Policing matters dominate council discussions
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:33 AM
On Feb. 6, Spring Grove City Council member Nancy Nelson reported that she'd met with Police Chief Paul Folz, who said he is still seeking a half-time officer in accordance with last year's council decision to replace a full-time officer with a part-time employee.
Nelson also stated that a Spring Grove resident was arrested recently on an Illinois warrant.
Contacted by the Herald, Folz said that on Jan. 18 the department received a tip that the suspect was wanted.
Upon investigation, it was determined that David J. Norris, 29, was wanted in the State of Illinois.
"The original charge was robbery, and we were advised that he may be armed and dangerous," Folz said.
"The Spring Grove Police Department made contact and confirmed that this person was Mr. Norris. He was arrested and taken into custody without incident."
The council approved $150 for Folz to purchase more data storage for the department and $500 for a trailer hitch for a squad car.
Nelson also mentioned that Folz is investigating places where the city can safely store automobiles from forfeiture/seizure cases. "He's got three now," she noted.
Folz later explained the impounded vehicle situation to the Herald.
"We're obligated by law to protect them," he said, adding that in some cases evidence could be tainted if vehicles aren't securely locked away.
One option would be to construct a chain link enclosure on city-owned land. It needn't have a roof, but would more or less resemble a cage, since chain links would also extend over the top of the space.
Folz said that he is looking into various options, and estimated that room for four cars would probably be adequate. Even renting an unused storage building could work as long as it can be locked.
Closed session held
Folz was also the subject of a closed session about "pending litigation," which lasted about a half-hour.
City Attorney Joe Hammell reported after the session, "During the closed session, we discussed the pending Paul Folz matter, which could ultimately head to arbitration.
"I have received a consensus from the council in response to the request by Mr. Folz and his union representative.
"I will be going back to them to discuss it, and once I have a full agreement, I will bring it back to the council for approval.
"It appears to me that we are headed towards a resolution."
Fest Building repairs approved
Mayor Bruce Poole brought two quotes from T-N-T Painting and Construction of Spring Grove for repairs to the porch area roofing at the Fest Building.
Insurance adjusters found roofing in that area so badly deteriorated that the city will have to foot the bill, Poole explained.
The company has already been approved to make insurance-backed repairs to the structure following last year's hailstorm.
T-N-T offered to put a metal roof over the porch area for $7,000 or use tarpaper and 30-year guaranteed shingles for $8,250.
Members opted to approve the latter option by unanimous vote.
Quarterly reports discontinued
By consensus, the council decided not to require quarterly reports from all city departments, focusing instead on a more inclusive annual report from each.
Those would likely be due in March and April, although no exact policy was set.
Exceptions would include The Corner Store (which would report more frequently) and any additional reports from the police department that Folz may submit.
Members reviewed the latest report on sales, expenses and inventory from The Corner Store manager Cathy Howard, and decided to ask her for some more information. Dehning offered to meet with Howard on the matter.
Other news from the council
Poole appointed councilmember Rachel Olerud to Saundra Solum's recently expired Spring Grove Library Board position. The council unanimously ratified the action.
Several items were discussed without formal council action being taken.
The first involved a letter sent to councilmember Nelson from a township resident asking about the possibility of the city police department policing the Spring Grove Public School.
Members noted that the city cannot afford to hire an officer to primarily guard the school, and most patrols are during evening hours when the majority of incidents occur.
Poole noted that if the school district wanted to pay for an officer, the council could "do its part" insofar as hiring. A retired peace officer may be a good candidate, but the school district would need to take the lead, he said.
Nelson also said that the city needs to check on GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board) regulations, to make sure that all city financial reporting complies with current standards.
She added that she believed accounting firms need special licensing to do governmental audits in the State of Minnesota. "I don't know if Hacker Nelson has that extra license," Nelson said.
"That would be a question (to ask) when they deliver the report," Vogel replied.
Next council meeting set
The next council meeting will be Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. to begin with a rescheduled public hearing for potential changes in parking regulations for Main Street and S. Division Ave.
Members decided to go back to a first and third Tuesday schedule in March. Meetings remain at 168 W. Main St.