Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 Church Directory

Clear Lake council focuses on Fire Department

Monday’s meeting of the Clear Lake City Council was heavy on Fire Department related items, and it took nearly two hours to complete the agenda.

Acting Mayor Karen White called the meeting to order, as council first acted to accept a $10,000 donation from the Clear Lake Lions that will be used towards Fire Department equipment.

Next, council agreed to have Stantec, the City’s engineering firm, act as construction supervisor of the hail damage repair project.  

Council then spent a considerable amount of time discussing the next phase of the Fire Hall construction process, as the architectural and civil engineering bids were awarded to YHR, a firm out of Moorhead who submitted the lowest bid, in the amount of $92,400.  The scope of this part of the project would include services from conceptual building plans all the way through potential construction administration should the city decide to move ahead with the new construction.

Council member Kirstin Brandt presented the job description for the City Clerk/Treasurer position, noting that it had been created by looking at language from several similarly sized cities, as well as input from the League of MN Cities.

Council approved the language and recommended posting the position for a two week period in the newspaper to see what type of response was received.  As currently stated, the position will be a 28 hour offer of employment, with the salary negotiable depending on experience and qualifications.

In related news, council also approved a recommendation from the personnel committee to make a job offer on the Public Works Director position.  They also agreed to expand the emergency response provision in the contract to accommodate for a 60 minute period, up from the current 30 minutes as outlined in policy.

In the public participation portion of the meeting, council responded to a question from the floor regarding privacy fence ordinances and also gathered input about the enforcement of lawn mowing and vegetation height within the city.  The volume of traffic on Hwy. 24 also drew comment, with suggestions including signage or other ways to encourage drivers to be more responsible when it comes to yielding to pedestrians and cross traffic.

In some final Fire Department related news, Chief Ron Koren asked council to consider approving a $300 per year stipend for a pair of Lieutenant positions that replaced an open Captain position, as well as a $600 yearly stipend for the new training officer (there is still an open Ass’t. Chief position with no current plans to add that rank).  

Council approved the request seeing as the costs were offset with the unfilled spots.  Next, they had a robust discussion concerning department personnel pay.  The current rate of pay for the firefighters is just $12 per hour, while yearly officer stipends can be as low as under $400 per year.  Currently, firefighters are paid just twice per year, or approximately every six months.  Data available at the meeting noted that the department is authorized for 35 members, but currently has just 21 firefighters.  Council expressed an openness to discussing pay enhancements for the department as a possible way to recruit new members.

Assistant Chief Matt Lunser noted that finding enough personnel is a difficult task across the state and country, and is something that the higher levels of government are going to have to address.

In final action, the council set July 11 at 7 p.m. for a community meeting at the Hunter Lake Bluffs park to discuss the development of that amenity.