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City of Hancock looking better financially

Hancock’s city finances saw some improvement last year, but are still in need of careful diligence in maintaining a healthy fund balance. Auditor Dave Euerle presented the 2013 city financial report to the city council members at their meeting on Monday night. Euerle told the council members that the future looks bright but it will still take time to climb out of the budget concerns experienced in recent years. He cautioned them to stay aware of the major payments that need to be made each year on the sewer pond loans. As long as there are  no significant repairs to the ponds, the fund balances should stay in good shape.

Euerle also stated the part of the reason the general fund balance looked better was because a separate garbage fund was set up last year. This reflected a drop in general fund expenses so therefore, the fund balance increased. However, the garbage fund had a negative fund balance and Euerle questioned whether the city is charging enough for the administration costs of sending out the bills each month. Currently a 25 cent fee is added to cover this cost but this may not be enough. Also included in the administration costs are the dumpster fees during clean-up days and some other office expenses. He told the council members that since the garbage costs to the city are fixed, it should be easy to determine what the administration costs are during the year.

He added that there were no real ‘red flags’ in the report but advised council members to look at certain reports each month and monitor what is billed versus what is collected. The council approved the report as presented.

Personnel reports

The council then heard reports from city personnel. City attorney Carl Thunem had nothing significant to report. He will be deployed soon and during his absence the county has hired a temporary assistant, Tim Rudquist.

City Clerk Jodi Bedel told the council that she had been asked to compile a charge and letter for the cost of run-off water going into the sanitary sewer system at the old bank building. This letter will be sent out soon.

The Pet Clinic went well with 52 tags purchased. The new city pickup will be arriving this week and the city will be putting the old pickup out for sale on sealed bids due June 6.

John Jepma reported that most of the work in the city shop has been completed. He will be working on getting running boards, tool box and box liner on the new pickup. He is also planning to get some gravel to put in city alleys.

Ryan Mogard asked the council about Engebretson Disposal dumping waste from their porta- potty business into the city ponds. The council approved this and Engebretson will be charged $50 per load.

Steve Henriksen reported on his first days as the part time police officer and stated that things were going good thus far.

The council members then discussed a letter received from Riley Brothers about the demolition of the old Owls Nest building. The letter addressed most of their concerns and the only issue was what would be done with the empty lot. Councilman Bob Staples and Jeff Kisgen expressed concerns that it not be made into another parking lot.

Mayor Bruce Malo stated that HEDA had been discussing several options including a possible park. The lot will be owned by the city after the demo and the council members will have some say in what happens there. With this concern addressed, the council approved the bid from Rileys to demo the building with half to be paid by the county.

Rental ordinance

A report from the Health and Safety committee working on the rental ordinance was presented to the council members in their packets. Some of the concerns had been settled by the committee and others had not. One of the biggest obstacles was the inspection challenges with rules set in the ordinance. The committee meetings were found to not be as helpful as hoped and the task has now been left back in the council members hands. The issue was tabled once again by the council.

Several zoning permits were discussed and approved before the meeting was adjourned.