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Long Hancock council meeting before setting 2013 levy with three percent increase

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news Morris, 56267
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

A long meeting of the Hancock City Council Monday night focused primarily on personnel and budget items. Council members spent over four hours working out job descriptions and benefit packages for city employees while also trying to come up with a budget for the next fiscal year.

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The meeting began with a presentation from a risk management company with a proposal for helping the city get into compliance with Human Resource and OSHA regulations. Josh Fiske of A.R.M.I. told the council that for $8,400 per year, his company would work with city employees to manage key areas of potential risk. He told the council members that by managing risk areas through preventing law suits, and meeting compliances, they could conserve city finances.

He added that it may be a lot of cost per employee, as the city of Hancock has only four employees. However, the risk is the same as a large city. Later in the meeting, while discussing the city budget, the council members decided against hiring the firm.

The council then moved on to discuss a new vacant building ordinance that will go into effect at the start of 2013. The new ordinance will issue a fee or fine for commercial buildings left vacant for over a year. Some stipulations can avoid the fine such as advertising to sell the building for a reasonable price. The building must also be used for its intended purpose. For example, a former retail business could not be used for storage. The fine for a building standing empty for one year will be $600.

The new golf cart ordinance was also reviewed with some new wording put in place. The ordinance is geared toward the safety of the operators and some of the primary rules will be that drivers must have a valid driver's license, carry proof of insurance and have rearview mirrors.

The council then discussed in detail the duties and job description for the city maintenance position which will be advertised starting this week. This discussion included not only the wage and benefit package but also the requirements that will be placed on the applicants and some of the duties to be included in the job description.

This led to a lengthy budget discussion with a focus on employee benefits, specifically health insurance. Currently there remains only one employee on the city health insurance plan with the situation for the new maintenance employee still unknown. Council members discussed limiting the amount paid by the city for health insurance to $800 per month. This would mean a substantial loss in income for the employees who would be required to pay the balance of up to $700 per month.

The raises for employees and establishing a fund for repairs of city buildings was also part of the budget discussion. Ultimately, it was decided to set aside $20,000 for a building repair fund and give a 1.5 percent wage increase to employees. City Clerk Andrea Swenson was asked to check with other health care providers to see if there would be a plan available at a cheaper rate since there is now only one person on the plan.

Council then, at nearly 11:30 p.m., approved the levy amount at $286,651 which is a three percent increase from last year.

Other business

* The city council members approved a Peddlers License for Stio Roofing and Construction, a company that would like to go door-to-door offering repair work on hail damaged roofs.

* There are still 16 properties that have not passed the sump pump inspection so the city is not able to get final data. Bolton and Menk will be contacted to try to wrap up these last inspections.

* Baling hay at the pond site, along railroad right-of-way and along 7th Street was discussed. It was decided to leave it as is for the remainder of this year but to do more research and visit it again next year, possibly putting it out on bids or a cost share plan.

* Bids were opened for the sale of the orange truck. A bid for $1,500 from Anthony Hoberg was approved.

* There was some discussion about water meters in the old bank, agency and Lawrence building. It was decided that the city will need to find the actual locations for the water meters in order to know who to charge for the meter.

*Flushing of fire hydrants will take place in October.

* Swenson said that the city is now set up with a billing system that will allow customers to pay on line or through automatic payments and also post water meter readings to the system through computers.

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