Council ready to take next step for sewer project

Posted July 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

Miller’s City Council met July 15 for their second meeting of the month.

Mayor Ron Blachford stated a certificate of appreciation will be awarded to K & K Greenery for 35 years in business. He also commended the Miller Fire Department for their work and vigilance during celebration activities July 4-6.

Sheriff Doug DeBoer and emergency manager Nehemia Volquardsen reported the County Commissioners approved the Hand County Courthouse to be a shelter in case of emergency, and temporary signs are placed showing that designation. They have also approached the Ministerial Association about use of church facilities for short-term shelter sites. A meeting scheduled for July 17 will go into more detail.

Mayor Blachford said the City will have signs placed throughout town (pool, ball field, etc.) listing temporary shelter sites in case of a weather emergency.

Ron Hoftiezer, street department, reported a flagpole has been donated from the former elementary school and has been placed at Crystal Park.

Hoftiezer reported on summer work projects, including spraying weeds, raising manhole covers to reduce unnecessary bumps, and patching potholes. Mosquito spraying has been done, and will continue to be done, and Hoftiezer said people should take extra protection against mosquitoes, as this is the time the carriers of West Nile Virus are out in force. He said the carrier mosquito has a white band on its stinger, and bands on its legs.

Police chief Shannon Speck reported a matron was required to help transport a prisoner, but he was unable to find a pay rate. The council determined that the rate should be the same as the entry-level salary for a police officer.

Finance officer Sheila Coss reported she is working on the budget for the coming year, and also on property/casualty insurance renewal. The council approved purchase of a new computer, which had been budgeted, that will accommodate the new software for municipal accounting.

City sales tax through June shows a 4.93 percent increase over the same time a year ago.

Terry Aaker with SPN & Associates, Mitchell, discussed the state of the City’s water and sewer systems. He told council members that the City has been doing a “band aid” approach, and a long-range plan needs to be put in place.

He said it is necessary to camera (televise) the sanitary and storm sewers, develop a GIS map (geographic information system), and also take a look at the water system. He said such information is necessary in order to look at funding sources.

With Miller’s sewer rate charge at $22 per month, Aaker said he is certain funding would be as a loan rather than a grant, unless rates are raised.

Mayor Blachford said the project should be done in phases, with the cleaning and televising as phase one. The storm and sanitary systems should be considered one project.

Blachford commented, “If we keep fixing only the worst, pretty soon everything will start looking like the worst.” He added that a public meeting(s) should be scheduled to explain the scope and cost of the anticipated projects.

Aaker said some funding could be available by March or June of next year. Jim Bonebright, sewer/water department head, said he would also like to include funding to repair the lift station on the east side of town, which was damaged by the flooding two years ago. Bonebright commented, “We know it isn’t a matter of ‘if’ it will flood again, but rather ‘when’.”

Blachford agreed, noting 60,000 acres of grassland has been broken up over the last decade. “We’re seeing half again more run-off than we saw 10 years ago.”

The council voted to get figures put together, hold a special meeting, come up with a resolution, or whatever else is necessary to move toward the project getting underway. Blachford stressed, “Let’s get this show on the road.”

At 8 p.m., a hearing was held to consider the transfer of the malt beverage license from Highway 14 Fuel Services (G3) to 4 Caballeros, Inc. DBA, Cowboy Country Stores. The transfer was approved. 4 Caballeros is headquartered in Watertown, with convenience stores (Cowboy Country) throughout South Dakota and now in Miller.

A variance hearing was held regarding a request from Jim Anderson, to place a garage beyond the allowed lot line. Anderson said he will have a survey done, and the council approved the variance, based on what the survey shows.

John Irvine, building official with the City of Pierre, and former mayor of Blunt, met with the council to talk about abating buildings.

Mayor Blachford said Miller has a housing shortage, some houses and buildings now standing are substandard, and guidance was sought about how to abate nuisances (taking down run-down buildings).

Irvine said the City has to have a specific housing code in place, which spells out what would be considered a nuisance, and now to deal with it. He said he would be willing to provide guidance if needed, and also gave information about obtaining manual that could be adapted to the City’s needs regarding abatement.

A benefit street dance was approved for the Hondah on August 24 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

The council members discussed the road being constructed just north of the Catholic Church, which will connect the road from the new elementary school to East Eighth Street, a city street. The council’s suggestion would be to have the road going west from the Jerry Johnson residence (904 E. Donlin St.) be a one-way, which would allow residents up to that point two-way travel, but would limit travel going west toward the school to one-way traffic. No action was taken.

Building permits were approved as follows: Jim Anderson, garage; James Welsh, deck; Patricia Van Zee, storage shed; and Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, home.

The next council meeting will be Monday, Aug. 5, beginning a 7 p.m. in City Hall.