked the idea of the man not needing to be at the plant and still know everything that is going on there. In addition, the cost to run the plant was lower and the fee was guaranteed not to go up in the three years. However, the council had not worked with this company previously, and it remains to be seen if the numbers will remain in compliance with a new company.

Another question brought up was what would happen if new houses were built, would the facility be able to handle more sewage and seeding to keep the numbers down.

Mayor Jim Schott stated he had spoken with a representative of the MPCA who was familiar with the man at MMS Environmental.

After much thought, the council approved a contract with MMS Environmental, though it was not unanimous. The contract with PeopleService runs out on Aug. 31. The new contract with MMS Environmental will go into place on Sept. 1.

Sinkholes causing water runoff

Tom Tienter attended the meeting inquiring about sinkholes near his property and an issue with water run-off. Schott stated the sinkholes are on private property, not the city’s property.

There are currently three sinkholes open and perhaps one or two more spots which will open up soon. The city will send a letter to the property owner alerting him of the situation and see what he wants to do about the problem.

The water issue is a concern because the water comes down the right of way and Tienter stated Cedar Street is breaking down. He said he would like to see a mowable ditch there and a culvert put in so the water goes down to a drainage point or the water will come down his driveway.

The council will ask the city engineer to look at the situation and get an estimate for work done to assuage the problem.

Tienter intends to fix his driveway, but he does not feel it can be done until the water issue is solved.

City clerk report

City Clerk Rhonda Flattum reminded the council of the citywide spring cleaning scheduled for Monday, May 13, from 4 to 8 p.m. The truck will be in the back city parking lot and Flattum asked for the council members to be ready to assist elderly with bigger items to discard.

Letters will be sent to residents with unlicensed vehicles, boats, etcetera, in the next couple of weeks.

There are several city projects to prepare for the 150th celebration, and people are encouraged to help to make the anniversary even better. Other opportunities for volunteering will be to help set up for the parade, the dance, bouncy houses, pedal pulls, cleanup and more.

Mediacom intended to come to Fountain the week of the meeting, but due to the weather, it has been delayed. However, the project is on the company’s schedule.

The Root River Trail Towns 60-mile garage sale will be held June 21 and 22. Those who want to be on the map in the Fillmore County Journal must have their information in by June 10.

Zoning

The zoning board met with the attorney about what would need to be done for Simon Hershberger’s request to build a shed on a parcel of land. This land would need to be rezoned, but there is process for this and would possibly include two different public meetings before the process is finished.

The board will get a survey done to straighten out the street by Karst Brewing.

The council approved consulting with WSB Engineering on the city ordinances. The city needs to go through the ordinances, especially the zoning ordinance. This ordinance is the most important one to do because it was done 15 years ago and things may be done differently now.

Other business

For a friendly reminder, Schott stated the city’s ordinance currently states dogs still need to be on a leash or within a fenced area, even if they are in their owners’ yards.

Wangen broached the subject of the parking lot behind the city hall. It is in bad shape and needs to be fixed up. Reisner suggested the city look into asphalt grindings which could be acquired for $1,250 per ton. He agreed to talk to Hanson about getting a price for the parking lot.

A new business began in Fountain at the former Los Gables location, AJ’s Diner, on May 8.

Finally, the council approved an off-sale liquor license renewal request from Huey’s Liquor.