Council remembers McDonald during brief meeting

Five days after K.J. McDonald’s death, the Watertown mayor still had a presence at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, the first since he passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.

Unlike at other recent meetings, when councilor Rick Mann would assume the middle seat while filling in as acting mayor for McDonald, this time McDonald’s typical seat in the middle of the table was left open. His nameplate was also displayed in front of the seat, and the council observed a moment of silence for the former mayor, who most recently had served in the position since 2005.

Following the remembrance of McDonald, it was back to business as usual for the council, which cruised through a brief 35-minute meeting. The primary topic of discussion was a new sharing agreement with Delano, in which the two cities will share equipment, staff and time when it comes to cleaning the sanitary sewer systems in each city.

Each city currently has only once piece of the necessary equipment. Watertown owns a Jet Vac truck, but contracts out for the televising system used to view the underground system. Delano owns the televising system, but has only a Jet Vac trailer instead of a truck, so the two cities decided it made sense to share resources.

The sharing agreement was expected to be officially signed Wednesday morning. Look for more details of the new agreement in next week’s Carver County News.

The agreement is the second sharing agreement the two cities have reached in the last year. Watertown and Delano previously agreed to share their in-house building inspector, an agreement that is ongoing.

In other business:
• The council approved the 2013 Fire Department budget. The budget includes a roughly 9 percent increase from this year, with a large portion of the increase being used for wage increases to fire fighters and several new pieces of equipment, including a new rooftop air conditioning unit. Pay for the department’s 28 on-call fire fighters will increase from $8 to $9 per hour. The budget was unanimously approved by the council, with council member Nicholas Hoese abstaining because he is a member of the fire department.

• The council opted not to purchase and plant a number of trees along Street B in the community park at this time. City staff had recommended spending not more than $1,900 to plant five or six trees along the west side of the street to create a uniform corridor, as Peace Lutheran Church is planning to plant 11 maple trees along the east side of the street on its new property. However, the council decided for various reasons that it would be best to wait until spring, as no real benefit would be gained by planting the trees this fall.