NR City Council: Hailstorm proceeds to fund sustainability and energy efficiency efforts

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City of New Richmond Finance Director Rae Ann Ailts presented council members with a proposal to use a portion of the money awarded to the city as a result of its insurance claims from last summer's hail storm, to fund three new forward-thinking initiatives.

Ailts told the council that the City expects to receive nearly $550,000 in settlement of its claims to date pertaining to damage to buildings and vehicles from the storm. The claim categorized damage in three levels of destructiveness: Cosmetic — not visibly noticeable and no impact on structural integrity or useful life; Cosmetic/Repair - structural integrity or useful life not impacted, damage is visibly noticeable, repairs are recommended; Repair - structural integrity or useful life impacted, repairs are recommended.

Settlement funds allocated to both of the categories recommending repairs will be used to make the necessary repairs to buildings and vehicles so impacted.

Ailts proposed to use the funds, nearly $100,000, paid out in claims for cosmetic damage (damage which is not visibly noticeable and requires no repair) to seed three new accounts. The proposal allocates $30,000 to establish a sustainability account, funds not to exceed $25,000 in matching funds to an energy efficiency grant if awarded and the balance, $45,000, to be allocated to future municipal building improvements.

"Of those damages that have been identified as cosmetic for which we would receive the actual cash value, we would not make the repairs and instead would look at allocating some of those funds toward sustainable efforts that would go for the CESA funding grant if we are awarded that. We would also recommend a portion of the funds be diverted to establish a sustainability account which would allow the council today to earmark those funds for a future use that would be a green tier initiative. The remaining funds allocated to future municipal building improvement projects," explained Ailts.

From the same funds, roughly $19,000 would be set aside for the future purchase of a new police vehicle.

The council approve Ailts's proposal unanimously.

Police Chief Craig Yehlik walked council members through a proposal to replace his department's existing Sig Sauer handguns with new Glock Gen V handguns.

"Earlier in the year we talked about our Sig Sauer handguns that we currently carry coming to an end of their usefulness with their vee sights. Back then we made a recommendation to look at going with the Glock 9mm, one, for cost savings on the initial purchase of the firearms and, two, the ammo is cheaper," said Yehlik.

Since the initial proposal at the beginning of the year, the department made a concerted effort to use up their 40 caliber ammunition to avoid losing money on any trade-in and also compared the Glock to several other brands of handguns. Glock proved to be the most economical choice to purchase at $5 over cost if purchased through one of their main distributors.

The council approved a bid from Kiesler Police Supply to purchase 19 Glock Gen V handguns at a cost of $428.50 per gun, less $310 per gun for the trade-in of 18 Sig Sauer handguns. The new Glocks include night sights and three magazines per firearm.

Other business

• Council members approved a proposal from Big Ring flyers to host a Fat Tire Bicycle Race Jan. 13, 2018, on city-owned property located near Barley John's Brewery.

• The Council approved an Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Management Plan. The plan was funded using an Urban Forestry Grant and created in consultation with DNR staff, tree care professionals and urban forestry directors from communities with EAB experience. The long-term plan calls for a phased removal of a large portion of those trees over the next five years to be replaced with a variety of other species.

• The Council approved an energy management resolution which establishes the goal to reduce City facilities use of water, electricity and natural gas by 2 percent from 2017 levels in the next two years.

• Council members approved a resolution authorizing city staff to apply for a $10,000 River Planning Grant from the DNR to study the potential of the Willow River including creation of a recreation management plan and citizen organization and training.

• The Council approved a contract with SEH Inc., for a not-to-exceed amount of $10,000 to survey property on the west side of the Willow River to determine the feasibility of a trail with costs to be covered by funds designated as part of the purchase of the former Dairy Queen property.

• The library will be hosting a Noon Year's Eve celebration for kids Dec. 30.

• The Police Department K-9 program has taken possession of a Belgian Malinois. Training for the new K-9 team begins in March.

• Citizens are reminded to get out and vote in the primary election scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 19 and the general election, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Absentee voting for the Dec. 19 primary continues through this Friday, Dec.15.

• Residents with property adjacent to sidewalks are reminded they have 24 hours after snowfalls greater than 1 inch to clear the sidewalks.

• Residents with fire hydrants on their property are asked to keep the hydrants from becoming snow-covered over the course of the winter season.

• Anyone interested is encouraged to visit and support City Management Analyst Noah Weidenfeld during his 26-hour bell ringing marathon on behalf of Salvation Army in front of Walmart. The marathon starts at 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14 and ends at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15.