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City has questions about proposed storm shelter partnership

City has questions about proposed storm shelter partnership City has questions about proposed storm shelter partnership

The Medford School District is seeking help from the city of Medford in applying for a federal grant for tornado shelter at the high school.

During the committee of the whole portion of Monday’s city council meeting, Jordan Buss, of JBAD Solutions came to discuss the possibility of the city becoming a pass-through entity for the Medford Area School District to get the grant money.

The storm shelter space would be used as a multi-purpose, multi-use facility that could be used as a classroom space, gym space, or other uses. It could also be turned into a storm shelter for students, staff and community members within a half a mile radius.

After the district applied for the grant in January, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) changed the guidelines. Because the district was not covered under the city’s local hazard mitigation plan, the district’s application and nine others in the state were ineligible.

Buss suggested two options for the district to get the ball rolling on this project. The first was the district could reapply and wait for a response, but then the district would have to become part of the Taylor County mitigation plan. This could become a lengthy process, which Buss did not recommend doing.

The second option would be to have the city of Medford be the technical subapplicant on behalf of the school district.

Members of the board expressed their concerns if the city would have a financial liability to this project.

Mayor Wellner spoke up and said “If we do write up a contract, we are going to stress that the city would not have any liability bound to this project. We won’t be responsible for anything if the project doesn’t succeed.”

After discussion the board tabled the topic for this meeting to wait and see what the district has come up with in terms of projected numbers. Once that is clarified, the board can make a more informed decision.

Website Upgrades

The Medford city website is looking for an upgrade.

City Clerk Ashley Lemke, approached the council at Monday meeting addressing some of the issues that she and other community members have been experiencing with the city’s website “We are not able to update our webpage which is also creating more problems with relaying the correct information to community members,” Lemke said.

Lemke attended a Clerk’s Conference in August where a presenter from Town Web did a group demonstration of their business. Afterward, Lemke attended one-on-one training with Town Web’s representative. She said Town Web has quickly become the go-to option for more and more municipalities.

One of the features that Town Web offers is residents can sign up for either email or text alerts and they can get information if something major happened within the city, like a water main break. They can also get this information first hand on the city’s website.

The current website provider cost is $1,375/year. The proposed price for Town Web is $3,447, with a one-time set up cost of $3,399. Town Web is willing to split the payment on the set up and annual fee where half could be paid in 2022 and the remainder be paid in 2023.

Another issue that the board is having is receiving emails.

Laura Holmes said “We can’t receive any emails from concerned residents, because they never come through. If they do it’s from weeks prior.”

After consideration, the board all agreed that having a professional looking website would be beneficial for the city and its residents, both current and future. The board agreed to send this to council.

Handbook Updates

Staff members requested an update to the personnel policies regarding spouse and domestic partnership references.

Lemke told the board that the handbook currently states that if two individuals are living together but are not joined by a civil union or marriage, they are not entitled to the same benefits that a spouse is.

Lemke suggested that the handbook be changed to incorporate where the spouse is referenced to also include domestic partnership interchangeably. This is to create equal treatment across the board in regards to other benefits within the handbook.

“Would the person have to come in and show some type of proof that they are a domestic partner such as a lease agreement, mail, or something similar?” Holmes asked.

“I don’t think we are going to make residents show proof unless it becomes a problem in the future,” Lemke answered.

Joe Harris commented that this has become more of an issue with a domestic partner wanting time off for a funeral like their partner, rather than using vacation to cover that time off.

Mayor Mike Wellner also agreed that if it becomes a problem, then they will have to show documentation or proof of partnership in the future.

The motion was passed and moved to council.

In other business:

  The board agreed to approve the engineering contract for potential future construction of the Whelen Park Pavilion and the splash pad/skating rink project, not to exceed $71,000 and for engineering for the Bandshell project in the city park at a cost not to exceed $54,300.

  Internet upgrades will be done to remove the satellite equipment that has been installed since 2010. The new fiber cables will be under one network. Cameras would also be installed at the Flag Field with future plans to install cameras around the city park. This would cost an estimated $33,976.24.

  The condition of the covered bridge on the riverwalk has deteriorated considerably. The bridge will be taken out and frame that was purchased ten years prior will be used to be the foundation for the new bridge. City Coordinator Joe Harris said “The bridge will not be covered right away, but it will be in the future.”

  Jason Viergutz’s wage will increase from $33.03 to $34.76 plus the 2022 non-union payroll increase ($35.63), effective December 1 after successfully completing one year on the job.

  Patrol officer Dean Dokken completed his first year with the Medford Police Department. His wage will increase from $24.58/hour to $27.66. This went into effect on November 29.