By Lori Newman
The Deer Creek City Council held its regular monthly meeting on Feb. 22.
New York Mills Police Chief Bobby Berndt gave the police report for January and informed the council that the police department is implementing updated Eyewitness Identification and Use of Force Policies.
The council reviewed and discussed receipts and cash balances for January.
City Clerk/Treasurer Tom Parish reminded the council that the city must carry a balance in the reserve fund to cover deficits in any department accounts.
Although major maintenance projects on the water tower and chemical building will need to be done within the next couple of years, Parish cautioned against planning for any big expenses in 2021 due to the uncertainty of Local Government Aid amounts that will be available this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council reviewed and discussed the fire department budget.
Deer Creek Fire Department Chief Travis Collins suggested that a quarterly review of the budget take place in order to better plan for expenditures and avoid deficits in the department account.
Wage increases for the fire department chief and secretary positions were also discussed.
However, the discussion was tabled for now because it is unclear if there would be a conflict of interest for the city council members who are also members of the fire department to vote on the increases.
Parish said he would seek the advice of the city attorney about this issue.
The council discussed the condemnation process for the residence at 107 Clark St. in Deer Creek. The mortgage company that owns the property still has not responded to a letter that was sent to them about the matter.
Council members agreed that the building is probably not salvageable, and it would be best to demolish or burn it. Parish said he would also ask the city attorney about how to proceed with this.
Water/Wastewater Operator Dan Kovar presented the council with Pump and Lift Station Maintenance Agreements, which were reviewed and approved.
Kovar also provided the council with Minnesota Department of Health Sanitary Survey Reports, which showed no contamination of the city’s drinking water.
Kovar also suggested the city obtain a generator for backup power for the well.
Collins provided the council with the Deer Creek Fire and Rescue annual report and the minutes of the 2021 annual meeting with the townships. Collins had told the township board members at the annual meeting that the fire department would like to purchase a tanker truck in 2022 to replace their current tanker truck, which is old and has mechanical problems. Township representatives who were present had agreed with the purchase proposal.
However, Parish said that the proposal to purchase a different truck should have been brought to the city council first, before it was presented to the townships.
Parish also voiced his concern that because three of the four current city council members are also members of the fire department, possible violations of open meeting laws could occur during fire department meetings, and that notice of meetings must be published in advance. Parish said he would discuss these matters with the city attorney also.
Parish reported that a Wellhead Protection Plan Community Meeting is scheduled on April 26 at 7 p.m., prior to the regular city council meeting.
Councilor Dan Hendershot reported that streetlights in town have been fixed, and all the old bulbs have been replaced with more energy-efficient LED bulbs.