by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Hamburg City Council members are busily working on the budget, amidst several changes to the look of the city.
At their last meeting, council members set the preliminary budget and worked through the retirement of maintenance worker Dennis Byerly, who stepped down on Aug. 28 after 21 years with the city.
The replacement process has begun according to City Clerk and Treasurer Jeremy Gruenhagen and four candidates were interviewed in the last week.
“Our goal is to have someone hired here beginning of October,” said Gruenhagen.
The council did approve a contract with People Services, who will take care of water and wastewater requirements through the end of the year to complete daily rounds, take samples and flush hydrants with Byerly gone.
“At least we have the water and wastewater items covered,” said Gruenhagen. “They’ll be taking care of any reporting that is needed per state rules and regulations.”
Council members also approved a $25 increase to the Hamburg Fire Department Relief Association pension, effective 2014.
Gruenhagen said there wasn’t a lot of discussion, as the council agreed to approve the increase to support the department, of which there are 27 active members.
Among the items under discussion for the 2014 budget are a new $23,000 generator for the sewer lift station to replace the 30-year old generator, policing for 2014 and a contracted community service officer. One of the major impacts on the budget are rising health insurance costs, which went up 30 percent.
“At this time the council is going to look at pursuing other options,” said Gruenhagen, adding they could look at a different company or agents. “We’ll look at any possibility to look at reducing those costs.”
The preliminary 2014 property tax levy was set at $414,970, a 5 percent increase.
“Typically the preliminary is usually high and usually we work our way down,” said Gruenhagen. “Hopefully we work our way down to no increase.”
The council will continue to meet in until the public hearing date on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. to lessen the increase.
“Any of the biggest increases in the budget, or reason for possible increase in the property tax levy are street improvements that are needed,” said Gruenhagen, adding some major reconstruction projects need to be addressed. “Our city is in good financial shape,” said Gruenhagen.
Other discussions of note include the city assessment policy and whether to assess for mill and overlay projects. The exterior of the city’s water tower was also recently completed. The tower will mark its 100-year anniversary next year and holds 50,000 gallons. While the style remained the same, council members have discussed revising the font of Hamburg on the tower.
“We are looking to change the font to get a better type G,” said Gruenhagen, adding more changes could be in the 10-year plan. “By the next time it’s painted, the city will probably be in the process of looking at a new tower.”
The city also started a three-year process of cleaning the city’s sewer lines, approving a contract with Jostens Service for cleaning the Community Hall before and after events and approved a gambling permit for the Hamburg Lions Club bingo event on Nov. 22.
The Hamburg City Council will next meet on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.