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Council looks at future projects

PRINCETON — Upgrades at Darius Miller Park and city hall, a new ambulance and dump truck, and on-going street projects were brought up as considerations for next year’s city budget during a special meeting of the Princeton City Council and department heads.

City Manager Jeff Clawson opened Monday’s nearly two-hour meeting, reviewing the city’s existing debt service and saying he wants to make the new year a no-new-debt year since the city is in the middle of some large projects and is still paying on some completed projects.

Reviewing a debt spreadsheet, Clawson said the grand total for all the city’s current debts was originally $48 million, with about $37 million still owed, as of April 30, 2. With new debt accruing from the new water treatment plant, the city’s total debt by April 30, 2013, is expected to be about $40 million. Knowing what the city currently owes is helpful as the council looks ahead to future budget decisions, he said.

In looking at the coming budget year, Clawson said the new water treatment plant project is going forward, but funding for that project, through the Environmental Protection Agency and a dedicated revenue stream, is already in place. Concerning a Darius Miller Park upgrade, Clawson recommended the committee look at a possible OSLAD grant through the Department of Natural Resources.

• Reviewing some of his goals for the new year, Superintendent of Streets Steve Wright said he would like to budget for a new dump truck, at a cost of $105,000, to replace an older truck which has frequent repairs. Also, there are several street sealing and chip work projects which need to be done, as well as a storm sewer project on South Church Street, Wright said.

• Superintendent of Electric Jason Bird said the city needs to replace its single-walled fuel tank, which holds diesel fuel, with a double-walled tank. The cost for the new 30,000 gallon tank would be about $250,000. Another goal is to eventually run a second electric-service feed north across the interstate, Bird said.

• Superintendent of Water Treatment Mike Eggers said the new water treatment plant should hopefully be completed by July 2013 and fully operational by the fall of 2013. At that time, the process of dismantling the old water treatment plant and abandoning the wells will begin. The city can handle some of that work, but not all, Eggers said.

• Tim Forristall, superintendent of the Wastewater Department, said he’d like to upgrade some of the city’s lift stations, some of which go back to the 1970s. Also, the city is mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency to have at least $100,000 in sewer rehabilitation projects each year, Forristall said.

The hauling away of sludge continues to be a problem for the city, Forristall said. He will need to budget for three removals for the new year, at a cost of $25,000 to $40,000 per removal. The city has put the contractors and engineers on notice that the new cannibal system is not working, Forristall said.

In addition, Forristall said he believes his department is understaffed and he would like to hire another operator.

In response, Clawson said the city used to have 100 employees and is now down to 75. All departments will be evaluated to make sure things are being done efficiently and with proper management, with a look at possible cross-training of some employees, the city manager said.

• Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley said he would like to get a new ambulance, which would cost about $175,000. The oldest ambulance in the current fleet is 14 years old and has 100,000 miles on it, with frequent repairs. Another ambulance is 12 years old. Woolley said he is researching a narrower European-style ambulance which would cost about $60,000 less and also gets better gas mileage.

Also, there is a need for additional training for his staff to bring the department to a paramedic level classification, with the cost of the training for 11 EMTs at about $45,000.

• In other discussions, Mayor Keith Cain said city hall is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements because a lift is out of commission. A new elevator would be about $150,000 and a ramp into city hall would be $75,000.

• Commissioner Ray Swanson requested $50,000 be put into next year’s budget for a downtown facade grant to help building/business owners make upgrades to their buildings.

• Among other items discussed were a possible rental inspection policy, a water service line repair option for customers, emergency service dispatch options, upgrading the city’s website, and the marketing of the city’s logistics and technology parks.

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