Firefighter retirement and pay increase wrap-up, new appointments in city volunteer positions and discussion on a community solar garden were at the forefront of the Scandia City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 18.
Firefighter pay and benefits
Last month, the City Council discussed a request by Fire Chief Mike Hinz to raise the retirement benefit to Scandia firefighters by $300 per year of service. The firefighters retirement, funded through the Public Employees Retirement Association, is provided in a lump sum and will now pay firefighters $2,800 per year of service upon retirement. After the funding study showed the current investment returns and current value of the account will bear no cost to the city, the final approval for the firefighters retirement increase was approved unanimously.
Firefighters are also now approved for a raise to take effect for 2017. In 2016, a raise of 3 percent was approved for the 2017 budget. The raise amounts to approximately $2,000 annually. The approval passed unanimously.
The council unanimously voted to approve the appointments of Carol Schwinghammer to the Parks and Recreation Committee and Brad Borg to the Economic Development Authority. Borg is set to serve a three-year term and is taking over for Greg Isaacson, who did not seek another term.
Plow truck purchase
Scandia will be getting a 2017 plow truck at the beginning of August after the council unanimously approved the purchase through equipment certificates. The certificates to purchase the new equipment were first brought up in 2015. The original purchase price of the 2017 plow truck was $200,000, but after a trade-in, the purchase price was brought down to $160,000. Five principal payments of $32,000 will be made over five years, starting in 2018.
The City Council unanimously approved the development agreement of the community solar garden by James and Kathleen Zavoral of Argo Navis Community Solar Gardens under the condition that the agreement between Tiller and Argo Navis regarding reclamation is completed.
A series of storms this July caused a busy month for police and firefighters, who spent much of their time doing brush and tree removal and managing safety concerns caused by the storm. Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Yetter also reported two suicides, two other deaths and an attempted arson of a car. The council also discussed with Yetter options to further make visible and enforce the private property boundary at Wind in the Pines Park, where Yetter continues to issue tickets to trespassers.