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City council OKs hiring of four firefighters, raising pay of chiefs

The Chatfield News of Chatfield, Minnesota

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Chatfield City Council members kept house during the Oct. 26 meeting as they granted permission for the hiring of four new firefighters, raised the salaries of the fire department's chiefs and commended the city maintenance supervisor and former water supervisor on an award earned for water treatment.

City maintenance supervisor Brian Burkholder, also a member of the fire department, sat before the councilors to register the request to hire new firefighters Jim Hanson, Titan Haag, Mitch Irish and Dan Funk. The councilors agreed that they would fill the need for the eventual expansion of the department's call territory and ease daytime availability for the existing firefighters.

Next, the chiefs' salaries were given consideration since the chiefs have not been given a raise for quite some time. Councilor Robert Pederson said, "Either we go for it tonight or we sit on it for a while."

The proposal before the council was to increase the pay for chiefs from the current $2,000 salary to $4,000 while first and second assistants would get increases from their $500 salary to $1,000. Also, one person who acted as both a training officer and safety officer was getting $375 for each role, but that position would now have a salary of $750 for each position. The last item was raising the secretary and treasurer, who were making $500 each, to $750.

Councilor Mike Urban observed that the increase was substantial and inquired whether the city and the townships had budgeted for it.

City clerk Joel Young replied that it is "shared 50-50" between the two and that it would incur approximately $1,500 more each year.

"Why are we doubling this right off the bat?" Councilor Ken Jacobson asked. "This should have been taken care of years ago."

Councilor Paul Novotny pointed out that the raises should be given because the more involved someone becomes with the fire department or other paid-volunteer roles, the more "volunteer" it becomes and the less likely that person is to want to remain in a role with "a lot of responsibility but not a lot of money."

The motion to approve the raises passed.

Burkholder presented the 2015 water fluoridation award that Chatfield has received from state water associations, citing that the city received it last year as well for its work in providing fluoride in water for the citizens to maintain healthy teeth. The councilors commended Burkholder and the water maintenance crew for their commitment to producing clean, fluoridated water, then went on to thank Burkholder for overseeing that the city's parks and streets remain clean and well-managed.

"People love the way that it looks down by the park," Mayor Russ Smith remarked. "Can you give an update on what's coming up before winter?"

Burkholder requested permission to attend and send two of his workers to a snowplowing class at Rochester Public Works — which was granted — then spoke of how the city is being prepared for winter. He suggested that residents' basketball hoops be taken down in de sacs and that they lend a hand with other minor tasks, but cited that otherwise, the city crew is ready to keep the streets cleared if snow parking ordinances are observed.

"We're prepared," he commented.

Park and recreation news encompassed discussion about what public parking lots should be used for in light of vendors requesting to park there to sell their goods, and about new picnic tables for the parks. Jacobson introduced talk about the parking lot regulations.

"The park and reccommittee is asking Joel to get (city attorney) Fred (Suhler Jr.) to get an ordinance drawn up," said Jacobson. "We think parking lots should be used for just parking."

No vote was necessary on that matter, so the council proceeded to chat about how to replace its wooden picnic tables with sturdier, lower-maintenance steel models. Jacobson shared that the committee has chosen two, one six feet long and one built for handicapped accessibility, and that committee members hope that eventually, citizens will be inclined to help purchase them, after which honorary or memorial plaques might be placed on them.

Councilor Dave Frank explained that the tables are "similar to what they have at the DQ...steel mesh with rubber around it...all-weather."

Burkholder stated that once the tables are ordered, "We'll put one someplace visible" to allow residents to see it and test its seats and tabletop and decide whether they'd like to donate one or part of one to the city.

Smith's mayor's report addressed the city's proposed 8.67 percent budget increase, as he had recently heard of an area town that was working to whittle down its budget from a much larger number.

"Ours is just under 10 percent...but it's done over time. We've been doing it in increments, methodically, over time," he said.

Young's city clerk's report was about a revolving loan issued to WIT Boyz that was supposed to have the city as the second issuer, but on the documents, the city is listed as the first, instead of the bank being listed first. The council voted to have an amendment made to the paperwork for the loan.

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of prior meetings, payment of city claims, a raffle permit for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and VFW Auxiliary, the 2016 CEDA contract and a pay increase for Chatfield police officer Aaron Miliander.

Chatfield council

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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