City Council Recap: Old Business Reviewed, New Equipment Approved

Ken Reigler from Comprehensive Engineering addresses the Lowell City Council.

Lowell City Council spent one hour and 42 minutes covering a wide-ranging agenda during its regular meeting on Monday night. Councilmember Jim Salzwedel had an excused absence, and the meeting marked the first appearance of new Department of Public Works Director Dan Czarnecki.

City Income Tax Reviewed First

The first agenda item for discussion was an update from City Manager Mike Burns on the city income tax proposal. He had been in touch with the firm behind CityTax software. “Basically, you can contract with them, and they will handle everything up to and including the collection,” he explained. Burns added that there were things the city could be doing internally, and at no cost, in advance of the November election. Representatives from CityTax will attend a future meeting to discuss the matter further.

Before moving on to the next agenda item, Councilmember Cliff Yankovich wanted to clarify his position on the upcoming city income tax ballot proposal. At a recent Coffee with Council meeting, an attendee apparently had the impression all councilmembers were in favor of a city income tax.

“I’m not wild about it,” Yankovich said. However, he noted the council is under public pressure to fix the roads. “What we are in favor of is presenting [the income tax] as an option to the voter,” he explained.

Construction Engineering Approved for Showboat

Comprehensive Engineering has been working on design services for the new Showboat and revamped DPW building on the Riverwalk. On Monday, City Council was presented with two bids from the firm for engineering services. These broke down as follows:

  • DPW Building — $33,000 (to be paid out of money from fundraisers)
  • Showboat — $42,000 (to be paid from grant money)

These fees would pay Comprehensive Engineering to develop the construction specifications and bid packages for each project. Ken Reigler, a principal with the firm, was present to answer questions.

Councilmember Greg Canfield said he was surprised to see a snowmelt system included in the proposed specifications for the Showboat. He was worried about the ongoing maintenance of such a system. However, Reigler said his firm had overseen the installation of about 100 snowmelts, and they had a proven track record. He also mentioned that the way the bid package would be developed, the snowmelt would be an add-on. “If we have some budget issues, it can be peeled out,” Reigler said.

Canfield also asked why the decision was made to go with a more expensive boiler system rather than forced air furnaces. Reigler said space constraints made the boiler a better option.

Both bids were approved unanimously by Lowell City Council.

Roadwork, Utility Updates

Councilmembers viewed a video showing water leaking through joints in wastewater pipes.

Brian Vilmont from engineering firm Prien&Newhof came to the podium for the next two agenda items. The first was a change to a work order for utility and street improvements on South Broadway. It is the fifth change order for the project and increased the overall project cost by $23,966.75 to a total of $1,519,912.81. This will complete the final restoration work behind the curbs on the east and west sides of the road. King Milling will reimburse the city $6,075, which is half the cost of paving on the west side.

The change order was approved unanimously by Lowell City Council.

The second item dealt with the city’s wastewater system. Vilmont explained that his firm had located two areas of town in which rainwater was causing significant infiltration into the wastewater pipes. The exploratory work that discovered the problem is being funded through a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater grant from the state.

Prien&Newhof estimates the city’s wastewater treatment plant should only be processing 500,000 gallons of water a day. In reality, the base flow through the facility is 1.4 million gallons. Vilmont and his team identified two sections of the system which saw a dramatic increase in water after a rain event. One area is between the alleyway north of Main Street and High Street and the other is along Foreman Street from Beech to Hudson.

Councilmembers were shown a video taken within the pipe along Foreman that showed water leaking into it at every joint. Vilmont said that if these water leaks could be eliminated and the source of the inflow off Main Street could be discovered and corrected, the city could potentially eliminate 320,000 gallons of groundwater from flowing to the wastewater treatment plant every day.

New Purchases Approved

Under new business, Lowell City Council unanimously approved three purchases:

  • $21,799 for a new salt spreader, replacing a 31-year old salter
  • $7,759 for a new lawn mower, replacing a 9-year old mower
  • $15,300 for a new temperature control system in the library, replacing the original system installed in 1994

Canfield noted that his council packet did not include the second bid for the library temperature control system. “I only put the low quote in,” Burns responded. The second quote was significantly more expensive and would not have been covered entirely by a grant the city had received from Lowell Area Community Fund to pay for the purchase.

Canfield asked about the reliability of the system being offered in the low bid, but Burns was unable to answer specifically. “It’s my understanding it’s the updated system for what’s (currently) installed,” he replied.

Committee of the Whole on Recreational Marijuana Scheduled

At the end of the open session, councilmembers went into an approximately 45 minute closed session “to discuss pending litigation.” They emerged from that session without taking any action.

The next City Council meeting will be held on August 19 at 7pm in City Hall. It will be preceded by a Committee of the Whole with the Planning Commission to discuss an ordinance regulating recreational marijuana facilities in the city.

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