Leaky city building costs Columbus

Repairs at maintenance facility estimated near $19,000


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter
It would not be good on the state primary day of Aug. 14 for Columbus’ voters and election judges to visit their polling place, in the city maintenance building, and find rainwater pooling on the floor.

Staff found it shocking enough the morning of July 18, within hours of a particularly windy storm, to find water had come through the metal walls into the home of the city’s 12,000-square-foot maintenance shop, a community room, office and storage space.

City Council members voted 4-0 at their next meeting July 25 (Jeff Duraine was absent) to hire the John A. Dalsin & Son sheet metal firm, of Minneapolis, to correct the problems prior to primary day.

The company began work July 26 that included an application of butyl sealant in the vertical wall joints located every 3 feet around the building.

The city’s engineering consultants from Roof Spec Inc., of St. Paul, also recommended new flashing with end dams for 13 window frames, three garage doors and two exhaust fans. The city agreed to a work estimate of $18,914, with funding to come from the public works portion of the general budget.

Temporary hire
Council members who were present last week also voted unanimously to hire Leon Ohman as the city’s building official for a 90-day term.

Ohman has filled the role in Columbus previously including during vacation times of Building Official Nick Schmitz, who has worked for the city and former township since November 2003 but is leaving this week to take a similar post in East Bethel. Ohman will work approximately 25 hours per week at a negotiated rate between $37 and $40 per hour, Columbus City Administrator Elizabeth Mursko said.

Licensed for septic, plumbing and HVAC inspections and carrying the same credentials as Schmitz, according to Mursko, Ohman will adjust his hours by the day depending if he is scheduled for a site visit at 8 a.m. or 3 p.m.

Mayor Dave Povolny said he is interested in streamlining services and asked if Columbus could contract with Forest Lake or another city for a building official’s time.

Mursko replied that city staff sees enough building-related traffic at City Hall to justify Columbus’ hire of its own official.

“People come to the counter every single day and have building questions,” she said, adding that without the official, City Hall would be left with three daily employees who are not skilled to answer those questions.

She said she has heard that Scandia has contacted Forest Lake for building official services, but if Columbus would consider that, “you’re not addressing the counter issue, you’re not addressing the phone issue,” Mursko said. “I don’t know that you’re really covering the customer service end of it.”

Ohman’s effective start date is Aug. 2.

New member for EDA
Council members Bill Krebs, Jessie Messina and Denny Peterson voted to ratify the mayor’s appointment of Tracie Wilson to the city’s Economic Development Authority. Since its establishment in June 2010 in Columbus, the EDA has consisted of the mayor and four City Council members in the roles of commissioners.

Last March, the city amended its EDA bylaws to create two more seats for the public at large (appointees could be residents of another city).

Wilson was the first person to apply and be ratified for one of those seats. She is the chief financial officer for Running Aces Harness Park.