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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Butterfield City Council amends two ordinances during regular meeting

  • Butterfield City Council will be making a policy change that will affect how delinquent water bill letters are sent.
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  • Butterfield City Council will be making a policy change that will affect how delinquent water bill letters are sent.
    The policy in place gave residents with delinquent bills 10 days to make an effort to pay those bills before they were notified by the city. City council members voted unanimously Monday night to cut down that notification time to five days.
    “I really think we need to change that down to five days, the time we send out that delinquent notice out – that they have the opportunity to get in here to pay it or make arrangements to pay it – and that’s just a policy that we have,” said Council Member Howard Madson.
    Madson went on to say that the city has been losing money by people not paying their bills and then skipping out of town, leaving only their deposit behind. With the 10 days waiting period, residents could have up to three months of unpaid utilities charges before their water would be shut off. At that time they can leave – skipping out on sometimes more than $500 in bills. With this change, the city hopes to avoid that issue in the future.
    The Butterfield preliminary levy was approved by the city council unanimously during their regularly scheduled Sept. 9 meeting. The total levy amount for 2014 at the preliminary stage is $154,288.
    Levy funds that have increased include the general fun, which has increased from $7,500 last year to $10,000 this year and a new parks and recreation budget which will start at $8,000 for repairing parks and trails. The EDA funds were levied at $8,000 less than last year and with bond repayment, this year’s maximum levy is already slightly less than last year’s final levy.
    There will be a public meeting and reduction to some of the levy funds in the upcoming months as the budget is finalized and submitted in December.
    There was some discussion over the possible switch of electrical providers to the city of Butterfield during the regular meeting.
    Currently, the city is serviced by Excel Energy, but since Excel is located some distance from the town, response time has been slow in an emergency situation.
    Though a complete switch to another electrical company doesn’t seem to be an option, the council members would still like to pursue an agreement, by which closer utility companies could perform emergency fixes as needed ­– thus fixing the problem regarding the slow response time.
    Special Session
    Butterfield City Council met in a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 2 p.m. to discuss a few time sensitive items.
    First on the agenda was the process of filling the maintenance supervisor position which has been vacant since June. There were three applicants for the position, but Brandon Winch from Truman Minn., fit the position best, according to the selection committee.
    Page 2 of 3 - Winch is described as mechanically inclined, however he does not have his CDC license. It is a requirement of the position to have the license, so Winch will be asked to pay for that class and receive his license. The city council expects Winch to begin the process of being licensed within the first 30 days of his employment – which should begin in about two weeks.
    His hire was not unanimous, as he received a reluctant yes from Council Member Madson and a no from Mayor Ken Pankratz.
    The council then moved on to the difficult task of organizing a pay system for the position. Council members tried to act proactively to avoid similar problems in pay equity that occurred earlier this spring.
    “My thoughts are if you put this base rate any lower than $14.50 you won’t get anyone to apply,” said council member Doug Meyer.
    Base pay for the position will be $14.50 with bumps for each license obtained to the Class C Sewer license. Performance raises are also a possibility based on how well an individual is completing their responsibilities.
    Pay steps for other employees have not yet been created, however, the city has moved forward by creating job descriptions. During the October meeting, council members hope to have pay steps in order for all employees.
    The classes for the new licensure will be paid for by the city with the exception of the CDC license. There were two ideas about what the city would require for taking on the expense. The first, from Council Member Jim Warwick, stated that if the city was to pay for the classes, there would be something in the contract that would require the employee to stay with the city, or pay the city back for the classes upon leaving. Council Member Madson said the cost of the classes were the cost of doing business, so it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the employee to pay back the city, should another opportunity arise. It was also mentioned that since city employees are considered ‘at-will’ employees they would not be required to have a contract so it would be impossible to enforce the proposed contractual requirements.
    An agreement for the construction of a transference system under a city street by a private citizen was entered into by the city of Butterfield as approved by council members last Tuesday night.
    The elevator will use the grain conveying air system only during the period of harvest, and if there are legitimate complaints from the community, the operation of the system will be limited to the hours between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. The street will be maintained and repaired following the installation of the system by the owners of the elevator. With the understanding of this contract, the council agreed unanimously to approve the construction.
    Page 3 of 3 - The council also agreed unanimously to approve the first reading of two ordinances. The first had to do with the operation of golf carts at night. It reads:
    “The operation is from one half hour after sunrise to one half hour before sunset, except for golf carts having headlight and rear light or reflectorized slow moving vehicle signs on the rear of the golf cart may be operated before sunrise and after sunset.”
    The second amendment was in regard to the setback for fencing and hedges. It reads:
    “Side yard setbacks shall be five feet except for fences and/or hedges, then the setback shall be two feet from the property line and less than two feet upon the written consent of the adjacent property owner.”
    The written concent for the reduced setback will be stored at city hall.
    The Butterfield City Council held a second reading for two ordinances which were amended during the special session during their regularly scheduled meeting, Sept. 9.
    Other Business:
    The price for rock was voted to increase to $40 per load by the Butterfield City Council Monday, Sept. 9. This is double the last fee.
    The city of Butterfield will be accepting bids for hay as advertised.
    Butterfield has agreed to join the MMUA at the cost of about $250 annually.

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