This week’s City Council meeting lasted 30 minutes. In that time the board reviewed a number of items as the calendar year is coming to a close. During citizen comments both Perry Beachum and Jake Davenport suggested the city put the income tax initiative back on the ballot and do a better job educating residents. Eric Bartkus also thanked Department of Public Works Director Dan Czarnecki for his action when called about a gas smell on the east side of the city.
The current contract with SUEZ Water Environmental Services, Inc., who manages the water treatment facility for the city, is set to expire on June 30, 2020. City Manager Mike Burns asked City Council for direction on whether to renew the contract or request bids for the service being provided.
Burns indicated while the decision was in the hands of City Council, his recommendation was to continue the relationship with SUEZ as they have provided quality service for decades. He also cautioned whether or not another company would be equipped to manage the facility and if the quality of service would be diminished if a lower bid for the contract was awarded. City Council voted unanimously to extend the contract with SUEZ.
Cleaning and Inspection of Water Plant Well
In keeping with a water theme, the next item before City Councilmembers was cleaning of well #4 at the water treatment plant. The well will be cleaned and the pump within the well will be inspected with wear and tear items being replaced. This well has not been cleaned and serviced since 1990. Funds have already been budgeted for this cleaning, however if issues are found those costs would need to be addressed. Any additional cost would come before council for approval.
Employee Handbook Updated
City Manager Mike Burns presented an updated employee handbook. He indicated one of the first things he did upon starting his position in 2016 was review the handbook. He found it needed revisions which he set out to accomplish. The employee handbook went from 12 pages to 40 pages and now includes guidelines for items including anti-harassment, workplace violence, and social media.
The revised policy aligns with that of Lowell Light & Power and has been reviewed by union labor attorneys. It also follows state and federal requirements. Approval from City Council is needed in order to adopt the new handbook, which was adopted during the meeting.
Police Cruiser Donation
Chief Steve Bukala looked for City Council support to donate a 10 year old police cruiser with 155,000 miles on it to the Kent Career Tech Center (KCTC) rather than trying to sell or auction it off. The vehicle’s estimated value is $1,500 and if sold by auction a portion of the sale would go to the auctioneer.
KCTC would use the vehicle to teach kids participating in their auto mechanics class, which Bukala felt would be a more beneficial use. City Council voted to donate the vehicle to KCTC.
City Manager’s Report
During the city manager report, Burns indicated that the asset management plan being done through a SAW grant is nearing completion and should be presented to Council shortly. Some projects in the plan which looks at infrastructure projects over the course of a number of years.
Burns also mentioned the intent of the city to apply for a Kent County grant to repave Amity. The city previously applied for a grant from the state which was not granted. The county grant is set up to help community development in low income areas. The grant would be similar to the one which was not awarded by the state. The city would contribute $250,000 and an additional $250,000 would be received from the county.
Finally, it was mentioned that a recreational marijuana retailer has been talking with Burns and city planner Andy Moore of Williams & Works about moving into the now location which was formerly the Family Video. The business is going through the application process with the state and should be able to come before Planning Commission within a couple of months.
City Council will meet again on Monday, December 16 at 7pm on the second floor of City Hall. Meeting agendas, packets, and recordings can be found on the Lowell City website. Videos can also be found at the City of Lowell’s YouTube page. Or check in with Lowell’s First Look for recaps following each meeting. This Saturday, December 7 is Coffee with Council. The event takes place from 8am-10am at the Chamber building.