Fire truck purchases fill Scandia’s 5-year CIP

2013-2017 plan calls for city to buy two trucks

Mary Bailey
Scandia Reporter

Fire trucks and snow plows last week, roads next week:  At its Tuesday, May 29 special meeting the Scandia City Council began work on the capital improvement plan for 2013 through 2017, focusing on major expenditures for equipment and buildings.

Road projects will be discussed at a second meeting on June 18.

A large chunk of spending is for the fire department. A $300,000 fire engine planned for 2013 will require borrowing about half the cost. Fire Chief Jim Finnegan said the second engine is necessary to keep homeowner insurance rates low.

A $180,000 fire tanker is scheduled for 2015, and a $60,000 grass rig for 2017.  HVAC replacement for the fire station, at $20,000, is planned for 2015.

Finnegan recommended that the city buy three or four sets of turnout gear each year, so that all jackets, bunkers and pants are replaced every 10 years. This will be included in the annual budget at about $10,000 per year.

Severe weather sirens were added to the plan, partly in response to a letter from Cindy and Harold Johnson of Langly Avenue. In their letter the Johnsons said about 100 homes on the west side of Big Marine Lake cannot hear weather alert sirens.

Scandia has one siren in the uptown area, which was recently replaced. To cover the entire city would require eight more. At $25,000 per siren, the total cost would be $200,000.

Finnegan said the city is eligible to apply for a grant in which the federal government pays 75 percent of the cost. Scandia’s portion would be $50,000.

Snow Plows

Scandia’s 90 miles of roads are divided into two snow plow routes. Now that the new maintenance superintendent is on staff, Scandia has three snow plow operators. To run three routes, the city would need a third truck.

When the new tandem truck was purchased, the old truck it replaced, estimated to be worth about $30,000, was not sold. At the May 29 meeting, the council agreed to keep it as a backup. It is not considered reliable enough to count on for a third route.

In the future the city may choose to buy another tandem snow plow.

In the mean time, the other dump truck used as a snow plow, purchased in 2002, is scheduled for replacement in 2016 at a cost of $200,000. “Fourteen years is awfully long for a plow truck,” Maintenance Superintendent Tim Kieffer said. “The salt eats them up.”

Other public works department expenditures are a $60,000 tractor planned for 2014 and mowers totaling $37,000 for 2016.

Office Space

The council divided the perennial office space issue into two parts.

Treasurer Colleen Firkus will look at converting files for electronic storage, to address the problem of inadequate space for paper records. “I’m in that horror closet all the time, trying to find information,” she said.  “I can’t find the stuff.”  Many records are in cold storage in a different building.

Council member Sally Swanson will take on the problem of inadequate space for staff and meetings. Paying $18,000 for a study by an architect and interior designer, currently in the capital improvements plan for 2013, has met with resistance in the past.

But Mayor Randall Simonson urged the council to address the problem.  “Eventually, we’ll be busting at the seams. Nobody’s too keen on it, but it’s not something we can ignore,” he said.

Lack of privacy in the city office affects working conditions, making it difficult to concentrate when someone is on the phone or talking to a resident.

Delayed, Dropped City Projects

Extending the sidewalk to the south ball field was moved to 2014.

Future expenditures for the Bliss and Anderson/Erickson sewer systems will be added to the plan when more information is available.

The council removed from the pending list a $40,000 electronic sign for the community center.

“They’re expensive, frustrating, and somebody’s got to program them,” Mayor Simonson said.  “Most people are on-line and can get information from the city website,” he added.

The council also dropped from the pending list an underground irrigation system for the community center, and cut the Hilltop Water Company barn project.

Council member Connie Amos was absent from the meeting.