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Webster City Council discusses snow removal, sewer project

How much snow is acceptable for private business owners to push into the street for the city crews to clean up? That was a topic of discussion at the Webster City Council meeting Dec. 2 when they entertained the possibility of amending the city’s snow removal ordinance.

Mayor Mike Grosek said the issue is snow that is being pushed out into the streets or alleys behind businesses after the city crews have already removed the snow there.

“It gets really complex,” said Councilman Jim Grimes. Grimes asked if it should be acceptable for snow to be hauled down the street and added to the pile the city is working on removing. “Some businesses contain their snow in the back... (others) haul it away. We’re clearing the snow in front already.”

Councilman Dale Miller said the city needs to start following through with issuing fines for those who don’t heed the current ordinance. Grimes agreed. The current ordinance prohibits snow from being piled or rowed up in the street, according to Grosek.

“Once the plows go by, I don’t think there’s anything that should be put back out in the street,” Grosek said. “The city is not responsible to remove your snow.”

Grosek said it’s probably not something that’s being done intentionally, just something that’s been done for years and years. He further said that by the city moving the snow at no charge, it’s taking away from businesses who would otherwise benefit from the employment.

Grimes also pointed out that snow removal necessitates the removal of vehicles from the city streets after a snow storm. He said there is one location in town where four or five vehicles were left parked in the street, including a boat, for several days after the previous snowfall. Some were parked the wrong way and one had a license that was expired by two years.

“It’s the first snow, If something is not done now, are we going to plow around that boat all winter?”

Councilman Wayne Klungseth suggested having the vehicles towed at the owner’s expense. Councilman Mike Dunse agreed, saying that technically speaking, the city is under no obligation to issue a warning prior to towing vehicles in violation of the city’s ordinance.

“They should have had tickets – could still do it from the looks of it,” Grimes said, referring to photos of the offending vehicles.

Sewer project

Without state funding assistance, it’s unlikely the massive city-wide sewer replacement project would go forward, said Grosek. Councilmen talked about the potential of lining versus replacing lines and which is most economical.

The good part, they say, is that the lining that would be part of the potential project would be cheaper yet than the 10-year plan the city has currently been implementing. Grosek pointed out that by doing the lining, it will extend the life of the pipes by 60-70 years.

Construction for that project will not begin anytime prior to 2021.

In other news:

Shawn Campbell’s variance and building permit were approved. He plans to build a mudroom onto his house at 500 W. 10th Ave.

The city saw a 5.4 percent cost increase in employee health insurance rates. According to Grosek, this is the first major increase in cost in awhile. He said the price has been stable for the past several years.

The library was approved to apply for a $3,500 grant through the Phyllis Hanse fund. They want to update and replace various pieces of furniture.

Council members agreed to upgrade the city street sweeper and will purchase a newer version of their current model. It will be delivered in April and no payments are expected until then. Another benefit of the deal is all the old attachments will still work with the new machine.

Motion was made to hire Melissa Rumpza to fill the full time position at the Municipal Liquor Store. She’ll stay at $9.50 per hour until at least after the first of the year when councilmen consider employee salaries.

January 3 was set for the city Christmas party. It will be held at the golf clubhouse and retirees will be invited. The party starts at 6 p.m. Councilmen also approved giving each employee $100 in Chamber Dollars before Christmas.

The next regular council meeting is Jan. 6 at 6:30 p.m. although a special, year-end meeting will be held Dec. 30 at 6 p.m.

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