The Beloit City Council met on Tuesday evening, September 5th. John Brummer was on hand to assist City Manager Jason Rabe in discussing plans for future water supply improvements for Beloit.
Rabe and Bummer outlined four possible avenues of action. Option 1 would upgrade and retrofit the current plant while continuing to use water from the Solomon River. The preliminary estimated cost of this option is $6.2 million. Option 2 mirrors option one, but water would be delivered via pipeline from Waconda Lake with an estimated cost of $9.4 million.
Option three would replace the existing plant with a new plant in Beloit while drawing water from the river with an estimated cost of $10.2 million. Option 4 would also bring a new plant to Beloit with water delivered from the lake. This would be the most expensive option at about $14.4 million.
In terms of operation costs, options with water coming from the lake would be significantly more efficient due to the consistency of the water source quality as compared to the river which often fluctuates as water moves through the area from other areas.
Rabe presented mock bills to give a rough idea of how the different plant and source options would impact consumer costs.
On a typical residential account, the increase in service could run anywhere from 10-30 percent. However, Rabe said that consumers would find savings in other areas without the need to purchase bottled drinking water, softener salt or reverse osmosis systems as the quality of the water produced by the city would rival those. He also said the savings for many people on such items could largely offset the increase in utility cost.
In other business, Jay Langely of Clubine and Rettele, Chartered of Salina reviewed the current audit of the city performed by his accounting firm. Langely highlighted pertinent points of the audit. No significant discrepancies were noted.
City Manager Jason Rabe said the East Main project is nearing completion. A walk though of the project was performed and items which remained to be finished or addressed were noted. He expects the work to be done in the next few days.
Rabe also said that fire retardant clothing will soon be ordered for employees in the Electrical Department and at the power plant.
Preliminary planning for upgrading the Westside Park continues. A $5,000 grant was received from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. Fundraising continues and more solid plans for how to best utilize the money are being formulated.
The city is considering a temporary spay and neuter program to reduce the the feral cat and dog population in town. Rabe believes there has been a significant increase, particularly in the number of feral cats in the city. The program is still under consideration, and no official decisions have been made.
A public meeting will be held on September 27 for Strategic Doing. This is a program encouraged by the Dane G. Hansen foundation that communities receiving funds from the foundation will need to conduct in order to remain eligible for future grant funding. Points from the First Impressions results meeting held last month will be utilized in the process. Strategic Doing is a process of collaborating with networks of people to develop and implement strategies and set goals while developing a roadmap to follow for community improvements using the communities available resources. One topic to be discussed in the meeting will be a coordinated slogan and sign program for Beloit. Community Development Director Heather Hartman announced that grant funds have been secured through the Strategic Doing program which will provide $400,000 over the next four years.
Terry Bailey, Mitchell County representative to the Pawnee Mental Health Board of Directors, presented a proclamation declaring September as Recovery Month in the City of Beloit. Mayor Naasz signed the official proclamation.
In formal actions, the council approved participation in the Moderate Income Housing Down-payment Assistance Grant Program. The city expects to receive a grant of $165,000 which is expected to provide down-payment assistance on four new homes in the area up to $275,000 in value.
The Wastewater Department requested permission to purchase a camera unit which would allow closer inspection and constant monitoring of sewer pipes. Currently a pipe must fail before there is any indication that it has a problem. It can sometimes take days or weeks to realize there is a problem. By examining the pipe with the camera system they can diagnose issues and take action before a failure occurs. The cost of the unit, including a trailer to move the system comes with a price tag of $67,500. The council tabled a decision in lieu of obtaining more specific information.
In the work session, discussion continued on the Little Red Schoolhouse. This building was moved to Beloit in 1970 by Harold Boettcher, Maurice McDonald, and Harold Hill. It received extensive renovation work for the Bicentennial in 1976 and was used extensively for a several years. However, little up-keep has been performed since the 1970’s. The structure currently has several issues in need attention.
Rabe identified three avenues to potentially pursue. One would be for a city funded major overhaul of the Little Red Schoolhouse which would include a new roof, new windows, siding and a renovated foundation. This option would cost the taxpayers an estimated $50,000-$60,000 and is not anticipated as being a viable solution.
A second option was would have turned over the building to the Mitchell County Historical Society. However, after expressing interest, the Society determined they do not have sufficient funds to perform the necessary work and continued maintenance on the structure.
Rabe believes a third option holds the most promise. This would be a community based initiative to raise money for the renovation, and to fund ongoing maintenance in the future.
One of the goals would be to have the building open and enable visitors to tour it. In the past, elementary teachers utilized the Little Red Schoolhouse for field trips while having classes in the building for a half day.
Former Beloit resident Jerry Boettcher announced that he, his wife and Boettcher Enterprises would be willing to assist in the fundraising. He said he would willing to match each donated dollar possibly as many as four times over. Boettcher said that a condition of his financial participation would be that a mechanism be in place for the long-term care and maintenance of the building