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City accepts half payment from school district for geo-thermal well line repair

During a 15-minute, year-end meeting on Tuesday, December 29, the Philip City Council agreed to accept half payment by the Haakon School District for repairs to the school's geo-thermal pipeline.

The school still stands behind its position of not being responsible for the line that first heats the Philip school buildings then heats several downtown businesses. Even so, as a one-time item, the school board said that it will pay half of the $6,200 repair bill. The line, which has never been mapped onto the South Dakota One-Call excavation safety system, was damaged during the Philip School Drainage Project done by the city last summer.

With the city council accepting this much, Mayor John Hart said, "Regretfully the taxpayers will get soaked for it anyway."

Don Burns is the president of the Philip Geothermal Corporation, a taxable entity that pays the school district for the use of the geo-thermally heated water. Burns said that the system services buildings owned by Coyle's SuperValu, Whistle Hill Flower Shop, Kemnitz Law Office, Philip Ambulance Service, Philip Motor, Inc. and the Philip Volunteer Fire Department. Burns estimates that, after the initial set-up costs, a corporation member could potentially save up to 80 percent of their heating costs as compared to using propane or heating fuel.

Philip Health Services, Inc. is currently attempting to acquire a grant to tap into this geo-thermal line. The Haakon School District Board of Education has given approval for PHSI to do so.

In other city concerns, Philip's application to the South Dakota Army National Guard for assistance with repairs to the Lake Waggoner dam has been denied. The application was pushed through with assistance from Senator Tim Johnson's office. The National Guard said that the Lake Waggoner repair project does not meet training objective qualifications. No further plans for the fate of Lake Waggoner were discussed by the council.

The council approved the second reading of Ordinance #2009-16, which establishes a Planning and Zoning Commission for the City of Philip. Any planning and zoning done by the city will be for only inside the city limits. The ordinance can be seen, and copies acquired, at the city finance office.

The land under Lake Waggoner, up to the high water mark, is owned by the City of Philip. The water rights to Lake Waggoner are owned by the State of South Dakota. The property there is not within the corporate limits of the city.

Because of billing difficulties with a credit card company, no city purchases of fuel will be done at The Gas Stop. The Philip gasoline business has been taken off of the monthly fuel rotation policy for city vehicles. This includes fuel purchases made by the Philip Volunteer Fire Department.

The council approved Resolution #2009-19 that establishes an on-call personnel policy. It is almost a verbatim replica of the City of Custer's policy.

The financials were approved for the completed snow removal equipment shed and the windcone project at the Philip airport. The Environmental Assessment and Land Acquisition evaluation has been submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration for its final release of the grant money.

The council approved a $35 commercial garbage hauler's license for 2010 to Waste Connections of South Dakota, which is doing business as Walker Refuse for Philip.

The 2009 year-end sales tax revenues are "not too shabby compared to last year," said Hart, "and we should be thankful for that."

The combined municipal election and school election will be on the second Tuesday in April, April 13, 2010, at the single polling place of Room A-1 in the Philip High School. There are three city council positions up for election in 2010. They are Ward I, currently held by Mike Vetter, Ward II, currently held by John Kangas, and Ward III, currently held by Shirley Chin. Petitions can begin circulating no earlier than January 29, 2010.

The propane bid for December went to Midwest Cooperatives at $1.49 per gallon.

Departmental inventories for 2009 must be completed and returned to the city finance office by no later than January 10.

The annual South Dakota Municipal League days at the state legislature will be February 2 and 3 in Pierre. Philip Finance Officer Monna Van Lint will attend as a SDML committee member.

Individuals should contact the city finance office if they would like the city to dispose of their Christmas trees.