By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
City residents have received notice Triax Cable will raise rates effective Feb. 1, but the city disputes the company's authority to do so.
At Tuesday's meeting, City Clerk Betty Zachmann said according to the franchise agreement Triax signed with the city, the company agreed to providing a 60-day notice of a rate increase, and to publish twice in the Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal its intent of such increase.
Zachmann said the rate increase notice was dated Dec. 29 and nothing has been published in the Journal.
"Didn't Triax do this same thing the last time they increased the rates?" Mayor Don Guggemos asked.
Zachmann said Triax did, and a few years ago wrote a letter reiterating the company's agreement with the city. Zachmann said she would send a copy of that letter and a new one to Triax reminding the company of what its obligations are per the franchise agreement.
The franchise agreement with Triax cable expires in August. Zachmann said the council must give the company a 90-day notice if it wants to end the agreement.
The plans and specifications for the new fire hall have been turned over to structural engineer Tibbets Engineering of Glencoe to ready the plans and specifications for bidding.
Architect Paul Jaunich said the plans and specs should be done by mid-February.
Larry Biske of the building committee also requested a running total of the building fund so the department would know what is left, as some expenses have already been paid from it. Zachmann said and end of the year balance sheet should be done soon.
A study has been completed by city engineers Rieke, Carroll, Mueller and Associates (RCM)on the existing sewer system and developed a plan of action to remove excess clear water from the waste water treatment system.
The study was requested due to the problems last year's heavy rainfall caused. In some instances the lift stations could not handle the excess water and sewage backed up into homes. Raw sewage was also bypassed into Winsted Lake.
When rainwater or clear water enters the sanitary sewer system it is called inflow and infiltration (I/I) and must be treated at the waste water treatment plant (WWTP)
According to the study, completed by RCM engineer Cynthia Moller-Krass, the excess water costs Winsted in treatment costs as well as lost treatment plant capacity.
In conducting the study, Moller-Krass reviewed the system's documentation and interviewed area plumbers and excavators to get a general idea of the construction and condition of the existing system.
Illegal sump pumps, those hooked to or emptying into the sanitary sewer system, and illegal roof leaders and foundation drains contribute to the I/I problem.
"There is evidence that both sump pumps and foundation drains may be serious contributing factors to the inflow problem in Winsted," Moller-Krass said.
Moller-Krass recommended the city review and update its sewer use ordinance to be in conformance with the Clean Water Act regarding excessive clear water. She also recommended an economic incentive for property owners to remove any illegal connections to the sanitary sewer system.
Moller-Krass' second recommendation was for the city to develop a public relations and public education program to inform all property owners of the problems with clear water connections to the sanitary sewer.
In addition, the educational program should include information on remove options and possible results if nothing is done. Estimated completion date was April 1998.
Other recommendations were to inspect private property connections and remove a private property sources of I/I, and to develop a preventative maintenance program.