By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN The first Waverly City Council meeting of 2011 brought new committees, wages, council appointments, and fees.
Wednesday’s special session started with the swearing in of Mayor Connie Holmes, as well as council members Ben Duske and Ken Antil.
Duske has served on the Waverly Fire Department for eight years, but this is his first time on the Waverly City Council.
“I grew up in this community and I want to see this community remain strong,” Duske stated in a voting guide before the election. “I have three small children and want them to grow up here, as well.”
Holmes and Antil are both familiar with Waverly city government, and hope to make good decisions regarding Waverly’s finances, as well as attract new businesses to the area.
Holmes was on the council for two years, and Antil served as a council member for six years and as mayor for two years.
Because Holmes vacated her council seat to become mayor, the City of Waverly is now seeking a new council member to fill her vacancy, which will expire Dec. 31, 2012.
Interested residents can submit a letter and resumé to the Waverly City Clerk, PO Box 189, Waverly, MN 55390. The deadline for submission is Wednesday, Jan. 26, and questions regarding the position can be directed to clerk Deb Ryks at (763) 658-4217.
Commissions, committees, and other council appointments will be finalized at the regular Jan. 11 council meeting, but the list was informally approved Wednesday.
Holmes proposed a few new committees to focus on local school connections, the Montrose wastewater plant, the municipal liquor store, and the city budget.
The budget committee will be especially needed, according to Holmes.
“We’re going to have a really tight budget this year,” Holmes said. “We’re probably going to have to do some budget revisions midstream.”
Stinking sewer fund
One of the major issues with Waverly’s budget has been the sewer fund.
In the past, the city has had “summer sewer rates,” so that residents who water their lawns weren’t charged for sewer costs on that usage. Instead, the cost was based on their winter water usage.
“It is really costing us a ton of money, and our sewer fund keeps going deeper into the red,” Holmes said.
In an effort to recoup this cost, Waverly will not be having a “summer sewer rate” this year.
Residents who don’t want to pay the full sewer amount have the option of purchasing a $475 meter, which will track the amount used for irrigation.
“It’s regretful, but we just don’t have a choice,” Holmes said.
More fees, please
Another way the city is hoping to help the budget is through an increase on rental fees for the village hall.
The previous charge of $200 (with one free usage for civic organizations) wasn’t enough for the city to break even, according to maintenance supervisor Jim Woitalla.
“I just look at our fuel bill, how much we lose each year just to keep it warm enough so the pipes don’t freeze,” Woitalla said.
The clean up cost is also substantial, he added.
“Everyone thinks they do a good job of cleaning, but they don’t,” Antil said.
The council raised the rental fee to $250 for residents and $300 for non-residents.
“Residents are more likely to take care of the building, since it’s theirs,” Antil said.
Late utility bills have also been a concern in Waverly, so the council decided to implement a 1.5 percent late fee, with a 30-day grace period.
“It’s not much, but maybe it’ll make people think,” Holmes said.
Council wages were reviewed, and raises of $1 to $1.50 per-hour were given to all permanent city employees.
Woitalla’s new wage is $26.47 per hour, and Ryks is paid $25.84 per hour.
Employees who work more than 25 hours per week were also given pro-rated paid sick leave, holidays, and vacation time.
Total staff wage costs are $251,100, which is still under the total budgeted amount, according to Holmes.
“The employees got a raise last year, but before that, they hadn’t gotten one in three years,” she said.
“I still think we’re playing catch up here,” Antil added.
Potential injury claim
In other business, the council heard that the City of Waverly received a potential claim for an injury that took place at the Waverly Fire Station Oct. 20, 2009.
A woman named Tammy Louise Fandel filed a complaint stating that she fell and received damage to her L4-5 disk, which may require surgery.
According to Ryks, the fire department has separate insurance, since it is an independent corporation and is not part of the City of Waverly.