By Lorrie Ham
The Mayer City Council opened the first meeting of the year on Monday, Jan. 13 by recognizing the dedication and service of long-time firefighter Rich Cohrs.
Mayor Mike Dodge presented Cohrs with a plaque on behalf of the city as he thanked him for his years of service to the city of Mayer. Cohrs joined the department in June 1976 and his retirement is effective this month.
Cohrs thanked all of the fellow firefighters he served with over the years and said he appreciated the city’s recognition. The department’s officers were also on hand to congratulate Cohrs.
Also during the meeting, following discussion on some of the provisions, the council approved a Tower Lease Agreement with the Broadband Corporation, which purchased Cologne ISP assets and will continue to offer internet service to the city’s residents.
A sticking point for the council was the contract’s automatic renewable terms, which called for a one year initial term, followed by successive five year renewals, if the council did not give 90 days notice. Anthony Will of Broadband Corporation said the renewable terms are basically designed to alleviate paperwork.
“You can send us a letter tomorrow stating that you want to negotiate prior to the next renewal and that basically eliminates the auto renewal,” said Will.
Broadband will pay the city $50 per month under the terms of the agreement. The council could see the reason for a five year contract, but didn’t like the automatic renewal terms. With successive five year renewals, both members of the council and staff could change, leaving the possibility of the notification period to slip through the cracks, said Dodge.
The initial one year term is designed to work out any kinks in the system and give Broadband the opportunity to get the service up and running. Internet service for city hall and the fire station will be discussed after the initial term. Will said he would not commit to providing that service for the city until the service is completely established.
The council agreed to sign the lease, but directed city staff to notify Broadband of its intent to review the contract prior to renewing it for five years as of Jan. 1, 2015.
“The renewable terms will definitely be part of that discussion,” Dodge said.
In a related matter, Will asked the city to forgive a portion of the $906 bill he received for city attorney fees incurred during the process of reviewing the proposed lease agreement. Will was billed for six and a quarter hours of attorney fees, which he felt was excessive.
In reviewing the invoices for attorney time spent on the issue, the council felt it could not deviate from the bills without further information from the attorney. Dodge offered to get more information regarding the bill, but added that the lease agreement would be on hold until the financial matter was decided.
In the interest of time, Will agreed to pay the bill in full, saying it wasn’t the dollars, it was the principal of the matter.
In other city business, the council:
• adopted a 3 percent wage increase for 2014 for city employees, with the exception of public works employees, who had already been compensated.
• dissolved the finance committee and voted to hold at least two council workshops specifically aimed at delving into the city budget. The city administrator suggested a meeting in July and another in August as planning begins for the 2015 budget.
• approved a contract for the 2014 and 2015 city audits to Abdo, Eick and Meyers. The 2013 contract, which was approved at a prior meeting, was for $19,600 or a 2.55 percent increase over 2012. The firm originally quoted an increase for both the 2014 and 2015 contracts, but agreed to provide the service for two more years at the same cost.
• approved the 2014 fee schedule and annual appointments.
• congratulated City Administrator Luayn Murphy on her appointment to the Board of the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Murphy was appointed to the position by Governor Mark Dayton.