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Social media question faces Hancock city council

Does a community need to be on social media? This was a question faced by Hancock city council members at their meeting on Monday night. Since the City of Hancock has had a Facebook page for some time now, the primary focus was whether it is needed and how it affects the city.

Last month at their meeting, the council members decided to stop the Facebook page. The city has a web site and council members felt that this was the best source for information, not social media. However, following that decision, several people brought up concerns to the council members and City Clerk Andrea Swenson.

One of these concerns was that the city was actually taking a step backward when it comes to modern technology. The Hancock Economic Development Authority has worked hard to set up the web site and the Facebook page in order to keep the city current with the times.

Council members questioned the benefits of the Facebook page and also the possible negative aspects. While there have been no negative postings on the page, friends and, sometimes friends of friends, have the opportunity to possibly post negative comments about the city and/or city employees. This is something that the council members did not want to see happen.

It was mentioned that many people who have ties to the community like to use the page to stay current on events. However, this can also be done by checking out the city web site.

It was decided to have the city clerk do one last posting on the Facebook page indicating that, as of a specific date, the city will no longer be posting things to the page. People interested in information on the city will be encouraged to visit the city web site -

The council members also heard the audit report for 2012 with some good news yet a bit of caution. David Earle presented the report and noted that city funds were in good condition for normal operations. He stated that the sewer fund, which in the past has been in the negative, was showing some profit. It is still not in great shape but is improving. It is still not profitable enough to pay off the debt so the city will need to continue the tax levy to help make these payments.

“Overall, the city is in good shape,” stated Earle. “There is no financial hardship. However, you should look at plans for projects down the road. You can’t afford to just throw out $150,000 for one project.”

Other action

* City Attorney Neil Simonson encouraged the city to create a policy and fee for conditional use permit applications. He suggested getting a copy of what the county does and adapting it  to fit the city.

* Police Chief Matt Flogstad told the council members that he is starting to work on plans for the July 4 celebration and working with Inn Like Flinn’s for the street dance. The Morris taxi will be in Hancock that night to give rides for only $5 per person.

* Water/Sewer Director Ryan Mogard reported that he has discharged pond three for the second time this spring. He explained that the wet weather has caused a large flow into the pond. The normal level for this time of year is 11” but this year the level went to 21.” This is a sign that water which should be going into the storm sewer system, is going into the sanitary sewer system. The city had hoped to alleviate this problem with the sump pump regulations but there seems to be another way the water is getting in. The next step is to do smoke testing of some lines to see if they are connected to the sanitary sewer. It was decided to do this on some of the lines in the downtown area.

* Maintenance Director John Jepma reported on the mowing and other work being done this month. Several bids were received for tree removal and the bid from Tip Top Tree service was approved. The council members would like Jepma to ask them to sort some of the larger pieces at the burn site and perhaps allow people to take these for firewood. The smaller pieces can then be burned but the larger pieces do not burn as well unless cut up.

* City Clerk Andrea Swenson had a few questions for the council. She asked about charging a late fee to the school since the payments always arrive late. This happens because they approve the payments at their meetings which don’t take place until after the bills are due. She will be talking to the school about this.

She also asked about putting water meters in the three churchs that currently do not have them. The council members felt that the cost of putting in the meters was too much for what little gain there would be. These churchs will continue to be charged a flat fee.

* David Schmidgall was approved as a member of the Hancock Economic Development Authority replacing Ben Winchester.

as well unless cut up.