Members of the Syracuse City Council met for their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at City Hall.
The council discussed or took action on the following items:
Members voted authorization for the mayor to sign the 2018 audit. During discussion about the audit, council members heard from CPAs Todd Blome and Julie Baumann that the city’s financial health was good with reasonable debt ratio for a municipality of its size and also with increased equity and decreased liability which serves as an indicator that the city is paying its debts down in an effective fashion.
Sheriff Colin Caudill appeared before the council to give a monthly report. Caudill said the Sheriff’s Office is down two members due to injury while two others are currently at the academy. The force had one officer leave to another organization and will be seeking a replacement.
In terms of snow removal, Caudill advised the city that they might consider cleaning up the language of city code to allow for the better enforcement of issues related to clearing streets of vehicles to allow for snow removal.
The council voted to approve a new member to the Syracuse Volunteer Fire Department, that being Colton Lotter.
The council voted to end the probationary period of employment for Jill Crook with the Park and Recreation Department. Crook’s job performance has met with much positive feedback for the city and City Clerk Kelly Farmer reported that she felt Crook was a great teammate at the city offices in that she performed not only her work but also helped out with whatever other tasks needed to be addressed.
Carolyn Gigstad gave an update on the efforts to raise funds for a new bathhouse. Pledges and donations plus county and city Keno dollars made for a total of $62K. The bath house group is preparing for the first expense of the project, which relates to planning documents.
Turning to Public Works, the city council approved a rate increase for water services to begin on March 1. The language of the rate increase was cleared up by including wording in regard to both lines and meters for water service.
The lawn and leaf pile, where city residents dispose of yard waste, was discussed. It was hoped to have an individual or business step up with a bid to take on the task of maintaining the lawn and leaf pile. The only qualifying bid received was one that could not be accepted due to language in the city code that doesn’t allow a city employee to perform such a service.
The council directed City Attorney Jerry Stilmock to change the code to allow for an employee to be accepted for a bid on the services. The lawn and leaf pile management will be put out for bids again so that all bidders will have a chance to make a case for themselves and a winning bidder will be selected at a future council meeting.
The council decided to table a discussion about the future of city owned property at 324 6th St. Options could include an auction of the property by sealed bid with a minimum bid amount attached.
Jeff Vogt of the Public Works Department informed the city council that a city snow blower had broken down but that he had been able to get the equipment repaired for a sum of around $8,000. That repair saves the city from having to pay up to $90K for replacement of the snow blower.
The council approved a cell tower construction of 404’, which includes a lightning rod. The planning commission approved the cell tower and the city council voted in agreement with the planning commission but did add language to make sure all codes and provisions were followed in the construction.
The council approved a $8,258.16 bid by Thrasher to address circulation issues in the city hall basement. Although not the lowest bid, the council members said the Thrasher proposal would address all issues associated with the problem and would thus eliminate the need to address the issue further at a later date.
The council heard from Main Street Bank, which is constructing a new branch near the intersection of Highways 2 and 50. Justin Douglas, President of Main Street, presented a request to allow the new branch to forgo city code requiring sidewalks due to practical and safety reasons. Although the city did not approve that request, the council voted that the sidewalk would be amended from its eight-foot reqirement and would allow for a four-foot sidewalk.
The council voted to use budgeted fund for park and rec to refresh gravel lots at the soccer fields, the ball complex and the aquatic center.