Posted on

Harris named as new Medford city coordinator

Harris named as new Medford city coordinator Harris named as new Medford city coordinator

Joe Harris will be the new city coordinator.

At Tuesday’s Medford City Council meeting, aldermen formally approved Harris to take over the position effective September 16. The details of the appointment had been worked out during a closed session meeting last week where aldermen interviewed Harris.

According to Mayor Mike Welllner, Harris has stepped up to the plate in the absence of city coordinator John Fales who announced his retirement last month. Fales’ last official day with the city is September 15.

Under terms of the agreement with Harris, he will start out at $50.02 per hour which is 90% of the current coordinator’s pay of $117,915 per year. He will not receive an annual increase in January when other staff typically do, but pending a successful review on March 16, 2021 will increase to 95% of the current wage $53.86 per hour. After a year he will receive the full current wage of $56.69 per hour plus the annual 2021 wage increase.

Harris will also continue to do the streets/water superintendent duties. In other transition business, aldermen approved hiring current city clerk Virginia Brost to serve as an executive administrative assistant for the mayor and coordinator from January to December 2021. Brost is retiring from the city clerk position she has held since 1999. Brost has had a long career with the city she was an executive secretary from October 1980 to April 1993 when she became deputy clerk. In April 1999, she was appointed city clerk.

Under terms of the agreement, Brost will be paid a rate of $40 per hour for an annual pay of $83,200. Details of that deal had also been discussed at the August 24 closed session meeting. Money for the position will come from the city’s undesignated reserve account which is carryover funds from past budgets. With the city holding off on hiring for the streets/water superintendent position, the additional wages for Brost will have minimal budget impact.

Alderman Laura Holmes referenced that closed session discussion in noting there had been talk of if Brost was not busy after six months possibly stepping down.

Mayor Mike Wellner replied that when he had talked with Brost about the idea and about the possibility of if six months would work. Wellner said it was determined that six months would impact her Wisconsin Retirement and that in order for her to do it, it would have to be for a full year. Alderman unanimously approved keeping Brost on post-retirement in an executive assistant position. In related action, with the transition and the additional work that had to be done this year in light of COVID-19 Brost and Harris have been unable to take their vacations and requested they be allowed to carry the unused time into 2021. Under city policy, vacation time must be used within the calendar year. Aldermen approved granting the exception to allow the time to be used in 2021.

Construction projects

Switlick & Sons will do the work for the Phase II east side sewer interceptor project. The project includes the installation of a deep sewer line that will serve as a interceptor point allowing for gravity-fed sewer lines and opening the door to future development to the west. The project will extend from Hwy 64 to Allman Street and will allow for the removal of lift stations on Impala Drive and Malibu Drive.

Switlick & Sons bid of $835,639 was the lowest of four bids received for the work. The three other bids were all between $1.36 million and $1.47 million for the work. Bids were received from Advance Construction, Jame Peterson Sons and Haas Sons.

Aldermen also approved hiring Dixon Engineering of Greenfield to perform the onsite inspection of the city’s third water tower during its construction. The city will pay the firm $57,000 for the work. The money for both the interceptor and water tower projects will come from Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 13 revenues. TIDs are special taxing districts where the total taxes collected on improvements in the districts are used to pay for infrastructure improvements outlined in the plans for the district. Typically this money would be divided among the overly taxing districts.

In other business, aldermen:

_ Approved the 2021-2027 capital projects schedule. This is a list of road and utility work the city will do

in the next few years.

_ Approved reappointing Wellner to serve as the city’s representative to the Community Development Block Grant citizen participation committee. The committee is required for the grant and the mayor’s term on the committee expired last April. Alderman approved the retroactive appointment with his term to expire in April 2021.

_ Approved spending up to $750 from the city contingency fund for a thank you picnic for election workers and city employees in recognition of their efforts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The picnic will be held at city hall on Sept. 24.

_ Approved the three-year audit contract with Clifton Larson Allen for auditing services at a cost of $30,475 this year and going up to $31,125 for the 2022 city audit. Wellner reported on talking with the auditors about the council’s displeasure in getting the audit at the last minute without time to review it before the meeting where it was presented. Wellner said he negotiated with the company and came to the agreement that the firm would pay a $500 penalty if they did not have electronic and hard copies provided one week in advance of the audit presentation. This clause was included in the contract with the auditors.

_ Set Halloween trick or treat hours for Oct. 25 from following the planned Harvest Days parade until 6 p.m. The trick or treat hours will take place regardless of if a parade is held. Current plans are to hold the Harvest Days Festival with some modifications due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

_ Received an update from Harris about road projects. Paving was completed on Perkins St. and the road reopened. He also reported on work being done to underground electric services. Alderman Christine Weix questioned power outages caused by crews using directional drilling to install fiber optic cable in the city. She noted that people are supposed to call before they dig in order to avoid hitting lines and wanted to know if the city was reimbursed for the repair work when drilling crews broke lines. While the lines are typically marked prior to work in an area, aldermen Dave Roiger noted that sometimes lines are missed or may not be at the proper depth.

“Sometimes they just poke and hope,” Harris said. He confirmed that the company gets charged for the time city crews take in repairing broken lines.