Weekly Memo 1-18-13

Each Weekly Memo to the City Council and the agenda packet is also provided on the City Council web page.

WEEKLY UPDATE:

Citizen Request Tracker

The City has released its beta version of Citizen Request Tracker online.  Through the new module, users can send a request directly to City Hall from their desktops, iPhone, or even through the Facebook app.  From the City’s home page, www.egf.mn, one can click on the “Report a Concern” button on the left border.  iPhone users can download the mobile app from iTunes by searching for “Citizen Request Tracker.”  And, the Facebook app is available at http://apps.facebook.com/requesttracker.   Citizen Request Tracker requires a one-time registration.  We will continue to add functionality to the module.  We welcome and appreciate your input during this trial stage.

Blue Line Arena Sound System

Last weekend, the Blue Line Arena’s new audio system was greeted with warm reviews from the attendees.  Activity in the City’s winter recreation programs has continued to expand over the last few years.  All of the arenas, including the Blue Line Arena, continue to see more activity, including competitions.  The Blue Line Club and the Northern Lights Figure Skating Club recognized the need for a full audio system in the Blue Line Arena to supplement this increased activity.  Therefore, the project was completed with the input and financial participation of the clubs.  All seem very happy with the results.

LGA formula

As presented at this week’s work session, House Research released a preliminary estimate of 2014 Local Government Aid (LGA) levels based on current law.  If the current law holds, 2014 will be the first time in many that that the state actually will use the established LGA formula for distribution, albeit with decreased funding.  This follows several years of previous unallotments, cuts, and freezes.  East Grand Forks would lose at least 86,000 with no other changes due to overall decreases in LGA funding and to demographic shifts in the City.  These cuts would be ongoing, and they are on top of the funding decreases that have already occurred since 2008.  Even without the proposed cuts, the City receives $600,000 per year less than it did in 2007, which was already cut from 2003 levels.

LGA funding and potential formula changes likely will be a major topic in the current legislative session.  For example, there is talk about remove the annual maximum that a City can gain or lose in LGA funding.  If that scenario was implemented, the City would lose two thirds of its funding, or over $1.5 million.  The House research report is attached to this memo and can be found at: www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/2014prelim.pdf.  Two figures displaying recent LGA trends is also attached.

Labor Negotiations

The City’s labor negotiation team met with two groups this week, with several more meetings scheduled in the next couple of weeks.  We have not yet reached any tentative agreements.  All of the five labor agreements representing city employees expired on December 31, 2012.

LaFave Boat Ramp

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials contacted the City regarding preliminary plans for replacement and expansion of the LaFave Park (Catfish Days) boat ramp.  The state is beginning survey work soon.  Design of the ramp and surrounding area likely will be ready for a spring 2014 bidding.  In 2013 budget discussions, the City Council opted not to spend local design funds in order to expedite the project for the 2013 season.

Reminder: City Hall and most city operations will be closed Monday, January 21st to observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Also, the Council will meet in the Chambers at 4:00 pm Tuesday for the new council photographic session.

DEPARTMENT REPORTS:

Parks and Recreation, Dave Aker

As you may already know we had a compressor go down last Thursday at the Civic Center just before 4:00 pm.  I was called over there at 4:30 pm with Brian Larson and Alex Barta, from Barta Refrigeration, and they turned the compressor on we heard loud banging noises that sounded like a broken piston or crankshaft.  The reason the compressor shut down was the oil pressure had dropped, anyways that night Alex took the oil pressure down so he could work on the compressor the next day.  On Friday he changed a piston from the spare parts we have from an old compressor, put the used piston in and started it up.  It ran for three hours before we lost oil pressure again.  He then took the oil pump off the old compressor and put it on the compressor and that didn’t work either.  He then took a spring off the old compressor and put it on the oil relief pressure and the oil sprung out all over.  He then put a shaft seal on and that seemed to work, it has been running since Monday night at 9:30 pm.  We are not out of parts for the Frick compressor, they don’t make parts for that compressor anymore, this spring he have to put the Vilter compressor in that we have had for 15 years.  If the Frick compressor makes it the of the season we are looking at roughly $10,000 to install it.     

Police Department, Chief Mike Hedlund

Winter Weather Driving –

Our recent weather has resulted in very slippery roadways (and driveways, sidewalks and parking lots).  The subsequent snowfall can often cover patches of shear ice that can be very dangerous.  Whether you are driving or walking take a little extra time and arrive safely at your destination.

The winds in our area can make driving conditions very hazardous, even with relatively little snow on the ground.  If you need to travel plan ahead and bring extra clothing, boots, blankets or sleeping bags as well as some emergency food and water.  It is also a good idea to make sure someone knows when and where you are traveling and what time you expect to be at your destination.

Snowmobile Regulations – Snowmobiles are NOT allowed on the city’s Flood Control Levees!

Our recent snowfalls have been very welcome by winter sports enthusiasts but the new snow also creates a few problems.  The dikes used as part of the city’s flood control system are easily damaged and snowmobiles are not allowed to be driven on them.  Snowmobiles may be driven within the city limits in a very limited manner.  Snowmobiles may be driven on city streets if they are driven at speeds under 10 MPH and are kept close to the right hand curb or road edge.  Snowmobiles are NOT allowed to be driven on any public property, including schoolyards, parks, playgrounds and recreation areas unless such areas have been declared as official snowmobile trails/use areas by the city council.  The complete city ordinances as related to snowmobile usage may be found at www.egf.mn in the Traffic section of the Municipal Code.

Public Works, Jason Stordahl

Streets

With the recent snowfall and winds staff has been busy with snow removal.  We have been sand/salting streets as best we can, but there is still a good layer of ice on some streets do to the recent rain.

Wastewater

We finally received the go ahead from MPCA to implement our odor neutralizing system at lifts 4 and 5.  Lift five has been installed and working since Tuesday.  Installation at lift four will be delayed due to design differences in buildings.  We hope to see some results very soon.

Library, Charlotte Helgeson

The East Grand Forks Campbell Library has received a $10,000 grant from Northwest Minnesota Arts Council to bring in authors, workshops and summer reading presenters.  These activities will be funded, in part, by this grant from the Northwest Minnesota Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

The EGF Campbell Library is also working on a Legacy funded grant in cooperation with Northland to provide an Arts in the Park event in June at Sherlock Park.  Details are being finalized.

The Friends of the Campbell Library have placed a sign above the front entrance to the library with the intention of identifying the building from DeMers Ave. This was part of a signage project that included a long overdue plaque to identify the “Good Friends” brick relief to the left of the front door. The Friends work and attention to detail is much appreciated!

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