City plans $5.6 million bond sale

by April Scheinoha

    The Thief River Falls City Council is calling for the sale of $5.65 million in bonds for the lime sludge management project. Bids will be opened May 2. That matter was approved at the council meeting Tuesday, April 4.
    The General Obligation Bonds will have a 25-year term. They will cover the cost of constructing water treatment ponds, constructing an expansion at the distribution shop, constructing a lift station structure, tuckpointing the Water Treatment Plant, wetland mitigation, and equipment. Water system rates will cover the cost of the bonds.
    Currently, the water treatment ponds are located at the intersection of Pennington Avenue and Nora Street. They have outgrown that location. As part of this project, they will be moved to Section 10 of Rocksbury Township. The property is southeast of Challenger Elementary School.
    In a related, separate motion, the council approved an advisory agreement with Northland Securities. As part of that agreement, Northland Securities will be paid $21,585 for its work related to issuing the above bonds.
    The council approved Task Contract Number 3 with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services. As part of that contract, the firm will receive an amount not to exceed $373,000 for construction engineering and inspection services related to the lime sludge management project. The contract will be covered by the above bond sales. Water system rates will then be used to pay for the bonds.
    City Council approved purchasing 10 Motorola APX1000 portable radios with accessories for the Thief River Falls Fire Department. The city is purchasing the portable radios from Stone’s Mobile Radio Inc. for $21,285.
    Firefighters are currently using older used police radios, which are incompatible with the statewide ARMER radio system. Dispatch is using a “patch” to enable firefighters to communicate with law enforcement, EMS and dispatch on the ARMER system. However, the patch will soon be eliminated.
    As part of its consent agenda, the council accepted an Adopt-A-Court grant. The U.S. Tennis Association Northern Tennis awarded the $10,000 grant to the city to assist in the reconstruction of the Ole Engelstad Park tennis courts. The project, which will be completed this summer, is expected to cost $178,000.
    City Administrator Rod Otterness spoke to the council on the need for performance evaluations of city staff. He noted that taxpayers need to know they are receiving a return on their investment in the city. Otterness indicated that taxpayers can’t pick and choose the services they wish to receive from the city. However, the city still needs to ensure necessary services are being provided effectively and efficiently. Otterness noted that the city’s most expensive and important resources are its employees, who need to give maximum effort.
    Performance evaluations came to the forefront March 8, when a potential performance evaluation of Parks and Recreation Director Joe Amundson was initially on the council agenda. At that time, the council planned to hold a closed session for such an appraisal.
    The item was removed after the Management, Administration, Professional and Supervisory union met with the Labor Committee regarding performance appraisals prior to that council meeting.
    In January 2016, the council changed the city’s organizational chart. As a result, the council serves as the department leaders’ immediate supervisor.
    Council Member Josh Hagen voiced his appreciation for the Norskies organization. He noted the team is a huge asset to the community.
    The council approved an ordinance to amend sign performance standards in zoning districts.
    Directional signs on private property can now measure as much as 24 square feet in the General Business District (C-2). The limit was initially four square feet.
    The next council meeting is scheduled Tuesday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.