Council approves water rate hike to begin with February usage

Posted January 16, 2013 at 11:52 am

Miller’s City Council held its first meeting for 2013 on January 7.

Mayor Ron Blachford commended City employees and council members for the time and input they devoted to addressing and preparing the City budget.

Fire chief Steve Resel reported several firefighters have been participating in Incident Command System (ICS) fire training, and are gaining skills using “smoke house” training in a donated house. He said the firefighters are enjoying the “actual simulation” aspect, and is the first time they have had that opportunity in about a decade.

He reported the floor heating system in the fire hall is now working well. The fire department has received some generous donations that will help their budget, he said.

Darryl Chapin presented a plat request for 17 acres surrounding the original Wilber Ellis plat. Because the land is within the three-mile boundary of Miller, the City as well as the County must approve. The council approved the request, contingent on approval by County Commissioners.

Discussion was held regarding employee performance evaluations, as called for in the City policy manual, but which haven’t been implemented in several years. Councilwoman Mary Johnson made a motion to follow the policy manual and hold performance evaluations, seconded by councilman Tony Rangel.

Mayor Blachford commented that if the City follows through on holding evaluations, he wants all committee members to be present for an evaluation. “I want every committee member participating,” he stated. Water/sewer/airport head, Jim Bonebright, said he was “all for” having evaluations, and police chief Shannon Speck said he would favor trying the evaluation system for one year. The council voted in favor of the motion.

Three resolutions were read and approved.

The annual salary listing, which includes the three-percent cost of living increase was approved.

Also approved was a resolution providing a surcharge for payment of the revenue bond for improvements to the City’s water system. The surcharge is $3.94 per user per month, Bonebright explained, and will automatically be included as part of the user’s bill. The resolution calls for “automatic repeal” of the surcharge when the borrower bond is paid in full.

The third resolution, listing the new, increased water rates, was read. Bonebright said the rates would be effective with the February 2013 usage. He said the minimum bill for residential customers would be $24.50. “Anything less, we (the City) can’t pay the Mid-Dakota charge.”

That resolution was also passed, and the three resolutions will be in the City’s minutes to be published January 30 in The Miller Press.

The council approved Bonebright’s attendance at the annual membership meeting of the S.D. Association of Rural Water Systems January 8 and 9 in Pierre, and for Terry Manning on January 9.

Also approved was Bonebright to attend the annual Water and Wastewater Association meeting February 13-14 in Rapid City.

Bonebright told the council that Titan Machinery has offered a New Holland bi-directional tractor for the airport. The City would be responsible for only insurance, fuel and the rate of $12.50 per hour when used. The tractor would be under warranty, and it could be used by other City departments, as well as at the airport. The council gave approval to go ahead and pursue an agreement.

The council approved a 50-cent-per-hour raise for officer Wayne Ames, who has completed his probationary period with the police department. The raise does not include the automatic cost-of-living increase.

Also approved was a request to place signage in the Seventh Street-Third Avenue area, to alert drivers regarding a visually impaired child who lives in the vicinity, and walks to school.

Two persons were hired for snow removal duties, when necessary, and the council authorized advertising for summer employees.

Finance officer Laura Smith reminded council members who are up for re-election to tell her if they will or will not seek another term. Petitions may begin to be circulated January 25.

Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 21, the next council meeting will instead be held Tuesday, Jan. 22, beginning at 7 p.m.