Mayor Mike Holliday called the scheduled meeting of the Nokomis City Council to order on Monday, March 22, with Commissioners Ann Brookshire, Louis Stauder, Derek Durbin and Jocko Nash, along with City Clerk Rachel Hill all attending the meeting live. In addition to live guests, Zoom internet connection was offered for other visitors.
The council heard a presentation prepared by Roger Nuxoll of the Farnsworth Group with regard to major work with the water department. After providing reports and other material to each council member, the representatives from Farnsworth explained the numbers shown were based on the most “pessimistic” view of the scope of work to be undertaken. He added that the city was in control of how much they wanted to do for work and this was the opening discussion of what they were about to embark upon and then they could narrow the focus on what they specifically wanted to do. The “pessimistic” view contained everything that might be done and the means by which it was financed.
He explained the process all went through the EPA, and they require a project plan in such a way that it makes it similar to a loan application. He said EPA provides 30- and 20-year loans with interest rate reductions or even principal forgiveness, “but nothing is guaranteed until you put something in,” and one of the first things to be looked at will be a water rate increase ordinance, “because the EPA will want to see this ordinance and say, ‘ok, if we give you this money, how are you going to pay it back?’”
He said the city could have Nuxoll put together a plan of the work to be done with the primary item appearing to be the 100-year old water main along Route 16 and rerouting it under the state right-of-way and then possibly include maintenance items at the water treatment plant, like the media, filters, and also the softeners at the 22-year-old plant to upgrade it and improve the quality of water. Along with the maintenance items, the broad initial report included work on the detention tank, which was showing signs of deterioration.
He explained the additional work after the water main project was included in the initial report in case they chose to include it in the application in order to take advantage of the EPA financing.
The representative stressed that everything presented was a draft until it was bid, but the first step in moving forward was the water rate increase ordinance. He said generally communities everywhere do not charge enough to cover the true cost of production for their water departments, so the EPA needed to see that steps had been taken to repay the loan.
Nuxoll summarized that a new contract for water with Coalton and the new water ordinance were good signs to the EPA that Nokomis was serious amongst a multitude of communities seeking funding and referenced an approximate timeline Farnsworth had put together for the project.
The council then informed representatives of the county that Nokomis was not interested in taking over and taking care of a three-quarter-mile section of East Union Street as a part of the county project to widen the Fillmore black top to Route 16. Durbin told the representatives that in researching the possibility, it had been determined the city would receive no additional MFT funds for upkeep of the road and that it could siphon off as much as one fiscal year of MFT funds to adequately maintain it.
The county representatives predicted the section of road would not require as much maintenance as the city claimed after the county had finished their project. They also suggested the city could place weight limits on the road and install additional stop signs to reduce wear and tear on the road. Durbin countered that those actions would then require additional policing costs to enforce.
“We just can’t take it on right now,” Durbin said on behalf of the council.
Earlier in the meeting, Joann Keele gave a report to the council regarding Nokomis’ participation in the Montgomery County bicentennial. She said in addition to in-town items she would be submitting a bill later for the historical display. She explained that all 20 communities in the county would have a display at the county fairgrounds at Butler. She said she would do her best to keep costs down in preparing the Nokomis display.
Nash asked Keele about street banners. She said the bicentennial committee could not give away street banners due to the expense. She mentioned that she was impressed with some vertical banners that were available and was considering approaching the bank about the possibility they might donate for the cost of one.
Brookshire said, “If the bank donates one, we’ll donate one.”
Brookshire updated the council on the pump repair at the water plant telling them the work was started and the repairs should be completed in three to four weeks. Nash asked if that included the motors as well and Brookshire said she would confirm the time frame included both.
Nash made a motion to approve a building permit for an attached garage at 523 W. Franklin. He said he had viewed the site and everything appeared to be in order. Durbin seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
During the new business section of the meeting, Holliday presented to the council a request from the homeowner for reimbursement for the installation of a backflow prevention device at 504 Water Street. The mayor added he thought homeowners were responsible for items installed between the city lines and the home. Hill said it had been done once before and that there was previously a line item that allowed for the reimbursement. Durbin wished to confirm the line item and made a motion to table decision on the reimbursement until the April 12 meeting. Nash seconded the motion and the council approved unanimously.
Stauder reported revenues of $110,090.56 and bills in the amount of $53,241.26. Durbin made a motion to pay the bills and Stauder seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
Durbin made a motion to close executive session at 7:54 p.m. The council reentered regular session at 8:38 p.m. and Durbin made a motion to hire Leonardo Hernandez as a full-time police officer for the City of Nokomis effective immediately. The motion was seconded by Brookshire and approved unanimously by the council.
Brookshire made a motion to hire Dylen Holtsman as the water supervisor. The motion was seconded by Nash and also approved unanimously by the board on a roll call vote.
Brookshire then made a motion that the city raise the salary of the city treasurer to $500 per month. Stauder seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Durbin made a motion the city accept the resignation of Karri Spence effective March 31. Stauder seconded and the council approved unanimously.
Brookshire made a motion to adjourn at 8:41 p.m., Stauder seconded and the council approved.