Future road projects will see more quality control
By Robert Williams
After making revisions from public input in July, West Central Initiative community planner Celeste Koppe presented the latest version of the Vergas comprehensive plan that was approved unanimously at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Koppe worked with the Vergas Economic Development Authority/HRA on a future land use map, one of the noted additions made prior to the city adopting the document.
Multiple maps were added, along with a vision statement and basic edits.
The comprehensive plan is a living document that will allow for future additions and edits in the coming years.
Mayor Julie Bruhn thanked Koppe and her partner in creating the plan Emily Reno.
“We’re excited to have it and to start using it,” she said.
Koppe also presented an annual review of West Central Initiatives (WCI) noting that Vergas has strong connections in terms of the community foundation and economic planning side of things with WCI.
Koppe presented WCI strategic initiatives, sustainable development goals, and other information, along with a survey on a climate action plan for the region.
Lawrence Lake Acres final plat approved
The Lawrence Lake Acres final plat of four lots was approved after a recommendation from the planning commission. A road through the area is still under negotiation.
Developers will need to return with a final plat once the roadway is determined. Tuesday’s approval allows the lots to be sold and construction to begin.
City’s insurance increases
Sherri Hanson informed the board of an overall insurance premium increase of 28 percent this year. Hanson and city clerk/treasurer Julie Lammers combed through the policy to find deficiencies. For instance, the dugouts at the ballfield that were damaged were not covered in the former policy, before coverage was approved retroactively
The premium increase was due to a number of factors: annual inflation, added locations like the ballfield and others and rating changes. The lift stations and wells were not insured prior to these changes.
“That created an increase of 64 percent right there,” Hanson said.
Municipal liability and liquor liability were two areas of decrease in the premium to balance out some of the increases.
Later in the meeting, a bid for repairs to the two dugouts on the main ballfield were approved.
Water-Sewer fees discussed
The city received a request from a resident to have two-thirds of the resident’s water bill refunded after fees increased due to the resident watering their lawn. The city policy for sewer fees related to water usage states that a separate meter needs to be purchased and plumbed with outside spigots running to the second meter. Water from that meter will not be charged sewage. The cost of the meter, which can be purchased from the city, is $169.38.
The property owner claimed they did not know of the need for a second meter and requested the refund after being surprised at the increase in the sewer bill.
According to Lammers, no prior council has ever approved the refund and the city hears a similar complaint each summer.
The amount of the refund was approximately $70. That refund request was denied unanimously.
Bruhn suggested adding information about water and sewer charges and meters in the newsletter prior to next summer.
Widseth Engineering agreements
The city signed agreements with Widseth Engineering, the city’s engineering firm, to perform a street condition survey.
Widseth will survey the city’s streets and enter the data into a Geographic Information System street management system to present the findings to the council upon completion. The survey will provide data from five to 20 years on future needs from overlay to replacement.
The Vergas street committee has been discussing the survey for the past three years.
A lengthy discussion was had about administration and observation of the Keilley Shores Third Addition project.
The firm will provide oversight on street, sewer, watermain and storm sewer improvements in the addition, along with making sure the project meets the plans and specifications of the city code.
Discussions centered around the need for part-time or full-time administration of the project. Underground projects typically prove difficult when monitored only part time, according to city engineer Jeff Kuhn.
“We can do spot inspections but that is only going to verify the time that we were out there that yes, they were following all the methods that they were supposed to,” he said. “You run the risk of something happening outside of those windows and not being caught until you have a considerable investment put back on top. It’s going to take time, effort and cost to redo what was not done properly, potentially.”
Bruhn asked if the same administration will be done on the Lawrence Lake project. That is likely, as this level of project management is new to Vergas.
“This is a change from what you were doing in the past,” said Kuhn.
That was confirmed by Lammers, stating road projects were inspected at the completion of work by the prior engineering firm.
Both the Vergas street committee and the planning commission recommended the change.
Lammers and Kuhn are also creating a developer agreement for future work in Vergas that could affect who pays for engineering costs. As the engineering process is new, discussions will continue with the streets committee on more specifics.
The Keilley Shores agreement was tabled and sent back to the streets committee for a recommendation.
Utility Superintendent report
The second phase of jetting sewers was done on July 28-29. Three lift stations were also cleaned due to the grease buildup. The lift stations had annual checks by Tri-State pump on Aug. 1.
A public grill was installed at the beach by the boat dock.
Steve’s Sanitation delivered 10 garbage cans that will be leased to the city.
There were three service line water leaks this month—one at Billy’s bar and two on Dianne Ave.
City attorney Thomas Winters announced agreements have been reached considering easements on Townline Road. The total easements for the properties is just under $10,000. Now a city road, the easements were provided so that the city can provide maintenance in the ditch areas and to remove hazards that impede right of way. The agreements on the easements ends discussions between the city and residents of the area that have gone on since February.