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Hallock City Council debates staff hours

By Margie Holmgren
The Hallock City Council met Monday, May 8 for three hours to discuss a variety of city business.
Tabled from last month was the discussion on all city staff’s lunch breaks and hours. All staff wanted to drop from a one-hour lunch break to a half hour.
City office staff was requesting a change of office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
City Clerk/Administrator Angela Grafstrom stated they do take staggered lunches so the office is open during the noon hour and they have very little traffic after 4:30 p.m.
As he had stated at the last meeting Mayor David Treumer was not in favor of changing the office hours and would prefer the office staff to stagger when they arrive so one could stay until 5 p.m. He also restated he wants the office open at noon. Treumer stated he felt the few times he worked at the city office, he had someone in every time after 4:30 p.m.
Councilor Kevin Waller stated this had also been brought up to him and Larson at a staff meeting.
He felt it should come before the council and be decided by them.
“This is still a business although we aren’t selling anything,” explained Treumer as to why he felt they should stay open until 5 p.m. It is a service to the public.
Councilor Naomi Larson felt it was not a problem for them to close at 4:30 p.m.
Councilor Jen Peterson stated it won’t matter if it’s at 4:30 or 5 p.m. when you close, you will always have people coming in at the last minute.
Waller asked if they could try it over the summer months and see how it goes, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Peterson felt this might be confusing.
Larson explained since the employees don’t live in town they aren’t going to take an hour lunch, they take half an hour lunch and usually eat at their desks.
“If you run staggered noon hours and have someone come in at 8 and someone coming in at 8:30,” explained Treumer, “I don’t understand why that’s so complicated.”
The hours of the city maintenance staff is 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The council voted to allow the city office to change the hours til Labor Day to see how it is received by the community.
The council then discussed the changing of the city maintenance employees to either four 10 hour days or four nine-hour days with four hours on Friday. They too would like to go to a half-hour lunch.
Waller said there are two parts to this question, the lunch and what hours they work this summer.
A motion was made and passe by the council to let the maintenance crew go to half-hour lunch breaks.
Councilor Mikey Totleben stated, “I just feel Dan has a crew and he should be in charge of his crew and work the hours he needs at that time of year within reason.”
“We can do anything on a temporary basis,” stated Treumer. “As a supervisor, these hours can vary throughout the week. If you put in 35 hours in the first four days then you only put in 5 hours on Friday.”
“If something happens during the winter, knock off early on Friday to keep overtime down,” added Treumer. “I believe that’s within your authority.”
“They need a guideline,” stated Larson.
The council debated which option to give them or to just let Dan decide what hours they worked.
Larson made the motion to have the maintenance crew work four nine-hour days, and 4 hours on Friday with Dan having discretion to let them take off earlier on Friday should they have their 40 in earlier in the week to keep from having overtime hours. These hours will be from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The council approved this motion.
Fire Department
Scott Slusar met with the Hallock City Council to discuss the fire truck, which will be ready the end of May. The fire department will be giving the city a donation for $162,865.50 and the city will have to pay $71,136.50 in addition to this amount for total purchase price of $325,731. The city has already paid $91,729 towards the truck. The council approved accepting the donation.
Police Department
City Police Chief Mike Docken asked for approval by the council to allow Gary Koop of Hallock Electric to do some trenching at Gilbert Olson Park. Koop had already been approved to add electrical sites to the park and the city was going to do the trenching. The city crew does not have time and Koop is able to do it at a cost of $2/foot. The entire trenching portion will be about $400. The council approved having Koop do the trenching in addition to adding the electric sites.
The council further discussed painting the gazebo at Centennial Park white. Councilor Larson stated she had not heard from anyone in favor of painting the gazebo white. Larson also spoke with Gullander Hardware about painting it and then if they decided to go back to stain. She reported that going back to stain after painting would be difficult.
Councilor Jen Peterson also stated she had only received comments against painting it white. The council was surprised no one opposed was in attendance at the meeting.
Waller added he would like to know if those against the gazebo are the same couple of people calling several council members or if it is more than a couple people. He also stated that for many years nothing has been done with it and now we have people willing to donate time and paint so maybe we could get people to donate stain or whatever.
“If we have three or four people making a big stink about this that’s one thing…but if we have 30 or 40 that is something else,” added Waller.
“I’ve heard a lot about this gazebo and in a small town like this to get someone to do these things… there are lots of challenges and when people keep getting beat on and harped at they aren’t going to want to do this,” added Waller. “It’s frustrating when we lose people to be involved in some of this stuff.”
When asked if the council had told those opposed to the painting of the gazebo had been invited to the council meeting, no answer was given. They assumed that people would come since they are opposed.
Flower Committee
A proposal from Jeanne Cooney on behalf of the Hallock Flower Committee was presented in written form. The proposal was a request for 13 galvanized stock tanks – 2 ft. high x 2 ft. wide x 4 ft. long at $89.99 from Gullander Hardware. These tanks will go along the east side of Highway 75 and the affected businesses have already been talked to by the committee, according to Cooney’s letter. Also on the proposal was three extra-large, traditional, flower pots. The total of the request was $2,069.87. The request also asked for the removal of the diseased tree north of the gazebo. The council did not act on the request as there was no representative from the committee at the meeting. They tabled it until the June meeting.
Discussion was held on private lessons at the swimming pool. The parks and rec committee recommended that private lessons need to be five days and not just four days. The council approved this motion.
They also discussed how much money the lifeguards should receive for private lessons. In prior years, the lifeguards received the entire cost of the private lessons. The committee felt the lifeguard should be paid a portion of those costs as the city is paying for the pool maintenance, the lifeguards certifications, liability insurance, etc.
Larson stated her issue is that the city is not benefitting anything from the private lessons.
Grafstrom reported that last year the pool staff made $24,900. Three girls received over $8,000 for private lessons alone.
Waller was concerned the lifeguards wouldn’t want to do the private lessons if they didn’t get the entire amount. He stated he didn’t want to get a bunch of phone calls saying we don’t have anyone to do private lessons.
The council voted to set the lifeguards salaries at $12 per hour for private lessons with the one returning lifeguard making $13.50 per hour. Councilor Mikey Totleben voted against, stating he didn’t want to receive any phone calls.
The council also approved a rate for water aerobics at $5 per one hour lesson with the instructor being paid $13.50 per hour.
The council also approved the pool manager job description at 17-20 hours per week.
In other business:
• Matt Kuzel presented a request on behalf of his wife, Emily, to get a group of volunteers together to get the playground equipment installed. The council gave the Kuzels permission to proceed.
• Council approved setting a hearing for Monday, June 3, for the adoption of an ordinance establishing fees for emergency protection fire services for property within the city.
• Permission was given to Docken to start the paperwork for another fall deer hunt in the city.
• Council approved renting a speed sign trailer from the county a few times this summer to see how effective it is on speeders as well as the amount of traffic it calculates coming into town.
• Council received an update on the Hallock dam project from Jeff Langan, Houston Engineering.
• Building permits were approved for Dennis Kinkead, Erika Swanson and Bob Jaszczak.
The council will meet again Monday, June 3, 5:30 p.m.

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