Swimming pool insurance saga ends
Clintonville receives $144,000 total
By Bert Lehman
The saga of the city’s swimming pool and its insurance company appears to have come to an end.
Almost a full year has passed since a fire damaged a building on the property.
Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell informed the Clintonville City Council at its Nov. 8 meeting that the city has probably received the last of the insurance money for the fire damage at the outdoor municipal swimming pool.
The city had previously received an insurance check of $127,559, and recently received another payment for $16,269 to cover the contents in the damaged building.
“I’m not particularly happy about the whole process,” Kell said.
Kell elaborated, stating that the city had requested an itemized breakdown of how much the city was receiving for each item in the building, but the insurance company did not submit that to the city, despite numerous requests from the city.
Kell added that he did express his frustration with the insurance agent.
In total the city received $143,828. This amount is after the city’s $5,000 deductible.
An outstanding bill of $1,279 still needs to be paid by the city.
“These funds are available to the city for how you deem appropriate,” Kell said.
The money doesn’t have to be spent on the pool, Kell added.
“It’s your decision on what you want to do with it,” Kell said.
Alderman Brad Rokus told the council that it had previously made a partial financial commitment to investigate the construction of a new pool, and he feels the money from the insurance company should be set aside until a decision about the future of the pool is made.
Wastewater treatment plant
Kell gave the council an update about the wastewater treatment plant project. He said the overall bids came in high for the project compared to the amount of the loan and grant money the city is receiving from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“We’re OK on the treatment plant, but the alternates we bid out for our lift stations were basically twice as much as what we had planned for,” Kell said.
There is a “strong” possibility that the city can get more funds approved for this project from the USDA, Kell said. Additional funds would serve as a “buffer” on the budget for the lift station alternates, as well as for funding the second phase of the Main Street sewer project scheduled for the summer next year.
Previously the city had discussed borrowing the money for the Main Street sewer project from the city’s water utility.
“That could still be done, but if the USDA is willing to fund that project for us we could do that as a loan and a grant,” Kell said.
The additional amount that the city would request from USDA would be $750,000. Kell said 55 percent ($412,500) of that would be in the form of a loan, with the remaining 45 percent ($337,500) in the form of a grant.
“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for the city to get some additional federal funding to help pay for Main Street,” Kell said.
He added that he was seeking authorization from the council to continue to discuss more funding with the USDA, and to put a request together for those funds.
Alderman Mark Doornink said both the Utility Commission and the city’s Finance Committee recommended the city pursue the additional funding from the USDA. The council approved 9-0 to allow Kell to pursue discussions with the USDA for the additional funding.
Kell told the council the block grant for a downtown study that the city had previously been approved for requires the city to have a procurement policy for buying supplies, hiring architects or engineers, and buying equipment. There were a few different procurement policy models that would be acceptable.
“I chose the one that I would call the most flexible and the least onerous conditions in it,” Kell said.
As an example, Kell said one of the models included stipulations that the city couldn’t request costs from companies as part of the process in selecting a company to contract with.
“I don’t like that system quite frankly,” Kell said. “I always think cost should be part of the consideration, not necessarily the top consideration.”
Kell recommended a policy that allowed cost consideration. He added that other items can be added to the policy in the future.
The council approved the procurement policy recommended by Kell.
Kell provided the council with an update about economic development in the city and the area. He said he recently met with the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation as the city is a member.
“One of the things that was bothering me quite frankly is I haven’t received a lead on any possible business through the Economic Development Corporation for the two years I’ve been here,” Kell said.
Everything is focused on small businesses now, and Wisconsin isn’t positioned well to pursue small businesses, Kell said. He added that he was informed that the county group hasn’t received any referrals.
“Basically there has not been a project that has been under consideration by any of the communities, coming from those referral agencies in two years,” Kell said.
The fact that Clintonville doesn’t have shovel-ready sites for businesses also doesn’t help, Kell said, as referrals usually go to communities that have sites ready for businesses.
Waupaca and New London are the only two cities in Waupaca County who have shovel ready sites for businesses.
“So you’re going to miss out on projects if the business or industry says we want a shovel-ready site,” Kell said.
Kell admitted he needed to do more research on what a shovel-ready site includes, but thought the reason the city’s industrial park on the north side isn’t considered a shovel-ready site is the fact there is no natural gas or electric utilities set up.
“Power for the business has to be there,” Kell said. “The streets have to be there. The zoning has to be in place. … I’m telling you this for the future because it’s an issue I think you’re going to want to address with a new TIF district.”
If Clintonville wants to be a community that is considered, it needs shovel-ready sites for prospective businesses.
“That’s something that’s missing here right now,” Kell said.
Council President Mike Hankins said the city had a good history of economic development until a couple of years ago. He added that most of that came from working proactively with existing businesses in the city.
“It is unfortunate that we don’t have any infrastructure in that [industrial] park,” Hankins said.
He added that the city was proactive in acquiring the land for the northern part of the industrial park, which was part of the long term plan of the city. Even though some of the updates sound discouraging, Hankins said, there are some things in place in the city to help attracted companies to the city.
Ninth Street sidewalk
After meeting in closed session to discuss the Ninth Street sidewalk issue, the council reconvened in open session and approved an agreement presented to the city from the business owners affected by the closed sidewalk on Ninth Street. No details of the agreement were given at the meeting.
The Clintonville Tribune Gazette requested a copy of the agreement and was notified by Kell that he was told by Clintonville City Attorney Keith Steckbauer not to release the agreement until all parties had signed it.