Storms, labor and budget-related tasks for Aberdeen City Council

Discussion about the series of strong storms predicted to occur through the weekend dominated the Aberdeen City Council meeting Wednesday night. Only a couple of residents attended.

Information from the city about the storms was planned to come out today, but some details were presented Wednesday. City staff met late in the afternoon to make final preparations for the weather events.

“We’re ready and have a plan in place,” said Kyle Scott, the city’s wastewater systems manager.

Work in ditches around the city for water to flow efficiently has been going on for the past couple of weeks.

There will be sand available in a couple of locations around the city for people to make sandbags to protect their property. One will be on the south side of the city and the other outside of the Water Department shop.

“This is a significant storm,” said Council member Tim Alstrom. “We don’t know how severe a storm this is going to be.”

Alstrom heads the Public Safety Committee and has advice for residents: Don’t go outside to clean up debris until the storm is over and don’t use generators indoors.

“People die in storms every year,” he emphasized.

New police guild contract approved

The 2017-19 labor contract with the Aberdeen Police Guild was approved.

Mayor Erik Larson noted that while this was the first city employee labor agreement he helped negotiate, it was the second police guild he has signed since taking office in January.

While this one “went well,” he said. “I signed the last one because it took so long to come to a resolution.”

The contract that was scheduled to end in 2013 went into arbitration to resolve an array of issues, including work hours and health care payments, according to previous reports.

There will be 1 percent pay increases across-the-board on Jan. 1, 2017, and Jan. 1, 2018. On Jan. 1, 2019, there will be a 2 percent increase, said Mike Folkers, the city’s finance director.

Some city permit fees to rise

City Council members approved a resolution setting new permits fees effective today.

There will be a $50 driveway permit application fee; an $85 late-inspection fee and a $5 technology fee added to the cost for building permits.

The driveway application fee is new and the late-inspection fee is something that will be charged after concrete is poured. The separate driveway permit fee will remain.

City Attorney Eric Nelson pointed out that the inspection is supposed to occur before concrete is poured.

The technology fee was recommended by the Public Works Committee and will help support permitting operations.

No hike in 2017 tax levy

The city of Aberdeen is expected not to increase its regular property tax levy amount for 2017.

The levy ordinance states the city’s levy amount this year was more than $2.9 million.

A 2002 Fire-Refunding bonds special levy is exclusive and will total $76,541 collected.

A public hearing on city revenue sources will be held on Oct. 26. Additional revenues are anticipated because of “new construction, improvements to property, new wind turbines, increased value of state-assessed property” and any annexations and refunds, the staff report stated.

This was the first reading of the ordinance and was approved by the council members. Final reading is expected to be on Nov. 9.

MIA council member absent again

Council member Alice Phelps missed her fourth council meeting in a row after a car accident this summer left her injured.

Her absence was excused Wednesday, but some of the council members showed signs of impatience.

“I don’t think we should keep excusing her,” said Council member Tawni Andrews.

Council president Peter Schave said he’ll talk to Phelps before the next meeting.