The Scandia City Council had another busy agenda as it worked through a number of issues at the June 20 City Council Meeting.
Firefighter retirement benefit
Currently, the benefit provided to Scandia firefighters at retirement is a lump sum payout of $2,500 per each year of service. The council looked at a request by Fire Chief Mike Hinz to increase the benefit amount from $2,500 to $2,800 per year of service beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
Currently, the Public Employees Retirement Account for Scandia firefighters has a balance of $723,514 with a projected payout of $560,011, leaving a balance of $163,503. The city’s contribution at the current benefit level is $54,742 annually. A change to a benefit of $2,800 per year of service would increase the projected liability for future payouts by $66,158 and reduce the excess balance to $97,345. The annual contribution would increase by the amount of $6,471 per year to $61,213 per year.
The target age group for new firefighters is declining in Scandia.
While there may be a need to begin to use a levy in order to fund the fire retirement benefit in the future, the retirement benefit is one of few real benefits for volunteer firefighters.
The council voted unanimously to increase the retirement benefit amount to $2,800 per year of service.
At the most recent council work session, the council discussed the current dog ordinance and changes that members felt should be made to the ordinance. There was much discussion regarding what should be considered as an at-large dog and what the definition of restraint should be and the penalty for such violations.
In the ordinance, the penalty for such violations was a misdemeanor, which is considered a crime, according to the city attorney, with a penalty of up to $1,000, 90 days in jail or both.
With most of the changes being created for the council by City Administrator Neil Soltis, the new dog ordinance has changes in definition and penalties for an at-large dog and the definition of restraint. The change in definition of restraint is that now a dog is considered to be under restraint if it’s controlled by a leash, as opposed to the previous language specifying that the leash had to be 6 feet long or shorter. A violation of at-large dog or dog not under restraint requirements was downgraded to a petty misdemeanor with a fine of no more than $300.
The council originally wanted to upgrade multiple violations to a misdemeanor but decided to exclude that language after discussion and unanimously voted to approve the new ordinance.
The Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Ryan Jinks told the council that the committee held a special meeting to discuss the Veterans Memorial site, and the committee wants to be certain that the memorial does not exclude the butterfly garden originally planned for this location before the memorial was approved. The council was in agreement.