For the third consecutive month, members of the De Smet City Council and the public convened virtually with the majority attending in person for their monthly business meeting. Mayor Gary Wolkow led the meeting from City Hall with Council members Butch Hansen, George Cavanaugh, Alex Botkin, Norman Whitaker, Attorney Todd Wilkinson, Finance Officer Tracey Larson and Deputy Finance Officer Karen Hansen attending in person while Bret Jensen and Jay Slater joined by Zoom.
After approval of the meeting agenda and minutes, the Council went to work approving variances and building permits. Discussion was held on a request for a variance by Chad Kruse to build a garage and concrete patio attached to his house. Neighbor Leonard Rumbolz was present questioning the lot line modification. Final approval was given to Kruse for the variance and a building permit altering the application to 6’ from the lot line in place of the requested 5’ with the majority of the Council voting “aye’ and Slater abstaining.
Jodi and Troy Halverson were approved for a steel awning/lean-to for the front of their house and an 8’ x 10’ pantry addition.
Additional building permits were issued to Josh Halverson for a privacy fence; Jeff and Lindsay Nolte - concrete permit; Andrew Armstead - concrete kennel, pad for heat pump and patio; Connie Bitner – deck; Leonard Rumbolz – front deck and steps; De Smet Farm Mutual – fence and Mike and Amy Scofield – privacy fence.
Approval of Sidewalk Café Alcoholic beverage sales and consumption permits for Baackkers II, Grumpy’s and Wheaties were approved with several local business owners present for the discussion. Attorney Wilkinson reminded the owners that a six-foot area must be left open on the sidewalk for a pedestrian walkway on Calumet Avenue, and that the area should be roped off. The owners are responsible for their tables and chairs left on the sidewalk during off hours. Patti Ward and Kim Ernst expressed concerns for late night noise disturbances keeping downtown residents and guests awake. Wilkinson stated that the Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling the area.
Next on the agenda, the Council all voted in favor of keeping Resolution 2020-1 regarding the present coronavirus regulations in place until their next monthly meeting to be held on July 8. This ruling requires restaurants/bars to restrict occupancy to 50% of capacity and to maintain social distancing recommendations.
Shane Waterman representing Clark Engineering/IMEG was present to request an engineering agreement be entered into with the city for the water looping project for installation of 2,040 LF of six-inch water main from Chase Street to Front Street and two areas on Fourth Street. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a $565,000 loan to the city for the project. The engineering agreement included the total amount of $66,500 to be paid to IMEG for administrative, bidding, design and construction service costs, which is within the DNR loan to the city. Plans are to begin bidding the project this fall to start construction in the spring of 2021. Water rate surcharge due to debt service will not take place until the bids are received to determine total costs for the project.
Councilman Slater questioned why a sewer grant application was not submitted at the same time, stating that a waste waters facilities plan needs to be completed. Finance Officer Larson stated that First District Association of Governments consultant Greg Maag had advised that at the present time the DNR is not allowing funding requests for projects that involve future development funding. Wilkinson advised that the city proceed with the agreement with IMEG and take time to study the sewer and facilities plan.
“It is too late for the sewer application to be on DNR’s fall agenda,” said Waterman. “Your application would have already had to be in by now, so we are looking at March of next year. You have to put in your application and then get in line to take your turn for the funding.”
Jenny Todd was appointed to be on the June 16 City Council Election Board to replace Audrey Lembke. June 18 was selected as the date for a special meeting of the Council to canvas the election ballots. The election is to be held at the De Smet Event & Wellness Center.
“Each booth will be wiped down after each voter, disposable pencils will be used, hand sanitizer provided and the election officials will be wearing masks,” said Larson. “Over 100 absentee ballots have been received.”
In quick action, the contract with the De Smet School District for the use of the Event & Wellness Center in the amount of $12,750.00 per year was approved. The appraisal of the Woods FZ28K zero-turn mower was accepted and a unanimous vote received to advertise the mower for sale at the appraised value.
A Petition and Resolution to annex a small strip of property between Wilder Pass addition and AVA Inc. property was approved, as well as a Plat for the annexed property.
Cole Munger, superintendent of Building and Parks, reported that they are seeking repairs for the warning siren on the old City Shop. The only company repairing sirens that they can find is from out-of-state. City staff have been inquiring with other communities for possible resources and whether there are others in need of repair that could assist with the $2,000 in travel costs for a repair company.
Discussion was held that there was not an ‘all clear’ siren given after a recent storm warning. Munger reported that according to Kingsbury Emergency Management Director Cindy Bau, there will no longer be ‘all clear’ signals issued. Mayor Wolkow expressed desire that the residents be made aware of this.
Munger reported that the baby pool at the city’s swimming pool has a leak that needs to be repaired at a cost of $5,000.
“I cannot keep it clean as it drains out every night, and the chlorine is immediately leaked out,” said Munger. “I am worried about it burning out the pump.”
The Council recommended that the baby pool be closed for the rest of the year and the repair cost be put into the city’s 2021 budget.
“I want to commend Cole and Kristy Hubbard, pool director, for getting the pool up and going and to the lifeguards for always being busy. The guards have been out mowing and always doing something to clean. It has all been organized well,” stated Council Member George Cavanaugh and Mayor Wolkow.
The Hazel L. Meyer Memorial Library Board presented a proposed phase plan to re-open to the public on July 1. Phase 1 began on March 18, when the Library closed to the public, with Phase 2 presently in place since April 23 with curbside service, quarantining and sanitizing of books. Phase 3 allows for a partial opening to allow hours for the staff to enhance the sanitization of the library and the books. The proposed schedule:
Monday – Open to the public 12:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday - Closed for cleaning and book sanitization
Wednesday – Open to the public 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Thursday – Curbside only
Friday – Open for older and high-risk population 12:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Slater announced that the library needed two weeks to obtain supplies. The sit-down area in the library will be closed as recommended by the South Dakota State Library Board. Sneeze guards will be installed. Other recommendations include applying hand sanitizer when entering the library, requiring use of masks, spending a maximum of thirty minutes in the library, no children under 12, no more than one person per family and no groups allowed. Councilman Botkin expressed concern that presently many people in the community without access to a computer need to have the library open sooner for that use.
Botkin made a motion that the Library Plan be adopted with the modification that it be put into place Monday, June 15. This includes City Hall to be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Motion passed with four yes votes and Slater voting against. Mayor Wolkow encouraged people to use the Drop Box for the library and City Hall, if possible.
Each city councilman has been given the task of making spring clean-up lists of any infractions of city ordinances in their specific precinct to be submitted to City Hall by the June 18 meeting. Slater remarked concern with some alleyways encroached by bushes spreading out. It was requested that city crews report any infringements to City Hall.
Cavanaugh sees the need for new gravel on some alleys and for better street repair.
“Our streets are not perfect. There is lots to do here and let’s get at it!” said Cavanaugh. Larson reported street repair crews are scheduled to be coming in June.
“Our revenues are higher this month because of the first half property taxes paid,” stated Finance Officer Larson. “We received a large payment for the TIF. This is being paid back at a faster rate than anticipated. Sales tax revenues have stayed on budget. Shopping in town has helped.”
The BBB (Bed, Board and Booze) Tax is down 2.85%, which is expected with motels and restaurants having fewer visitors due to COVID-19 effects. Larson reported the city crews are being very conservative on spending to see how the revenues go this summer.