City will hold Ward 4 special election
The Rugby City Council approved a resolution Monday evening to hold a special election to fill the vacant Ward 4 seat.
The seat in question was held by former council member Craig Zachmeier, who resigned mid-December 2014. Zachmeier was quoted as saying in a Dec. 13, 2014, Tribune article that he “did not anticipate the time it would take to research the various subjects affecting the city.”
The election will be held the second Tuesday in June, and the winner will serve time remaining in the four-year term until the next council election for that post.
The council learned that the N.D. Department of Labor & Human Rights dismissed allegations filed against the city’s Public Works department by a former city employee.
Former employee Joel Engeland filed charges in April 2014, citing harassment based on age by city employees Brad Radomski and Troy Munyer.
Radomski, Munyer and public works supervisor Rick Larson were suspended without pay in February 2014, one week after Engeland reported charges to Ward 2 Council Member Dave Bednarz, who then informed then-city auditor Dawn Hauck. Hauck informed then-mayor Dave Cichos and council member (now mayor) Arland Geiszler.
On Oct. 16, 2014, the Labor Dept. determined “no probable” cause in the case, meaning an investigation showed that no discrimination based on age occurred.
“I’m just glad the whole thing’s behind me,” Munyer said.
Radomski agreed with Munyer. “Everything was kind of blown out of proportion,” he said. “It was a lot of unwanted attention.
Larson added that he and Engeland are still good friends.
Engeland said he is still pursuing the matter and is waiting to hear from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if there is grounds for a lawsuit against the city.
The council amended and passed a resolution to transfer money from the infrastructure fund to the water treatment plant fund to pay for filter upgrades being done by Swanberg Construction, of Valley City.
Original estimates done by Advanced Engineering for the repair project were $810,000. However Ward 4 Council Member Terry Wentz said other things at the plant needed to be upgraded or replaced as well, including the chlorination system, air and CO2 valves that are leaking and five heaters – which were put in place in 1999. The council would also need estimates on servicing or replacing an early ’90s air compressor at the plant. The words “not to exceed $900,000” were then added to the resolution.
The council heard reports from the Public Safety, Buildings/Property/Infrastructure and LEC committees, as the Ordinances/Rec, Personnel, Water/Streets/Sewer and Finance committees did not meet in January.
Public Safety – Chamber of Commerce director Shelley Block met with the committee regarding a street dance to be held Aug. 22, 2015, with the Johnny Holm Band as the main act.
The Rugby Fire Department held its annual meeting and elections. David Schneibel was re-elected fire chief, Darin Williams was re-elected as assistant chief and Kelly Bonn was elected secretary.
The city is working on an alcohol and drug-free workplace policy. The city doesn’t currently have one in place, however the Rugby Public School district does, as do most cities. A rough draft has been put together for the personnel committee to review at its next meeting. The North Dakota League of Cities recommends all municipalities have such a policy.
Buildings/Property/Infrastructure – Ward 1 Council Member and committee chairman Neil Lotvedt said there is still some work that needs to be done in the new fire hall. Bartsch Electric still has electrical work to do, and Johnson Plumbing is working on heating systems.
The storm sewer on 1st St NE is a priority project this year, as water coming from the east, west and south is not draining north. Estimates are needed, as is more information from the Pierce County Commission, as 1st St NE is a farm-to-market road.
The project to connect Country Road to the Chalmers Addition has hit a snag as geographical markers, particularly a 1/4 section line, are six feet off from the original survey.
LEC – Wentz, who sits on the Law Enforcement Center board, brought up the LEC meeting held last week. The LEC is expected to receive upgrades to its E 9-1-1 system, and upgrades to the radio system will take place at a later date, pending the results of a state land mobile radio study.
TELEVISED MEETINGS UPDATE
Ward 3 Council Member Joel Berg said he had an update on the possibility of televised meetings. A camera and tripod would cost $700, and once approved all that would be needed was assistance from North Dakota Telephone Company and Midcontinent to have it connected to public access.
A question arose as to whether Bottineau and Devils Lake city councils still broadcast their meetings on local access. According to Devils Lake Mayor Richard Johnson, the Devils Lake City Commission has never broadcast meetings, while the Ramsey County Commission tapes their meetings and puts them on YouTube. Bottineau Auditor Penny Nostdahl said the Bottineau City Council tapes their meetings and airs them on local access the next day. Concerns about audio and visual quality also arose.
Wentz said the city should look into security cameras for city hall, the city shop and the new fire hall.
Mayor Geiszler announced to the council that the city received four applications for the auditor position as of last week. The city hoped to schedule interviews with the four applicants this week.
Previously, Kari A. Pedersen, of Harvey, was hired to fill the auditor position but pulled her application for personal reasons, according to the mayor.
YEAR-END FINANCIALS DISCUSSED
Former auditor Hauck discussed 2014 year-end financials with the council. The final balance for 2014 was $3,239,449.43. The city brought in $9,979,125.34 in total revenues, and had expenses totaling $11,958,984.69.
The city had budget amendments totaling $2,353,523.26 over budget. About $1.65 million of the budget amendments was due to bonding for streets, water and sewer for the Chalmers First Addition.
The city was $450,000 over budget in the fire reserve fund due to a temporary transfer from the infrastructure fund until the bond is completed for fire hall construction. The city was also $122,000 over budget in the water supply and treatment fund due to equipment and chemical costs as well as repairs.
The city was under budget by about $43,000 in the Highway and Streets Fund, about $10,000 under in both the Flood Control and Snow Removal Funds, and $56,000 under in the Economic Development Director Fund.
The council approved a gaming site application by the Rugby Jaycees for a blackjack table and pull tab machines at 3rd Street Station.
The council approved a 2 a.m. closing time on Feb. 27-28 and Feb. 28 – March 1 for I.C. Dubbles, as the Fireman’s Auxiliary will hold a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament there on those dates.
The council approved extending land lease agreements through 2015; a 2013 audited financial statement from Brady Martz; a garbage rate increase of $0.17 per month; JDA minutes and financials; the municipal judges report; minutes from the January 5 meeting and bills paid and to be paid.
– Tribune Editor Tim Chapman contributed to this report
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