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Puetz gets MAC contract

This drawing of the Mitchell Activities Center shows what the building would look like with a second sheet of ice added to the south side. (Courtesy of Puetz Corp.)1 / 2
The proposed second sheet of ice at the Mitchell Activities Center would be added to the south side, or left, of the current building, as seen in this photo. (Chris Huber/Republic)2 / 2

Puetz Corp. will design the second sheet of ice at the Mitchell Activities Center. Monday night at City Hall, the Mitchell City Council approved a contract for architectural services between the city and Puetz Corp. for the MAC addition.

It passed 7-0 with no discussion by the council. Council President Jeff Smith said there was no real reason to discuss the contract again.

The council offered Puetz a contract for architectural services, but not to serve as construction manager-agent, during the Jan. 21 council meeting.

At the time, Mark Puetz said the firm still wanted both, and might consider withdrawing from the $2.5 million project entirely. But it decided to submit a plan for the second ice rink.

While there was no discussion on the contract by the elected officials, it had been debated and argued about for weeks before. The only comments on it Monday came at the outset of the meeting during the public input portion.

Marvin "Buck" Schuldt, of Mitchell, asked why firms that bid $500,000 less than Puetz did not get the MAC contract.

Mayor Ken Tracy said professional services such as architecture do not have to be accepted based on the low bid and can be awarded to the firm that the council feels will do the best job.

He also disputed the $500,000 figure, as did other officials, who said the figure was wildly inaccurate.

"I don't know where he got that number," said Council Vice President Dan Allen.

Buck said he has worked in construction for 45 years and has supervised jobs with dozens of employees. He said he understands the process and was speaking for others who were afraid to speak to the council.

City debt limit

The council heard a report from the Finance Committee, which met before the council meeting to discuss the city's 2012 and 2013 debt capacity limits.

The city is allowed to issue debt up to 5 percent of its assets, and at the end of 2012, Mitchell's total assess value was $678 million, and its debt was $25.6 million, according to Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson. That leaves it with $7.9 million in available debt.

The city's assessed value will increase by $23 million in 2013, Smith said, and $605,000 in debt will be paid down, giving Mitchell $1.7 million more in debt capacity.

"I think it is good Marilyn put this on the agenda to keep this council up to speed with where we are with indebtedness," Tracy said.

He said the city needs to maintain a $5 million cushion in case it needs to borrow money in case of an emergency.

Tracy said the city has used TIFs well to benefit growth and spur economic development. But he noted at its current pace, with the 19th TIF approved Monday night, the city needs to be cautious as it goes into debt.

Ladder truck bought

The council awarded bids for a combination dump truck body and sander and a ladder truck for the Fire Division.

The low bid for the ladder truck was $749,000 from Heiman Inc., of Lyons. It was awarded by a 7-0 vote.

There was another option offered for $35,000 more from the same company for a new truck. Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris was asked by Olson why the city should buy a demo instead of the new one.

Morris said the demo model was loaded with extras, and "all the bugs were worked out of it." He said a similar model would be worth $950,000 to $1 million today.

The 2010 truck was brought to Mitchell and parked in the City Hall parking lot for the council meeting. The city had budgeted $750,000 for the ladder truck, which will replace an aging truck that was held together with "baling wire" and other material, Tracy said in jest last summer.

The newly purchased truck, which has about 50,000 miles on it from its use as a demo, has never been used in a fire. Its ladder will reach the top of Avera Queen of Peace Hospital and the new Dakota Wesleyan University Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center, the tallest buildings in the city, Morris said.

Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg said the current truck might only last another year. The city is hoping to sell it for $10,000 to $20,000 to a small town or someone else who may want the truck.

The low bid for the truck/sander was $26,968.11 from Sanitation Products Inc., of Sioux Falls. The council voted 7-0 to award that bid.

Housing development moves ahead

The council held the second reading of and adopted Ordinance 2425, clearing the way for a new 31-unit housing development near Mitchell Middle School.

The council rezoned property legally described as Lot 10, Block 25, Rowley's Second Addition, from single-family residential district to high-density residential district, and amended the city zoning map.

In coordination with that, the council adopted Resolution 3066, Tax Incremental Financing District 19, for the development. Last week, the Mitchell Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the $243,526 TIF to improve a street, and the city's TIF Committee also recommended approval in January.

The state housing authority still needs to give approval since tax credits are involved, the council was told by Mitchell lawyer Don Petersen. Once that happens, the project will be designed to clear up drainage problems, and to pave up to three blocks of North Montana Street.

Mitchell resident Randy Shank, who spoke against the project when it came before the planners, repeated his concerns about flooding. But the developers, who will put more than $3 million into the project, vowed to ensure any flooding concerns will be alleviated.

TIFs were also discussed and detailed during the meeting, with council members, City Attorney Carol Koch and Petersen all weighing in on how the economic development tool works.

A TIF district uses the new property taxes generated by a development project to pay for public improvements, in this case road infrastructure, in the project area.

The council voted 6-0 to approve both items, with Olson abstaining because of a possible family conflict.

Texting rules tabled

A proposed change to city policies on employees talking and texting on handheld devices while driving was not adopted.

The council passed Resolution 3064 after removing two sections in it which would have amended the city's personnel policy and procedure manual on cell phone use while driving.

Under the proposed new rules, employees would have been prohibited from texting and driving at all times, but could talk on a handheld device when they were outside the city limits in a town, city or county that permitted such actions.

It would have also allowed some city employees to receive $15 per month in reimbursement for the use of their cell phones for city business. It was tabled at the council's Jan. 21 meeting.

Olson said he didn't understand why the rules should change when someone leaves the city.

Corn Palace Director Mark Schilling said employees sometimes need to talk with an entertainer when they are driving. Olson said if a call is that important, the person could pull off the road to take or make the call.

"I don't see why five minutes makes a difference," he said. The council agreed to wait to see if the Legislature acts on a proposed statewide texting-while-driving ban before it takes any action.

It made the same choice last fall when Tracy proposed a complete ban in the city on texting while driving.

What was passed was a policy to continue to allow retired city employees to remain under the city health and dental insurance plan until they are eligible for other insurance programs if they pay all the premiums. Their spouses may also be covered, but no other family members.

Other business

In other agenda items, the council:

Set a Feb. 19 date to conduct a hearing on an application for financing for the Norway lift station project. The city is seeking up to $800,000, either as a grant or a loan. The amount and source will be determined by the state Board of Water and Natural Resources.

The council approved Resolution 3065, which authorizes an application for financial assistance, authorizing the execution and submission of the application, and designating an authorized representative to certify and sign payment requests.

Set a Feb. 25 date to receive and consider bids for recycled asphalt and concrete crushing; golf carts; two greens mowers; and a Soccer Complex mower.

Approved supplemental reappropriations of $350,000 for the ladder truck, and $95,000 for building demolition.

Approved supplemental appropriations of $80,000 for the golf carts; $55,000 for building demolition; $40,000 for greens mowers; and $20,000 for water and sewer on Fifth Avenue.

Held the first reading of supplemental appropriations of $851,000 for the Norway Avenue lift station, and $5,000 for computer hardware.

Approved a Lake Mitchell shoreline restoration agreement for engineering services with SPN & Associates, city project 2013-27.

Approved a utility easement agreement between the city and the state Department of Transportation for the Norway Street lift station project.

Approved a license agreement with Twin Strata for Cloud Array Computer backup services for the Public Safety Department in the amount of $1,800 annually.

Approved an automatic supplement to the General Fund, street and sidewalk construction, in the amount of $180,000 from Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant Funds for the bike path second historic bridge project. The city is bringing in another bridge from an area county and installing it on a new bike path.

Declared as surplus property a Medtronic Lifepak 12 Cardiac Monitor from the Fire Division to be traded toward the purchase of a Lifepak15 Cardiac Monitor.

Approved these raffle requests: Mitchell Aquatic Club, with the drawing to be held on March 3; District 5610 of Rotary International, with the drawing to be held on April 5; and Pheasants Forever, with the drawing to be held on Oct. 18.

Approved pay estimates.

Noted the absence of Councilman Randy Doescher, who was in Pierre for meetings.