City Commission Finance Meeting
Valley City, North Dakota
Thursday, January 4, 2024
Called to Order
President Carlsrud called the meeting to order at 2:30 PM.
Members present: President Carlsrud, Commissioner Magnuson, Commissioner Bishop, Commissioner Erickson, Commissioner Gulmon.
Other present: City Attorney Martineck, City Administrator Crawford, Finance Director Klein, Administrative Assistant Hintz
Police Chief Horner discussed the 2024 Budget for the year and changes that he will be making. The Department is down two positions so working on applicants to fill those positions. Researching Discipline Matrixes to see if one would be a fit for this size of Department. This would also mean putting together a Committee of Officers to make the Matrix with what they feel is needed and enforceable for the entire Department.
Sanitation Supervisor Swart was not present. Operations Supervisor Klemisch shared that anyone taking trees or branches to the drop site try to pile them together instead of scatter throughout. 30 people used the “Free Christmas Week” garbage drop off that was offered by the City. Good thing we limited to 100 pounds as some did try to bring more. The automated truck is down to 1 arm at this time but able to keep up. It is being used while waiting for the repairs. All garbage pickup is up to date. Shutting down alley pickup on Valley Avenue for the winter due to conditions.
Operations Supervisor Klemisch stated that his Team was out every day during the Ice Storm Event, both Sanders & the Motor Grader out daily, at times even more equipment. Focus in the first 24 hours was on the Emergency Routes and Hills. Downtown was taken care of Thursday morning. They have now entered the Residential Areas.
- Salt/Sand Discussion –Operations Supervisor Klemisch reported on the amounts of Sand/Salt that was used for this one event & then added in the amount that was sold to local Businesses as well. He is keeping an eye on the amount that was used and then what he feels will be needed for the remainder of the Winter. Rates, delivery fees and a possible cap on the amount of Sand/Salt sold were discussed.
- Finance Director Klein reported expenditures in the amount of $2,488,773 for the month.
- Monthly Engineer Report. Finance Director Klein shared that we did come in under budget for the year of 2023. The Current contract did expire. The City will need to draw up a new contract and both KLJ & Moore Engineering will need to agree and sign off if we wish to continue. Recommendations from Staff are to continue as is.
- Viking Drive Estates Mobile Home Park License Renewal 2024 Discussion – City Administrator Crawford spoke with David Wick and discussed the budget & plan for the Viking Drive Estates. Crawford recommends that we approve until 4/15/2024 and must have a budget and plan into the City to continue after that date.
- Discuss updates to the Employee Policy Manual. City Attorney Martineck emailed the red line copy to the Commissioners. Discussion was held on a few of the changes such as On-Call or a Second Job. The changes were approved and recommended by the Employee Committee.
Water Superintendent Hesch shared how the power outages effected the Water Plant. Concentrating on maintenance items as approaching the equipment being over 10 years old. These repairs and maintenance do take quite a bit of time with a shutdown to machines and dry time before work can begin. The lead time on parts are weeks out. As the equipment ages, there will be more repairs and maintenance in the future. Discontinued the Data Contract with GE and went with a different route for the data. This saved substantial funds.
Electrical Superintendent Senf reported that his Team has been busy cleaning up after the Ice Storm and getting the Electricity going for the City. His Team will need to go back to locations and verify & correct the quick fixes and make sure that everyone has reliable power resources. Missouri River Energy Services will be out doing infrared scans to verify any weak spots so they may be taken care of. Tree branches near lines will also need to be removed. Electrical Superintendent Senf also explained the Western Area Power Association’s power outage lines were sagging and drawing the lines down, this caused a static line to touch a transmission line causing it to short out. They were having relay issue at the substation, so they needed to send a crew from Fargo to come out and rectify the relay issue and power was restored. This happened again a couple days later. Our Team was able to fix the line and restore service. There are 2 Drone Operators that will be getting licensed on the Team. The drones were instrumental in finding the breaks. We will be looking into a new afterhours answering service as Cass County will no longer be taking calls after June 30, 2024.
Fire Chief Magnuson shared the Year in Review for 2023. Calls were way up from previous years. There were several calls during the Ice Storm and all Departments worked so well together. Dangerous Building Report was discussed and the process to clean up dangerous buildings and piles of rubbish that are in yards in the City. Fines were discussed to help with the process.
Fire Extinguisher Report was much higher than last year. Expenses should be less in the future with the changes made to the Master Fee Schedule on charges.
New Items Continued
- Tree Branch Pick-up & Removal – Operations Supervisor Klemisch reported that currently they are using 2 payloaders & 3 tandems in the cleanup process for the Ice Storm Tree Branch removal. We started the Residential pick up today just on the South side of Interstate. As of 2:00PM 13 loads were hauled out and the Crew just made it to Winter Show Road. This would be about ½ of the SE Section. This is at least a month-long process. People will need to be patient and know that the City is trying. Be aware that they will not be going back to areas that branches were already picked up. They are also not raking up small sticks and branches. You would need to take your branches out to the site if you missed the pickup in your area.
- Apprenticeship Opportunity with North Dakota Rural Water – City Administrator Crawford explained that Valley City was approached to become one of the City’s that would take on apprenticeships. This means that the City would hire a person while they are registered as Student at Bismarck State College in the Water Plant or Distribution Field of studies. The student would work for the City while attending classes and completing their college courses. The benefit to the student would be Employment and on the job training to assist with their Water Plant curriculum. The benefit to the City would be to fill open positions that we currently have and, in the fields, where we are needing bodies.
Public Works Accountant Jacobson discussed the possible reimbursements for the Ice Storm Declaration and what we are keeping track of this time. All labor, pay rate & benefits and truck usage, repairs & work that have to do with the Ice Storm. He is keeping track daily on a spreadsheet. Currently he is at about $80,000 worth of expenses we have paid out. His best guess is that FEMA will reimburse for about $52,000.
Finance Director Klein updated the Commissioners that payment was received on the items that were sold at auction for $31,640. Currently she is working on a loan with the Bank of ND on the Northwest Reconstruction Project that will be happening this year. This is the Special Assessment part of the project. We are getting a rate of 2% on $425,000. We will not start drawing on the loan until this fall and we will have a resolution brought before the Commission prior to drawing. Finance Director Klein shared that in an email regarding tax distribution to the Commissioners she explained that the City received an extra highway distribution payment in the amount of $113,000. She has also been working with the new outside Auditors.
City Attorney Martineck discussed The Captain’s Pub as it was voted on at the last Commission meeting to have a Public Hearing. The Hearing is scheduled for January 16, 2024. The Captain’s Pub has hired a Lawyer, but he has not responded to any correspondence that was sent his direction. The License Holder did try to call today but had to leave a voicemail. There are witnesses subpoenaed for this hearing. There is a more formal process to follow to suspend a license. Martineck will be working with Mayor Carlsrud on this process. Hoping that a resolution will be reached prior to the Public Hearing but if needed, it is on the calendar.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:32 PM.