Posted on

Bub asks who cleans up behind utility contractors

Questions if there is a city rule to require utility contractors to restore residential yards after work is done

Who should be responsible for cleaning up after private utility contractors who do work in the city?

That was the question from Alderman Mike Bub at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Bub relayed his experience this spring with a contractor for Charter driving a tracked machine across his yard early this spring to connect a service from the pole in the rear of his property and leaving deep ruts. He also spoke about a crew from TDS taking service from the same pole to a nearby apartment building noting they had left a large mound of earth, which he then had to spread out and put grass seed on.

The topic was raised during city coordinator Joe Harris’ report on activities going on in the city. It was noted that gas lines are currently being upgraded along Hwy 64 near Maple Street.

Bub questioned if there was a policy or ordinance the city could put in place to make sure that utility contractors clean up after themselves rather than leave homeowners to have to deal with the mess.

According to Harris, typically people will call the city when these incidents occur and the city will then contact the company who will get a crew out to address the problem. He said one of the challenges is that often the work is done outside the public right of way and the city has limited power in enforcing clean-up actions in that case, “They can just trespass on my land?” Bub asked, noting that the line wasn’t going to his house, but was going to a neighboring property.

Alderman Greg Knight said in the deeds there is often an easement recording for the utility to have a right of way. Harris said they would often access using the utility easements.

“I don’t mind that they did it, but I want them to fix the yard back to like it was,” he said, noting that while it was not the end of the world, he did not think it was right that companies could go on private property and leave a mess behind like that.

Harris said he would talk with city attorney Courtney Graff and see what options the city had.

Bub’s questions came at the end of what would have otherwise been a quick meeting as the council members gave final approval to measures discussed at last week’s committee of the whole.

In those action items, council members:

_ Approved selling 4.4 acres of city-owned land on Progressive Avenue in the industrial park for $50,000. Commonwealth Development Corporation of America is seeking to tap into a federal tax credit program to build a 40-unit multi-family workforce housing development on the parcel.

_ Approved allowing the annual downtown farmers market to take place on Tuesday evenings under terms similar to prior years. The market takes place on Tuesday from May 11 to October 19 from 1 to 5 p.m.

_ Approved allowing police chief Chad Liske to hire a part-time police officer to help cover vacation and extra duties. The part-timer would not be in the police union, nor qualify for benefits. Additional hours would be offered first to the existing officers before the parttimer would be scheduled to fill in gaps. The part-timer would be paid 90% of the wage of a full-time officer and be limited to no more than 1,000 hours. The position is expected to be revenue neutral and potentially save the city money by paying the part-timer straight time versus paying full-time officers overtime.

_ Approved the purchase of an Ariens Pro Turn 27HP 60” Deck mower from Klingbeil Lumber of Medford for a net cost of $3,988 after trade-in. The city had also received a quote from Fourmans of Medford for a comparable 60-inch deck mower that had a $5,999 net cost after trade in.

_ Approved increasing lifeguard wages by $1 per hour in order to remain competitive with other area employment. The assistant lifeguard will receive $12.50 (base) or $12.85 (returning) per hour. Lifeguards will receive $12 (base) or $12.33 (returning) per hour.

_ Approved formally dedicating a portion of East Perkins Street near the intersection with Hwy 13. The dedication was part of a resurvey of the area in connection with the south Kwik Trip project which is currently underway. “It is mainly a legal thing so that we keep things straight,” said mayor Mike Wellner. The original land description for the property had included to the center of the road right of way, the new survey, in keeping with modern standards shows the dedicated road right-of-way.