Philip city council debates Lake Waggoner expenses, possible "foreclosure" option

The Philip City Council used its Monday, January 5, meeting to get through annual paperwork before discussing possible solutions to the Lake Waggoner problem.

All rates and fees for the City of Philip will be the same as in 2008. All penalties, fines and fees will also be the same. The council again adopted an anti-discrimination resolution. The official depository for the city is again the First National Bank in Philip. The official newspaper for the city is the Pioneer Review. Paid holidays for city employees will be the same as last year. The finance office and deputy finance officer are again authorized to purchase certificates of deposit as they deem appropriate for the city.

The council adopted interest allocations according to the average balance of 2008 per each fund: general fund at 61.1182 percent, special revenue at 3.07404 percent, water fund at 16.24130 percent, sewer fund at 15.60574 percent and the garbage fund at 3.96075 percent.

The first reading was held for Ordinance #2009-01, which establishing regulations for the placement and installation of wind energy conversion systems (wind towers).

The next month's propane expenses will go to the lowest bidder of Midwest Cooperative at $1.56 per gallon.

Philip Pearson was honored as the Citizen of the Month for January. (See article on page two.)

The council has set the deadline for submitting bids on three projects, the Philip School Drainage project, the Ash St. project and the swimming pool deck project. One stipulation to the school project is that no work will be done on school property during school days. Work at the pool will not begin until it closes after the 2009 season. Bids are to be opened on the afternoon of February 2.

Harlan Quenzer with SPN & Associates reviewed the Lake Waggoner spillway repair project. Putting in water-flow barriers, which should include 2,000 pound rocks and concrete walls, would cost an estimated $319,000. Putting in a larger concrete wall, that might only substitute for other flow dispersal techniques, would cost an estimated $282,900.

Quenzer said, "The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has basically stated that it will not help anymore. The state water barrel is pretty well empty, if you listen to the state budget. If we don't do something, though, we may simply lose the dam."

The council was posed with the problem of not if, but when, the lake and the hot water well will be beyond repair. The spillway project is already on a state economic stimulus wish list of projects. Mayor John Hart said, "We need to explore all options. We need to talk to constituents, to the Game, Fish and Parks Department (GF&P), the Department of School and Public Lands, our legislators and the governor. The people who enjoy the lake have to see that we are trying to do everyting we can. Nothing is impossible. When we went to D.C., we came away with the drinking water project." Hart will try to promote the project during the South Dakota Municapal League Day at the legislature February 3 and 4 in Pierre.

Hart admitted, "It may end up like a foreclosure. If we can't afford to fix the dam, then we might be forced to give it back to the GF&P. They gave its upkeep to us originally, saying to either fix it or breech it. If the GF&P breeches it, then they breech it. I like the lake, but right now it's almost a lose/lose situation. If we even had a half a million dollars, I would rather spend it on the Pine Street Phase III project."

On a related order of business, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources will be consulted when a controlled burn can be done on the cattails in the secondary spillway of the lake.

The council asked the finance officer to make the Haakon County Commissioners and the county auditor aware of a specific South Dakota Codified Law. All monies due the city on a tax appropriated basis are to be apportioned out to the city by the county by the 20th of each month. Such checks have often been late for the last two years, with last November's being 10 days late. Stating that she had no wish to have to enforce the law, Finance Officer Monna Van Lint said, "It is the city's money, and it should be drawing interest in our account. Taxpayers don't get a "bye" if they pay their taxes late. Other entities such as Midland and the school system should also have their tax money on time."  

Petitions for council positions in Wards I, II and III can begin circulating no earlier than January 30. They must be signed by voters and be filed by February 27.

The next City Council meeting will be Monday, February 2, at 7:00 p.m. in the Haakon County Courthouse community room.