City council tackles money concerns

Expenses vs. revenue ... Left, the city of Philip has 28 percent of its expenses going into public works, 22 percent into water services and 18 percent into general government. Right, 30 percent of incoming money is from charges for services, 25 percent from sales taxes and 24 percent from property taxes

The Philip City Council met on Tuesday, December 8, at 4:30 p.m. This was a necessary deviation from its usual 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of each month because of scheduling conflicts with council members.

The South Dakota Department of Legislative Audit has accepted the city's 2008 audit report. See accompanying charts.

An off-site data storage of the city's computerized information has been quoted at $660 per year.

A trial period has been completed for a proposed on-call policy for city personnel. Using the city of Custer's wording as an example, Philip's formal policy will be finalized before the city council's next regular meeting.

The council approved a comprehensive plan for future planning and zoning for within the city limits only. All extra-territorial zoning possibilities that might have been shared with the surrounding county have been scrapped. Any parts of the working map that show county land are for informational purposes only. Seth Hyberger, planner from the Central South Dakota Enhancement District, said, "All the comments from the public hearing have been implemented into the map." The city council also formed a planning and zoning commission.

Concerning the new city swimming pool, Harlan Quenzer with SPN & Associates recommended, "In order for the city to stay out of legal trouble, potential bidders should come back with their proposals based on what we are asking for, not too little or too much. It'll be the bidder's job to tell us what is needed. If the filtration system is or is not adequate, if any additions are needed to the pool house, if a stainless steel liner is better than a shop-crete one with a diamond bright finish. These professionals really prefer doing it this way because it gives them more latitude." Quenzer suggested that criteria set by the state of South Dakota be put into the bid specifications, and that all professional work must be done by South Dakota licensed workers. The city council would chose the best bidder based mostly on pool design and cost estimates - on qualifications rather than marketing."

Recommending a bid due date of January 20, Quenzer said, "I just don't see completed construction happening before next November. That will even be a push, but it's too dicey to pour concrete in or after November because of the weather." The pool will have a walk-in zero-entrance end that will graduate to a nine foot diving area.

The city council approved all liquor license renewals. Police Chief Kit Graham responded with, "No problems," about the requests.

The police department will be purchasing a new computer. Graham said, "buying locally is not only cheaper, but any repairs would also be locally done."

A fine of $101, which includes court fees, is applicable to owners of dogs that leave messes on any property other than the owner's within the city limits of Philip. This includes in the gutters and streets. The act, though, has to be witnessed and reported by someone willing to make an official complaint.

Approved building permits include Miguel Rodriquez for a 12 foot by 18 foot carport and Duane and Joan Bessette for sewer service line replacement. The council approved a variance request for a 26 foot by 38 foot garage by Mel Smith on behalf of Dugan and Charmaine Stewart, though contingent on the council being shown proof of the location of the lot lines.

The city finance office will apply for grants on behalf of Philip Health Services, Inc. PHSI CEO Kent Olson said, "The $1.5 million project of attaching our facility to the geo-thermal well will pay for itself in nine to 15 years. Grant funds are always a long shot, with state and federal hoops to jump through. The project will be zero cost to the city and zero cost to taxpayers. We do not have the money, so the project will not happen if there are no grants."

The heating system for the city's south shop building must be addressed. The propane heating system has to be vented. Condensation is beginning to cause electrical problems.

A final year-end meeting will be held by the city council at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 29. The council's next regular meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. Monday, January 4, in the Haakon County Courthouse Community Room.